Violence against blacks only increased in the early decades of the 20th century. In addition to continued lynching across the South, the Atlanta race riot of 1906 demonstrated how seriously white men took their supremacy over African Americans: An estimated 10,000 white men and boys in the city went after black men, beating dozens to death and injuring hundreds more.As we noted before, the Confederate memorial in Hot Springs, a
Amid that brutality, the pace of Confederate monument construction quickened. The UDC and other like-minded heritage organizations were intent on honoring the Confederate generation and establishing a revisionist history of what they called the War Between the States. According to this Lost Cause mythology, the South went to war to defend states’ rights, slavery was essentially a benevolent institution that imparted Christianity to African “savages,” and, while the Confederates were defeated, theirs was a just cause and those who fought were heroes. The Daughters regarded the Ku Klux Klan, which had been founded to resist Reconstruction, as a heroic organization, necessary to return order to the South. Order, of course, meant the use of violence to subdue newly freed blacks.
During the era of Jim Crow, Confederate monuments could be placed most anywhere. Some were in cemeteries or parks, but far more were erected on the grounds of local and state courthouses. These monuments, then, not only represented reverence for soldiers who fought in a war to defend slavery. They also made a very pointed statement about the rule of white supremacy: All who enter the courthouse are subject to the laws of white men.