Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Judah P. Benjamin Memorial, Charlotte

  • Type

    Marker

  • Subjects

    Historic Political Figures

    Removed Monuments

    Civil War, 1861-1865

  • City

    Charlotte

  • County

    Mecklenburg

  • Description

    The memorial for Judah Benjamin, who was variously Attorney General, Secretary of War and Secretary of State for the Confederacy, is a simple flat arch granite tablestone. Set into the sidewalk in downtown Charlotte, it has a finished front facing a building with the unfinished back facing the street. It marks the spot of the home where he stayed while visiting Charlotte near the end of the Civil War.

  • Inscription

    IN MEMORY OF / JUDAH P. BENJAMIN / ATTORNEY GENERAL, SECRETARY / OF WAR, AND SECRETARY OF STATE / OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT. / HE WAS THE GUEST OF ABRAM WEIL / APRIL 18-26, 1865, WHOSE HOME / STOOD ON THIS SITE.

    THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED IN / HIS HONOR BY TEMPLE ISRAEL / AND TEMPLE BETH EL, THE JEWISH / CONGREGATIONS OF CHARLOTTE, AS / A GIFT TO THE NORTH CAROLINA / DIVISION, UNITED DAUGHTERS OF / THE CONFEDERACY. / OCTOBER 1, 1948

  • Custodian

    City of Charlotte

  • Dedication Date

    October 1, 1948

  • Decade

    1940s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.225920 , -80.844740 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "Judah P. Benjamin Monument Bearing the Names of Temple Beth El and Temple Israel," June 17, 2020, templebethel.org, (accessed November 17, 2020) Link

      "Judah Philip Benjamin," Find a Grave, findagrave.com, (accessed January 25, 2017) Link

      Cooper, Andrea. "Charlotte’s Monument to a Jewish Confederate Was Hated Even Before It Was Built," Smithsonian Magazine, www.smithsonianmag.com, September 23, 2020, (accessed November 17, 2020) Link

      Solomon, Zachary. “What to Do About the Jewish Slaveholders?” JEWNIVERSE, http://thejewniverse.com, October 19, 2015, (accessed January 18, 2017) Link

      “Judah Benjamin,” Jewish Virtual Library, jewishvirtuallibrary.org, (accessed January 18, 2017) Link

      “Monument Honoring Jew Is Unveiled at UDC Conference,” The Daily Times-News (Burlington, NC), October 1, 1948

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Granite

  • Sponsors

    The Jewish Congregations of Temple Israel and Temple Beth El

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The memorial was dedicated during the North Carolina Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy Conference held in Charlotte in October 1948.

  • Subject Notes

    Benjamin was raised in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Sephardic Jews who had emigrated from England via the West Indies. After attending Yale, Benjamin moved to New Orleans, where he became a lawyer and wealthy slave owner. He was a United States Senator representing Louisiana when the Civil War broke out and offered his services to the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis appointed him Attorney General making him the first Jew to hold a cabinet level position in an American government. After the Civil War he fled to exile in England where he became a barrister and eventually a counsel to Queen Victoria. He is considered to be one of the least understood and most controversial figures in Jewish American history. He has been called “the brains of the Confederacy” by some historians and then blamed for the South’s defeat by others. He died on May 6, 1884 in Paris, France.

  • Controversies

    Following the massacre of nine African Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 by white supremacist Dylann Roof, Americans, especially southerners, have reflected on and argued over the historical legacy of slavery, the Civil War, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. Monuments have been a particular focus of these debates and controversies, especially after the death of a counter-protester, Heather Heyer, at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 and after President Donald Trump expressed his opposition to the removal of Confederate memorials. Despite laws in many southern states intended to prevent or impede the removal or relocation of historical monuments, protesters and local community leaders have removed or relocated controversial monuments associated with slavery, the Confederacy, and white supremacy. The pace of the removal of controversial monuments accelerated sharply in 2020, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Against the backdrop of protests against police brutality and white supremacy across the nation, local authorities in many communities in North Carolina removed and/or relocated monuments that were the focus of civil unrest.

    In early June 2020, the memorial to Judah Benjamin, a prominent advocate of white supremacy, was defaced. On June 17, 2020, the congregations of Temple Beth El and Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC, asked the Mayor, City Council, and City Manager to remove the confederate monument. The petition stated: "We should neither celebrate the Confederacy nor honor the legacy of white supremacy. The monument does not belong in a place of prominence within our city, just like German cities do not memorialize or erect statues to Nazis." On June 24, the city authorities removed the historic marker and put it in a storage.

    Images: Officials removed the monument after protesters spray painted "BLM" across it earlier this summer

  • Location

    On June 24, 2020, the city authorities removed the historic marker and put it in a storage. The memorial stood at 237 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC, in front of a building that currently houses a FedEx Office Print & Ship Center.

  • Landscape

    The memorial marker stood on a sidewalk, with the inscription facing the FedEx building.

  • Removed

    Yes

  • Former Locations

    The memorial stood at 237 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC, in front of a building that currently houses a FedEx Office Print & Ship Center.

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