Editor’s note: According to the agenda for Monday morning’s upcoming Halifax County Board of Commissioners meeting, County Attorney Glynn Rollins is expected to give an update on the author’s request to have a tablet honoring Confederate Brigadier General Junius Daniel be relocated from the grounds of the Historic Courthouse on King Street in Halifax. The board meets at 9:30 a.m. in the commissioners’ room of the old courthouse. This is a follow-up letter the author has forwarded to the county.
I write this letter as I will be unable to attend Monday’s meeting.
Last month, I requested the tablet honoring Confederate Brigadier General Junius Daniel be removed and relocated from the front lawn of the Historic Courthouse in Halifax.
The tablet was dedicated by the now defunct Halifax chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the North Carolina Historical Commission in November, 1929.
My rationale and explanation as to why you should do this were both lengthy.
I advised that Daniel was born in Halifax into a slaveholding family as his grandfather, Willie Daniel, and his father, John Reeves Jones Daniel, a former United States Congressman and North Carolina attorney general, both enslaved Africans.
J.R.J. Daniel accumulated enough wealth to buy land for a plantation in Louisiana.
Gen. Daniel resigned his commission as a U.S. Army first lieutenant in 1858 to manage that plantation.
In 1859, according to Louisiana State Supreme Court records, he bought “certain lands and negroes” from his father.
I told you that Daniel’s family background, plantation management, and this purchase demonstrated his knowledge of how chattel slavery worked, and how it could work for him.
Daniel enlisted in the Army of the Confederate States of America in 1861, was commissioned a brigadier general by September 1862, and died during the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in May 1864, dying for the cause of the Confederacy.
I said that you all could not pledge allegiance to the United States of America during a meeting and allow a reminder of allegiance to the Confederate States of America to remain in your front yard.
I told Vice Chair (Rives) Manning, a veteran, that he had taken an oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies, foreign and domestic,” and that Gen. Daniel was a domestic enemy of the United States. He voiced disapproval of removing and relocating the tablet, citing Daniel’s service in the U.S. Army and his death.
While Daniel did serve in the U.S. Army, he did not die as a member of it. He died serving in the Confederate Army, the military branch of the CSA, another nation that went to war against our republic.
County Attorney Rollins was instructed to determine tablet ownership. Since then, I’ve learned that in June 1929, your predecessors on the commission gave the Halifax UDC chapter permission to erect a memorial on the courthouse lawn.
I don’t think the NC Division of the UDC nor the Historical Commission will claim ownership, so I am interested in how you will proceed.
Incumbents are running unopposed, so no one’s political future is at stake. Will there be a deadlocked 3-3 vote to stagnate the issue? Will you vote unanimously to remove and relocate? Will you not take any action at all in hopes that the issue will go away?
And if you vote against removal, or don’t take any action, what about the Confederacy are you trying to protect?
Rodney D. Pierce
2019 NC Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year
Teacher Fellow, NC Equity Fellowship