Friday, August 2, 2013

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond

The Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond holds the world's finest collection of Confederate art and artifacts; it's future is in serious doubt. If rumored changes come to pass the MOC's collection as well as the historic White House of the Confederacy which it owns and manages, may simply cease to exist.  
Right now, some in the MOC leadership have cooked up a plan to distribute the MOC's incredible collection among several different Richmond-area groups. Included in that list are the Virginia Historical Society and the historic site at Tredegar Iron Works. Neither of these can be considered Confederate-friendly. 
The Museum of the Confederacy holds an important trust as the repository of the world's finest collection of Confederate memorabilia. Recent reports from well-informed sources indicate that the museum's leadership is rapidly moving forward with a plan which, in addition to dispersing the collection, will also sell its building in downtown Richmond.  
Once the collection is relocated and the building sold, the now-nearby White House of the Confederacy will be isolated in an urban canyon surrounded by the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and virtually lost to tourist traffic. To think that it will be bale to sustain itself financially in that condition is difficult to imagine.   
I'm writing to you because we need to act quickly. 
The SCV strongly opposes this plan and is actively urging the Museum of the Confederacy board to reconsider. While no doubt well-intentioned, this course of action will seriously jeopardize the integrity of this collection which is so important to our Southern heritage.  
Generations of Southerners, including many of the veterans themselves, contributed a king's ransom to the Museum of the Confederacy in the form of priceless antiques, family heirlooms, and relics of the Confederate cause of incalculable value. They made these contributions with the express intent that these antiquities would be carefully preserved and honorably displayed. That's how the Museum of the Confederacy's collection grew to be the trustee of the single largest collection of the treasures of the late Confederacy. To scatter these precious treasures across several venues and organizations will permanently diminish its importance.  
The Museum of the Confederacy is technically owned by the Confederate Memorial & Literary Society and is a private organization. They are under no obligation to listen to the SCV or to take advice from anyone. But, we believe they are reasonable people who by and large want to do the best they can under the circumstances. 
I have been calling everyone connected with the MOC but I would like for them to hear from you as well.
Please contact these folks today and POLITELY let them know how important it is that the Museum of the Confederacy's collection remain intact as a permanent tribute to those proud soldiers.  
Please urge your Compatriots and anyone who shares our view of this important issue to let their voices be heard so that the Museum of the Confederacy can return to being the home of the Confederacy's most important artifacts.
Michael Givens
Commander in Chief

Mr. Matthew G. Thompson, Jr. (Chairman) 
Mr. Carlton P. Moffatt, Jr.  
The Hon. Daniel T. Balfour


The Virginia Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans stand in staunch opposition to the proposed merger of the Museum of the Confederacy, The Virginia Historical Society and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. The name Museum of the Confederacy should stay in perpetuity.
The Museum was formed by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society to collect and receive all books and other literary productions pertaining to the late War Between the States, and of those engaged therein; all works of art or science, all battle-flags, relics and emblems of that struggle. This was done to preserve the name and use for documenting this phase of history for future generations.
To change the name or to attempt to change the presentation of any of these artifacts is in direct violation of this Memorial to that most defining struggle. Changing demographics and ideas must not be allowed to attempt to revise true history. Furthermore, let it be known that we request a National flag of the Confederate States of America to be flown on each building that serves as Memorial to this time period in Confederate history.
We ask that should this merger continue that everyone contact these Museums and Officials at every level to tell of your displeasure. No matter what walk of life a person is from, history should not be erased or modified. We need to protect our history for our children and their children.

Sons of Confederate Veterans, VA Division


The Museum of the Confederacy
I wish I could say that I am surprised by the recent information concerning the Museum of the Confederacy merging with two other museums, but as someone who held membership in that museum for many years (before quitting in disgust 3 years ago) and who argued incessantly with Director Waite Rawls, and, who is quite familiar with his sneakiness, I have to say that nothing would surprise me. I am not privy to the reasons for the proposed merger. At this time the information is not fact but a rumor (although the source seems to be a good one). If the rumor is true, and if I had to guess, I'd guess that there's something in it for Rawls…..if not money, then some sort of position or prestige. People like him don't do something unless they stand to benefit from it.
In my long affiliation with Southern heritage defense, one thing has appalled me. No, it's not Yankees….I'm a northerner and I grew up with Yankees. I know them like I know the back of my hand. They are what they are and the day they change is the day pigs sprout wings and fly. What appalls me is the number of Southerners, like Rawls and the Museum board, who like to play the part of the good little reconstructed Southerner.
Someone once said that in America, the Southerner has 400 years of history behind him while everyone else has 100 years of existence. I'm from the "100 years of existence" group and I don't mind telling you that sometimes I am jealous of what y'all have. As such, when I encounter the Waite Rawls' of the world I am astounded, dismayed, appalled….. I cannot think of enough negatives adjectives to describe the nauseating feeling I get when I encounter these low-lifes. What I would give anything to have, they throw away.
This isn't the first time I've written something on the MOC. A look back over SHNV issues of the last 10 or 11 years would reveal quite a number of posts on the subject written by me.
And this isn't the first time I've mentioned the following as an option either – as Southerners who value your history, you do have one option you can pursue.
When the museum was founded, its artifacts were donated by Southern families whose family members had been in the war. The hope of these families, I believe, was that their family members' sacrifices would be memorialized. There has been much bally-hooing in recent years from museum staff, boasting that the museum is not a memorial but an educational tool. Wrong! The museum WAS meant to be a memorial by the original caretakers and by the families who donated items to it.
I have no doubt that some of you come from families who originally donated items to the Museum way back when. I remember seeing the uniform of a friend's wife's ancestor sitting in one of the display cases. If you are from one of those families, and if your forbearers donated items to the Museum, call up Mr. Rawls and tell him you want the items back. Tell him that your family members did not donate those items so that somewhere down the road, someone could make a mockery of them.
I don't know if such a demand has any legal legs. Only an attorney could give you that information and I'm sure there are some attorneys among you. But I do know that it will give Mr. Rawls a pain in that fat head of his.
As I said, I envy what y'all have. And  I cannot fathom how some Southerners could simply walk away from it or not fight for it. Don't let a museum which originally was designed to memorialize your ancestors be absorbed by the likes of Tredegar with its assortment of Harriet Tubman bobblehead dolls (in its gift shop) – at least, don't let it happen without a fight.
Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Associate Member, SCV Camps 3000, 1506, 1961


Museum of the Confederacy
Further to my earlier correspondence regarding the proposed merger of the aforementioned museum, I show here our letter to Waite Rawls (addressed independently to each Board member) expressing our very real concerns. May I ask all of you, if possible to make our voice heard on this matter as time may not be on our side!!?

Thank you,

Ian Dewar

Waite Rawls Esq
President and CEO
Museum of the Confederacy (HQ)
1201 E. Clay Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Dear Sir,
I am extremely concerned to learn from members of this Foundation, colleagues and friends in the United States, of the proposed merger of various, historical institutions including the Museum of the Confederacy for which you have a responsibility as CEO. As President of the 290 Foundation (BVI) Inc., I share the widespread concern this merger will inevitably lead to a real loss in the identity of your museum and what it purports to represent.
Since the opening of the Museum you currently lead, your refusal to fly the flag of the former Confederacy, (despite representation from many bona-fide institution, groups and associations) has been followed by a concerted effort to obliterate all reference to the Confederacy through the removal of other flags and renaming of public parks! The time has come for this to stop! I urge you and the Board you head-up to take a stand, demonstrate your unwillingness to see this trend continue and lead by example? 
The very real danger the term 'Confederacy' might be lost from any restructuring or the amalgamation of your museum with others, diminishes the importance the term holds for many throughout the US and abroad. The ethic, ideals and indeed the very cause of the Confederacy, are as much part of our joint history as the principles upon which the United States of America were founded over two and a half centuries ago. I would therefore urge you listen to the public outrage your intended action is causing; and stop this merger before it is too late.
I remain sir, your obedient servant,
Ian Dewar B.Sc., F.Inst.SMM., RAF (Ret'd).
President, 290 Foundation (BVI) Inc.
2 Thompson Drive, MOTW.
East Riding of Yorkshire YO25 9TX
United Kingdom