(ATLANTA - October 31, 2013) Georgia's largest historical preservation group issued a statement today regarding Governor Deal's plan to permanently remove at least one statue from the grounds of the state capitol in Atlanta. Last week, Governor Deal's office announced plans to remove the statue of Georgia statesman Tom Watson from its place in front of the steps of the state capitol as a result ostensibly of planned construction on the grounds of the capitol to begin within the next several months. Many Georgians feel that the decision is aimed more at placating the politically correct views of some lawmakers than it has to do with upcoming construction at the capitol. Outspoken minority lawmakers have criticized the state for continuing to keep the statue of populist Tom Watson in such a prominent place; others see the statue's removal as giving in to revisionist history and trying to hide Georgia's true history. Such is the case with the Georgia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
Tom Watson was born into antebellum Georgia in 1856 and grew up during arguably the most difficult time in the state's history -- federal reconstruction. As a result, he became the champion of the poor in Georgia and was considered to be a leader on the "left" of the aisle politically. After being elected to Congress in 1890, Watson led the push for adoption of "Rural Free Delivery" which extended postal service for the first time to millions of Americans in rural areas. His agrarianism kept him grounded in traditional American culture and kept him constantly at odds with big business, bankers, and big government. He was both a vice-presidential and, later, presidential candidate for the Populist Party in national elections; and was elected as a united States senator from Georgia two years before his death. In the years leading up to his death in 1922, he became an outspoken enemy of socialism and Marxism in America. Today, modern politicians on the "left" have abandoned Watson as their hero because of his "America First" agenda at protecting American culture and economy against the advances of globalism, egalitarianism, and socialism.
Many who are familiar with the legacy of Tom Watson suspect that his strong stand for American principles and his denunciation of socialism and egalitarianism is the reason for some minority lawmakers wanting his statue removed permanently from the capitol grounds, especially in light of the increased push for socialism brought on by the current Obama administration. Still, there are many Georgians, likely a vast majority, who are not comfortable with the practice of erasing or hiding the history of the great state of Georgia. Work began today, under the guidance of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, to insure that the statue of Tom Watson will be returned to its original place on the capitol grounds after renovation work is completed -- if it is moved at all. The Georgia Division is the largest state organization in the SCV nationally and also is the largest historical preservation organization in Georgia. Former Georgia governor Roy Barnes described the grassroots power of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in the state well when he attributed his loss to the first Republican governor since Reconstruction to his decision to change the state flag in 2000, taking on the historical preservation group and others.
Of last week's announcement by Governor Deal's office that the statue of Tom Watson may be moved permanently from the capitol grounds and placed across the street in a more obscure location, Georgia SCV Division Commander Jack Bridwell had this to say, "It is a dangerous thing anytime there is an attempt to rewrite or cover up any people's history. The current decision to begin removing statues of Georgia's elected statesmen from the capitol grounds just because some vocal individuals today may not understand or agree with all of their political decisions a hundred years ago is historical revisionism at its best and an outright attempt to steal our heritage and history as Georgians at its worst. We are committed to seeing that the statues of all of the elected statesmen on the capitol grounds remain as they are and encourage the governor to reconsider the decision to remove any of the statues without committing the necessary funding to restore it to its original place before it is moved in the first place."
For more information about the removal of the Tom Watson statue, or for information about the SCV, please contact Jack Bridwell, Division Commander for the Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans at 1-866-SCV-in-GA or view information online at www.GeorgiaSCV.org.