Virginia Confederate Monuments on the Ballot in Mathews, Nottoway, and Middlesex Counties


Local voters in three counties are voting in advisory referenda on what to do with confederate monuments in Mathews County, Nottoway County, and Middlesex County. The referenda are non-binding, but are used as a tool to understand public opinion before local officials make a final decision.

In 2020, the General Assembly changed its laws about monuments, finally allowing localities to decide if they want to remove, relocate, contextualize, or cover publicly-owned monuments, as long as they provided two periods of 30-days’ notice and a public hearing. The law also allows the localities to hold optional referenda.

The Mathews County confederate monument was erected in 1912 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In May, the board voted unanimously in favor of holding a referendum. The Gazette Journal said the meeting was raucous with opposition from the public. The Mathews HUB and The Journal have reported that the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) have clashed with the board over removal of political signs opposing removal of the monument.

The Nottoway County confederate monument was erected in 1893 by the Ladies Memorial Association of Nottoway. After hearing public comment on September 17, 2020, a week later the Nottoway Board voted unanimously to hold a referendum on relocating the monument. Congress has also required Fort Pickett, in Nottoway to be renamed since it commemorates Confederate Major General George Pickett who fought at Gettysburg, according to The Associated Press.

The Middlesex County confederate monument was erected in 1910 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The county Board of Supervisors voted three-to-two in July to hold the referendum; in a September 7 meeting, multiple members of the public spoke for and against the monument, according to The Southside Sentinel. Some residents advocated for removal, with some noting that it is linked to slavery, while others commented on its ties to local history.

In non-binding referenda in November 2020, voters in six counties said they wanted to keep their monuments. That year, 13 other localities removed their monuments without referenda.

In 2021, two high-profile monuments of Robert Lee were removed from city centers in Charlottesville and Richmond with the approval of the Virginia Supreme Court. According to a September 2021 list from The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), Eastville and Isle of Wight also removed monuments in 2021.

The VPAP list includes over 80 localities where confederate monuments remain. In addition to Mathews, Nottoway, and Middlesex, VPAP reported that officials in King George, Salem, and Tappahanock are also deciding about their monuments.

After the referenda on Tuesday, local officials will have to decide if they will retain or remove their monuments.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Nottoway County Courthouse” by self. CC BY 3.0.





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