Texas Legislative Committee Will Study the Role of Confederate Monuments

A Texas Senate Committee is going to study the emotional issue of whether there is a proper way to display Confederate iconography in 21st Century Texas.

The issue has been raised with emotional result in cities across the state, including in San Antonio where the Confederate monument was removed from Travis Park more than two years ago.

The committee, four Republicans and three Democrats, will be in charge of reviewing 'the history and procedures for te placement of art and other decor' in the Senate Chamber, and, conversely, the process by which art which is deemed inappropriate for today will be removed from the chamber.

One of the key issues will be whether a monumental painting depicting Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, which as been displayed in the Texas Senate chamber for decades.

Johnson was the commander of all Texas troops in the Civil War, until he was killed at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. Confederate President Jefferson Davis referred to Johnston as the South's finest military commander.

The Daughters of the Republic of Texas has an Albert Sidney Johnston chapter in Texas, and their lawyer, Tom Crane, doesn't care for Johnston's memory to be erased.

"it is in fortunate that people are pointing to just twelve months as the some total of a man's career," he said.

Johnston enlisted in the Texian army at the beginning of the War of Independence against Mexico, rising to the rank of Brigadier General and taking part in several engagements. After the war, Johnston enlisted in the U.S. Army where he held several comments in the West, and led U.S. troops in several engagements. He was also the Secretary of War for the Republic of Texas.

Johnston, like several career soldiers from the South, opposed succession, but he decided to follow 'my native country' out of the Union and took a commission with the Confederate Army.

He led Rebel troops at the Battles of Ft. Henry, Nashville, and Corinth, but took a bullet in the boot at the Battle of Shiloh and bled to death.

Crane says Johnston's services to the State of Texas and the Republic of Texas are innumerable, and to boil all that down to one year in a Confederate uniform does a disservice to the man.

"He served in the armies of three different countries, and he served in five different wars," he said.

African American Senators, including Royce West (D-Dallas) have raised objections to Johnston's portrait in the Senate Chamber for years, saying it was an affront to the Black Texans who Johnston fought to keep enslaved. Like other African Americans who are fighting against allowing Confederate images and monuments to remain in places of honor, pointed to the embarrassing 'Texas Declaration of Causes,' im which the Texas legislature, upon succeeding from the Union in 1862, spelled out their reasons for joining the Confederacy.

The document spells out in brutal detail 'the subordination and the political and social inequality of the African race.' "She was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery-- the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits," it says "a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time" Opponents of public monuments to Johnston and other Confederates point to this document as proof that the Civil War, and Texas' participation in it, was not about free trade of free navigation of the Mississippi River, but was clearly about an attempt to allow slavery to continue and to prosper in the South.

Photo: Getty Images

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