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The Mammy Memorial: 1923

The Mammy Memorial: 1923

Washington, D.C. "U.S.J. Dunbar, 6/27/23." The sculptor Ulric Stonewall Jackson Dunbar and a model of the proposed "Mammy" monument. 5x7 inch glass negative. View full size.

        In 1923, a group of white women wanted to build what they called a "monument to the faithful colored mammies" in Washington. These women, members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, pressed lawmakers in Congress to introduce a bill ... [read more]


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No public memorial—whatever the reasons—ought memorialize the serfdom of the feudal, antebellum South. Doing so is not "preserving" the history of the United States; it's perpetuating the erroneous view that feudalism was consonant with the ideals and principles of a Republic founded on Individual Rights and on individual liberty. The compromise at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 accepting the antebellum South into the Union was an IOU marked "fatal concession," later paid for in blood when a serfdom loving Confederacy insisted states' rights trumped the fundamental principles of the Federal Constitution.

If one wishes to memorialize such a despicable, Dark Age feudal fiefdom that was the slave loving South—which, led by the Democratic Party as the Solid South, continued it's its love of racial oppression well into the 20th Century—one may a) erect it on private land & b) pay for it out of one's pocket.

"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry." —Ayn Rand

The same people who could sell the women's natural children.

Most horrible of all -- Sometimes those were also the master's children, sold to spare the feelings of the lawful wife.

Previously on Shorpy:

We met a real-life mammy.

"Frank Hume's Mammy...Louisa Ware, was born a slave in the County of Culpeper, Va. in 1807 and belonged to Maj. Gen. John A. Rawlins, Gen. Grant's chief of staff and Secretary of War. She was presented to the mother of Hon. Frank Hume as her maid...Louisa, or "mammy" as her foster children love to call her, is now nearing the ninety mark, is active and strong and enjoys excellent health and is full of practical good common sense - it is unnecessary to say she will never want while any of her foster children live as their affection for her has never been dimed [sic] by time."

Shorpy: Offrank: 1900

Don't assume

Because of his name, I was surprised to find that Ulric Dunbar was born in London, Ontario, studied in Toronto, and only emigrated to the US as an adult.

Pride & Prejudice

Ulric Dunbar would have produced a beautiful sculpture that would not memorialize but rather romanticize a time and an institution that could be re-framed and twisted into sweet nostalgia for the class of people who owned mammies. These women might have found some comfort in caring for the children of their owners but those owners are the same people who could sell the women's natural children.

It's good there was enough public outrage, including from ex-slaves, to prevent such a travesty.


Wonderful bit of history, as we come to expect whenever visiting SHORPY.

I had never thought much about the many statues of War Heroes, etc around the country. The linked article explains how Civil War statues were possibly meant to explain away the evils of slavery by virtuously engrandizing Southern soldiers.

OK, but could they have also been meant to mark the individual, the idea of autonomous rule, the right of all Americans to stand and fight as the needs arise? So many questions, so many interpretive answers.

Before we Judge

Living in a predominantly black community, I am oft reminded of the still ongoing issue with wealthy white liberal women who continue to exploit people of color. Those who claim to understand minorities the best are usually the ones taking advantage of them the most.

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