Confederate Monuments in Context: Arlington National Cemetery and the Legacy of the Confederacy

Author: Shannon Baker
Major: History
Approved: Fall 2019
Status: In progress

This project will concentrate on Confederate monuments, and in doing so, focus on the Confederate monument in Arlington National Cemetery. I will place the creation of the monument in both its historical context and the larger, modern-day debate surrounding Confederate statues and memorials. Arlington National Cemetery was chosen as a focus because of the cemetery’s history. Arlington was originally the home of Robert E. Lee, and the Union used his property as a cemetery in part to prevent him from ever returning home. The Confederate memorial was only placed on the property 50 years after the end of the war, during which time Jim Crow laws were in effect. I want to analyze what was happening in D.C. and the surrounding areas around the time of the memorial’s design and construction to place this monument in a larger context, and then use this context to address the overall debate on Confederate monuments. I will then use this research to create a short documentary film on the Arlington monument and the national debate.