The Sons of Confederate Veterans knew it was a lost cause. 

Ever since demonstrators had toppled Silent Sam in August 2018, the SCV’s North Carolina division had looked for ways to “have the memorial restored to its place of honour [or] to gain possession of the memorial and make an equally prominent public display for it at UNC’s expense,” leader Kevin Stone wrote in a letter to members last week. 

But the experts all told them the same thing: If they went to court, they’d lose. In fact, they didn’t even have the right to sue. 

“We could not get past the issue in North Carolina law of legal standing in the Silent Sam case so to bring a suit,” Stone recounted. “Even if we had filed suit, our complaint would have been challenged and dismissed immediately without result. After extensive consultation (with judges, retired judges, etc.), we were 100% certain that this would be the outcome.”

But then—after outgoing UNC-Chapel Hill chancellor Carol Folt removed Silent Sam’s base from McCorkle Place in January—the UNC Board of Governors came to the rescue. Though UNC knew the SCV couldn’t prevail in court, Stone told his members, officials approached the neo-Confederates about making a deal. 

That kicked off months of secret negotiations, culminating in a controversial settlement announced last Wednesday—the day before Thanksgiving. 

According to Stone, UNC first proposed that the SCV lobby the General Assembly to strengthen the monuments protection law it passed in 2015; after that, though Silent Sam couldn’t return to campus, the SCV would get the monument and perhaps a half-million dollars. 

But the SCV failed to get lawmakers on board. At that point, Stone wrote, “we were despondent and thought that despite the exorbitant expense and almost certain waste of money and zero chance of winning, we were going to have to instruct our attorney to sue just so we could say we tried honourably.”

Before the SCV could file its lawsuit, UNC offered to settle. 

They reached an agreement, codified in a consent decree last week: The SCV would receive the monument plus $2.5 million for its care and the construction of a facility to house it. The money will come from “non-state funds”; the facility can go anywhere except the fourteen counties that host UNC institutions. (Stone said he’d use the money “to build a small museum for the public [and] a comprehensive Division headquarters for the benefit of the membership.”)

Stone called the settlement a “major strategic victory.” 

More accurately, UNC surrendered before the first shot was fired, despite knowing its opponent was hopelessly outgunned. 

The consent decree sidesteps the issue of standing by asserting that the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which donated Silent Sam to UNC in 1913, assigned its legal rights to the SCV. It then says the SCV is entitled to millions of dollars because the UDC’s gift was conditioned on the monument being located on UNC grounds until, well, the heat death of the universe, apparently. 

That’s based on one word—“forever”—in the remarks of a UDC leader a century ago: “Accept this monument and may it stand forever as a perpetual monument to those sons of the university who suffered and sacrificed so much at the call of duty.” 

When Folt removed the monument’s base, the consent decree argues, UNC failed to uphold its end of the bargain. 

Stone’s letter was made public on Monday by T. Greg Doucette, a local attorney, former Board of Governors member, and INDY columnist. Doucette says he received it from an SCV member. 

Stone didn’t respond to the INDY’s request to confirm the letter’s authenticity, and he and SCV attorney Boyd Sturgis declined to comment on their negotiations with UNC. But soon after the INDY’s inquiries, Doucette received a message from Dropbox informing him that access to his file containing Stone’s letter had been disabled because the SCV had claimed copyright infringement.

Doucette first brought to light the peculiar circumstances of the settlement this weekend, after discovering that both the SCV’s complaint and UNC’s response were filed almost simultaneously in Orange County Superior Court on November 27—also the day Judge R. Allen Baddour Jr. signed the consent decree. 

However, court records show that UNC System interim president Bill Roper signed the consent decree a day earlier, and Board of Governors chairman Randy Ramsey signed it the previous week.

In other words, this was orchestrated in advance—and designed to become public on a holiday weekend when few people were paying attention. 

UNC knew it was a bad look. 

A few years after killing an anti-poverty think tank and a civil rights center out of political spite, the Board of Governors—appointed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly—is handing Confederate fetishists $2.5 million to erect a shrine to a white-supremacist insurrection. 

Not because it has to. Because it chose to. 

UNC didn’t respond to the INDY’s request for comment, but former Board of Governors chairman Harry Smith told The News & Observer that UNC was already spending $500,000 a year to shelter Silent Sam and keep the peace between protesters. In the long run, Smith thought the settlement would be worth it.  

Stone told his members that UNC thought the fight wasn’t worth the hassle. 

“While they were not at all worried about losing,” he wrote, “the prospect of another media circus on campus really had them worried, especially given that they have a hostile faculty at UNC and a very nervous donor pool that shies away from any controversy.”

SCV Internal Victory Statement by Jeffrey Billman on Scribd

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at 

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

2 replies on “When the Sons of Confederate Veterans Threatened a Silent Sam Lawsuit They Couldn’t Possibly Win, UNC Surrendered Without a Fight”

  1. This is a matter of great hypocrisy and cowardice. While the SCV bewails the lack of enforcement of the law, the SCV actions in taking possession of the monument and moving it – indeed break the law. Certainly, those that defiled the Silent Sam monument and tore it down, along with those in the Administration of the University, who gave encouragement to official complacency, and even told the Campus Police to stand down, certainly they should be charged criminally. And yes, the District Attorney has obstructed justice and the Legislature should have an impeachment hearing regarding this matter. Likewise, the Historic Commission has not enforced the legal 90-day requirement to restore the monument to its original place of honor. Moreover, the new Chancellor has not only not moved the sculpture but removed its base also. The previous Chancellor was summarily fired, but this one has gotten off scot-free. That is not even equal protection under the law. This new Chancellor is getting special treatment. Above all, the Historic Commission has capitulated to the University, who wants the whole matter to quietly disappear and be forgotten. It is clear that the State sees the monument as a disrupter to the cash flow into the purse of the University.

    This monument cannot be moved legally under the State Law that specifies that Veterans monuments cannot be moved to places of lessor honor or prestige. The Monument is dedicated to the Chapel Hill students who put down their books, assembled on the campus, donned the gray uniforms of the Confederacy, shouldered their muskets and marched off into the unknown maw of battle, from which many did not return. Those students represented the University, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the Confederacy, and they did so proudly. Future alumni of the school honored those students with the Silent Sam Monument and placed it on the university campus to remind students forever of the bravery, honor, and sacrifices of what was nearly the entire student body that gallantly marched off to throw back an invasion, and into the unknown fog a bloody war. There can never be any more fitting or honored site for the presentation and placement of this statue than where it has stood on the Chapel Hill campus for over a hundred years.

    The Historical Commission, the SCV and the University are taking a political dive, breaking the law, and further defaming and slandering the brave students this monument honored. The SCV has no more right to this monument than the man in the moon. The monument was given to the University and it cannot just dispose of it, or transferred it to another party, as this would disgrace the honor of the veterans and all alumni of the school. Certainly, it should not be moved because campus radicals, communists, socialists, black racists, anarchist and professional outside agitators come on the campus specifically to organize and disrupt the peace and tranquility of the academic life of the school. Particularly, when the University Administration has encouraged or turned a blind eye to such an invasion and disruption and even shown sympathy for such nihilism and sedition.

    The Historic Commission can not enter into a transfer agreement, because the law does not provide for such action. What it does provide for is a mandate for re-erection of a Veterans monument within 90 days, from the time in which it was taken down. This is something the Commission could demand and see enforced. But, it has failed to do so. For the parties and the Judge in this matter to state that the movement can be taken off of the University Campus is a legal act and within the law is an outrage. It cannot be moved. Yet, the transfer title is to be encumbered with a restriction that states that the monument can not be re-erected in the fourteen counties in which UNC has campuses. This restriction is a gross and contemptuous affront to the dignity and honor of the Chapel Hill Alumni Veterans and to the entire State of North Carolina, whose citizens fund the university system. Of all those who are signatories to this agreement, the NC SCV must be singled out for this most egregious disrespect to the School’s Confederate Veterans. Their honor and duty have been sold for silver.

    This matter is a gross injustice and slander against North Carolina by all the parties engaged in this conspiracy to whitewash away a problem because none of them clearly have the backbone or courage to stand tall!

    It is the objective of the NAACP national Headquarters in Baltimore to eradicate all symbols of the Confederacy and do so by maligning its name, misrepresenting its deeds by revising history, and moreover by slander and libel through defamation, false “offense”, and by insidious and inflammatory sedition. It is their objective to soft-sell these tactics by false placation of those that would argue for heritage and history. Meanwhile, they revise history to suit their own revisionist historical agenda.

    The NAACP objective is to move monuments to museums and cemeteries and out of the public square and out of sight, where they can be forgotten forever. This is a Fabian ploy. And, that is just what these organizations have capitulated to in their feckless actions. The fingerprints of the NAACP are not on this deed, because they are slick operators, but they have managed to intimidate, coerce, and manipulate the media and the populace to their agenda, here and in communities all across the Southland. Up in Baltimore the leaders of the NAACP must be toasting their success in having maneuvered these gullible, pliable and gentile Southerners to do their bidding with so little effort. One has to give them credit for their pluck and ploy and military-like operation. But those that have conspired and naively fallen into their trap and capitulated to their desires, because they lack courage, have set a bad example. This model is nothing less than lighting a taper to the burning of Rome. We should all tremble in fear for the greater travesty this foolish act may bring down upon us all.

    As that great North Carolinian, sage Gomer Pyle would say, “Shame, Shame, Shame!”

  2. RE: “a perpetual monument to those sons of the university who suffered and sacrificed so much at the call of duty.”
    It`s too bad that neither The Independent, nor the students of UNC, pays any attention at all to that monument dedication.
    Not now, and not when the statue was toppled did either party consider–even briefly–that the UNC Students the monument was dedicated to were not themselves dedicated to slavery and hatred.
    The popular trend is to envision the entire Confederate army riding into battle wearing KKK hoods, determined to keep Blacks enslaved because …..well…Ooooh, they just hate `em!

    Many fought because they saw an invading army from The North shouldering arms against their home, The South. ….Simple as that.
    Many fought because they had been sold LIES by the proponents of their own Southern government, who were , if not large plantation owners themselves, seeking to please such moneyed interests…for whom slavery was making their money.

    In The North, money was also a reason for many to join up and fight AGAINST slavery.

    There were many, many reasons why that was was fought….
    Some were noble, some were mercenary.
    Some were worthy of being remembered, if not for the ultimate wrongness of their cause, but for the fact that they DID sacrifice all for what they thought was a good reason…

    “those sons of the university who suffered and sacrificed so much at the call of duty.”

    Too bad that now they are all painted the same shade of shame by people whose grasp of history is every bit as simple as the lives of those ‘sons of the university’ was complex.

Comments are closed.