The county council can vote Tuesday night on the latest effort to remove the “Talbot Boys” from the courthouse green.
Resolution 290, introduced by two of the five council members, calls for the removal of the statue of a young flag bearer carrying the battle flag of the rebel Army of Northern Virginia. As introduced, the resolution would allow the base, containing the names of Talbot County men who fought against the United States, to remain.
An amended resolution has been introduced by Councilman Pete Lesher and Council President Corey Pack, who introduced the initial resolution. The amended resolution calls for the removal of the entire monument and removes language that would have banned depictions of soldiers.
Lesher also plans to introduce two amendments during Tuesday night’s meeting, according to the agenda.
One would change language concerning the statue’s relocation to have the monument safely stored in the care of the county “until a place for its ultimate relocation can be identified and prepared.”
The second would establish a restricted county fund to receive any private contributions toward the cost of removing the monument.
During a July 28 public hearing on the resolution, the overwhelming majority of those calling into the meeting of the Talbot County Council urged members to completely remove the monument.
The council also was given a petition with 30-plus pages of signatures of people calling for the Talbot Boys to be removed from the courthouse green. A video entitled “I am Talbot County” also was submitted into the record.
“Statues are not how history is taught. It’s not about erasing history, but about what history to glorify,” one caller said. “What we do not support is a monument glorifying the Confederacy.”
Another caller cited a community survey in which 63% of respondents said racism is an issue in Talbot County.
“The Confederacy should not be glorified and that’s what the Talbot Boys statue does,” another caller said.
“This isn’t the first time the removal of the monument has been discussed. I hope it will be the last,” he said. “The question now is what side of history do you want to be a part of.”
“To commemorate is to celebrate” and the statue symbolizes racism and slavery, another caller said.
David Montgomery disagreed.
“The monument is to soldiers of Talbot County, not to slavery, not to the Confederacy,” he said.
Montgomery argued that it was highly unlikely that Talbot’s soldiers were fighting to preserve slavery.
Paul Callahan argued that Talbot’s rebels were fighting against Lincoln’s unconstitutional actions during the war against the secessionists.
“During the Civil War, what was done in Maryland was unconstitutional, unlawful, and brutal,” Callahan said, citing martial law, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the arrests of thousands of Marylanders suspected of Southern sympathies.
But Benjamin Rubenstein noted that Talbot’s rebel soldiers fought for the Confederate States of America.
“Even if they didn’t own slaves, they fought to protect slavery,” he said. “There’s no place for racism and white supremacy” on the public square.
Larrier Walker agreed that the fact that someone fought in a war could not be separated from “what they fought for.”
“Where in Germany are there statues or memorials to Hitler or the Nazis?” he asked. “There are none. To African-Americans and others, the Talbot Boys are just like Hitler and the Nazis.”
Henry Herr, who circulated the petition for the statue’s removal, noted the seceding states went to war against the U.S. in order to preserve slavery.
“The vast majority of historians have proven it time and time again,” he said.
“This symbol is a scourge of Talbot County,” Herr said. “Stand up for the minorities in your community who have been begging you to take it down.”
One caller said he was related to 10% of the names on the Talbot Boys monument.
He noted that the monument has 84 names, but many times that number from Talbot County fought for the United States.
The “time has come to remove” the monument and show that “Talbot County does not hold racism as a central tenet,” he said.
Others noted that the courthouse green was the site of the county’s slave auctions, where the KKK met in the 1880s, and where thousands gathered — just a few years after the Talbot Boys monument was erected — in an attempt to lynch a black man accused of sexually assaulting a white girl.
Keith Watts said the statue stands on hallowed ground — the site where thousands of Talbot’s slaves were brought to auction, where families were torn apart, “sold on the very spot that that statue stands.”
“Those people have no voice now. They need to be heard down through the ages,” Watts said. “The weight of history is on you tonight. The eyes of the nation and world are on you tonight. If Mississippi can do this, Talbot County can do this.”