Earlier this month, the last major Confederate monument in California came down. It was a curious one: a nine-foot granite pillar in an Orange County cemetery, bearing the names of several Southern leaders, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, who never even set foot on the Pacific coast.
Dead Confederates are hard to find in California. Yet the Golden State once contained far more rebel tributes than any other state outside the South itself.
Beginning in the early twentieth century and continuing into the twenty-first, Confederate memorial associations in California established more than a dozen monuments and place-names to the rebellion. They dedicated highways to Jefferson Davis, named schools for Robert E. Lee, and erected large memorials to the common Confederate soldier.
Why was a free state, far removed from the major military theaters of the Civil War, once such fertile soil for Confederate memorialization?
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