Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Zebulon Baird Vance Monument (Asheville, NC)

The Vance Monument in Asheville, NC, is a tribute to a white supremacist, the leader of a political party that destroyed the promise of Reconstruction and imposed segregation upon North Carolina. The monument is a towering insult to African-Americans, an affront to American ideals and an embarrassment to the city of Asheville.

Zebulon Baird Vance (1830-1894)

1. Slave owner. Son of a slave owner.

2. Opposed secession until Fort Sumter was fired on/Lincoln asked North Carolina for troops. By the time North Carolina seceeded Vance was a captain commanding a company known as the "Rough and Ready Guards." Later he was elected colonel of the 26th North Carolina Troops, which he ably led in battle at New Bern in March 1862 and shortly afterwards in the Seven Days fighting before Richmond. Thus, Vance fought for the Confederacy.

3. Vance was elected North Carolina governor in 1862. While he had disputes with the "central" Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia, he never waivered in his support of the Confederate cause.

4. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Zebulon Vance owned six slaves. After the war he stated the following about "perfect negro equality": "There are indications that the radical abolitionists … intend to force perfect negro equality upon us. Should this be done, and there is nothing to prevent it, it will revive an already half formed determination in me to leave the U.S. forever."

5. Later, in 1870, Vance stated: "[T]he African negro, the descendants of barbarian tribes who for 4,000 years have contributed nothing to, though in close contact with, civilization."

6. Having a North Carolina county named for him, Vance County, Zebulon Vance referred to it as "Zeb's Black Baby."

7. Vance attempted to make a distinction between civil rights and social rights in 1874, stating the following with respect to a bill introduced in the US House of Representatives: "There is no railway car in all the South which the colored man cannot ride in. That is his civil right. This bill proposes that he should have the opportunity or the right to go into a first-class car and sit with white gentlemen and white ladies. I submit if that is not a social right. There is a distinction between the two.” "No race, sir, in the world has been able to stand before the pure Caucasian. An antagonism of races will not be good for the colored man." "It [the bill] begets hopes and raises an ambition in the minds of the colored man that can never be realized."

8. As late as 1878 Vance voiced his opposition to emancipation at a meeting of African Americans celebrating Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: "I appear in your meeting to-day simply to acknowledge the respect you have shown me by inviting me as the Governor of the State to visit your assemblage. You cannot of course expect me to join with you in celebrating this day, the anniversary of that emancipation which I struggled so long to prevent, and which I, in common with all the people of my race in the South, regard as an act of unconstitutional violence to the one party, and as an injury to the other." Thus, Vance regarded the Emancipation Proclamation as an act of unconstitutional violence.

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