Charlottesville Sparks Debate Over Franklin Statue

Posted at 2:07 PM, Aug 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-16 21:16:54-04

Activists standing in solidarity with Charlottesville, Virginia called for the statue of a Confederate soldier in Franklin to be taken down, seeing it as a symbol of hate.

A vigil was held on the square in downtown Franklin Monday evening as people came with signs featuring messages denouncing racism and hatred. 

Participants moved to the center of the downtown Franklin square just feet from a statue of a Confederate soldier, known as Chip. Some chanted “take it down,” saying they felt removing it would help spread a message of tolerance.

"If you stand away, you can't tell if the statue is a Confederate soldier or a Union soldier," Rick Warwick, the historian for Williamson County, said on Tuesday. 

According to Warwick, the statue was erected in 1899 on November 30, 35 years after the Battle of Franklin by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

At the time, it was put up as a monument to remember those who fought in the war.

"it's not representing one person, it's representing all of those that fell in battle or fought in the war," Warwick explained. 

Over the past 118 years, the statue has become more than a monument, but it has become an iconic part of downtown that is a part of the culture and history. 

Warwick added that the statue has no blatant signs of hate; however, he can understand how some would not approve of the statue.

"It's not offensive to me, but I can see if you're an African-American or your grandfather was shot and killed by a Confederate soldier, you may think differently," Warwick said. 

The movement of removing statues has swept across the country, removing signs of a dark part in the nation's history, and other countries have done it before.

"Germany pretty much has outlawed anything that has to do with the symbols of Nazism," Warwick explained. 

But many who live in Franklin and who visit Franklin believe the monument is a part of history, and part of the identity of the South. 

"Not all Confederate soldiers were slave owners, as a matter of fact, most of them weren't," Warwick said.

As Franklin grows and changes, Warwick acknowledges views of the Confederacy and the country's history have also changed. 

"Most the people moving here today, particularly from the north and if they come from California out west, the Civil War doesn't mean diddly to them," Warwick said. 

The statue and it's grounds have been privately owned for 118 years by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, and there are currently no plans for that to change. 

"Unless the Daughters agree to give it up, it's gonna be there," Warwick said in summation. 

Members of the community planned to have a meeting about the statue, but the city said it is not involved in those conversations. 

To this day, it's still owned and maintained by the UDC.