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There Are Still Six Confederate Memorials Around DC. How’s That Possible?

Alexandria officials recently voted to rename that city’s stretch of US Route 1 after someone other than Confederate president Jefferson Davis, but it doesn’t mean you have to leave the area to find Rebel namesakes.

1. Mary Surratt House

Photograph of Surratt House by AgnosticPreachersKid
Photograph of Surratt House by AgnosticPreachersKid

John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators plotted the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at a multistory boardinghouse at Sixth and H streets, Northwest. For her role, proprietor Mary Surratt became the first woman executed by the federal government. The building is still there but is better known for egg rolls and karaoke as the location of Wok and Roll.

2. Rebel Graves at Arlington

The construction of Arlington National Cemetery on land once owned by Robert E. Lee’s family and a ban on decorating the graves of Confederate solders were taken as slights by Southern sympathizers after the Civil War. In 1900, Congress created a special section for about 480 Rebel graves.

3. Lee’s Arlington House

Photograph of Arlington House Courtesy of Library of Congress
Photograph of Arlington House Courtesy of Library of Congress

The former home of the Confederacy’s most famous general overlooks Arlington National Cemetery. Today the Robert E. Lee Memorial is part of the National Park Service, displaying Lee’s revolver and a replica of his Confederate uniform.

4. Confederates in the Capitol

Authorized in 1864, the National Statuary Hall Collection allows each state to contribute two statues of its notable citizens, including century-old sculptures commemorating figures who sought to abandon the Union. There now are 13 statues of Confederate figures scattered around the Capitol, including Davis, Lee, and Florida’s Edmund Kirby Smith, one of the last Confederate generals to surrender.

5. Rockville’s Thin Gray Line

After the shooting at a black South Carolina church, Montgomery County executive Isiah Leggett called for removing a Rockville statue commemorating county residents who fought for the Confederacy. But the city council voted against relocating the statute to Beall-Dawson Historic Park; it’s still in front of the courthouse.

6. The Lee-Jackson Windows

Photograph of Stained-Glass Window Courtesy of National Cathedral
Photograph of Stained-Glass Window Courtesy of National Cathedral

The United Daughters of the Confederacy gave these stained-glass windows to National Cathedral in 1953 to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson with scenes from both Southern generals’ lives. After recent controversy, the Confederate flags were removed from the windows, but the generals remain.

This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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