Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Mississippi's Women of the Confederacy Monument
Located on the south side of the Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson is a monument dedicated to the “Women of the Confederacy.” Cast in 1917 at Tiffany Studios in New York, the monument features two female figures and one male figure, a wounded and dying soldier. To the left of the soldier, a sympathetic woman is presenting a palm of glory to the soldier, a symbol of triumph even in death. Above both the soldier and the woman stands “Fame.” She, in turn, is placing a wreath on the head of the woman in recognition of her contribution to the Confederate cause. Below the bronze figures are four inscriptions facing each direction, and dedicated to “our” mothers, daughters, sisters and wives. On the southern face, which is the front of the monument, is a quote from Jefferson Davis which, among other virtues, praises the women “whose pious ministrations to our wounded soldiers soothed the last hours of those who died far from the objects of their tenderest love.”
No greater day has ever dawned in Mississippi than this day, June 3, 1912, when the men of our great State with one accord assemble to pay homage to the women of the Confederacy. And no more appropriate date could have been selected than this anniversary of the natal day of Jefferson Davis, the central figure of the Confederacy, the incarnation of the principles for which the South stood, and the vicarious sufferer for the South when at Fortress Monroe he suffered all the humiliation and degradation that could be heaped upon him; but he was ever sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust and rose supreme above the hatred of his enemies. In those celestial regions yonder, if it is given to the spirit eye to gaze upon earthly scenes, we know that grand galaxy of Confederate heroes, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and our own Stephen D. Lee, and a host of others, is looking down on us now with blessings and approval.
Belle Marshall Kinney, born in 1890, was just seven years old when she won her first prize for sculpture at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. In 1905 (at age 15), she earned a scholarship to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. She later served as an instructor at the Institute. Kinney received her first commission in 1907. When awarded the job of creating the “new” Women of the Confederacy Monument, she was still just twenty-three years old. Although the goal of the UCV was to select a design that could be used throughout the South, the model produced by Kinney (left) also failed to satisfy all of the critics. Unfortunately, her design – the sculpture ultimately selected by the State of Mississippi – was only placed in two locations: Jackson and in her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. By the time the committee finally selected Kinney’s design, other Southern states had grown tired of waiting and decided to go their own way. When the Jackson monument was finally installed during the state's centennial year in 1917 at a cost of $20,000, Mississippi was among the last three states to erect a monument to their Confederate women. Sadly, the Tennessee monument has been incorporated into a larger memorial plaza and has somewhat lost its original context and meaning.
In 1921, Kinney married Leopold Scholz, a sculptor from Austria, and they collaborated on a number of significant works, including many of the statues at the Parthenon at Nashville’s Centennial Park. Kinney and Scholz also designed the Victory statue in the Bronx. Dedicated in 1933, the memorial commemorates the 947 soldiers from the Bronx who lost their lives during World War I. Kinney died in New York in 1959, but her work lives on in front of the Mississippi State Capitol.
PHOTO AND IMAGE SOURCES:
(1) Women’s Monument: Photo by author
(2) Rev. Waddell: http://records.ancestry.com
(3) Amateis monument: http://spider.georgetowncollege.edu
(4) Belle Kinney: http://www.flickr.com
(5) Mississippi monument detail: Photo by author