Remove the marker for Confederate General John H. Winder from Salisbury, MD.
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On the grounds of the Old Wicomico County Courthouse in Salisbury, MD is a historical marker commemorating John Henry Winder, a general in the army of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Born in Somerset county in 1800, he eventually came to command all of the military prison camps of the Confederacy - including the notorious Andersonville prison camp where 13,000 of approximately 45,000 Union prisoners-of-war perished due to malnutrition, exposure, and disease.
On the face of it, this marker is simply just another example of the place of honor given to those who have fought for the cause of White Supremacy. And while certainly not on the scale of the many statues to more famous figures of the Confederacy scattered across the nation, this particular monument hits much closer to home, and not simply for the reason that John Winder was born nearby.
Not a stone's throw from this marker is the Old Wicomico County Courthouse, which was built in 1878 on the site of the former Byrd Tavern. According to local historian Linda Duyer, this tavern was also a community center where slaves were kept waiting to be sold off. The same slaves whose perpetual bondage was fought for by soldiers of the Confederacy. A marker honoring a confederate general, a person who supported the cause of slavery, sits within easy view of where black Americans were once treated like cattle waiting to be bought.
If this juxtaposition were not damning enough, equally as close to the marker is the site of the brutal lynching of a young black man names Matthew Williams. In December of 1931, he was accused of killing his employer. Having been abducted from his hospital room by a mob of hundreds of white Salisbury residents, he was dragged through the streets and eventually hanged from a tree just outside the courthouse.
Again, this happened mere steps from where this current marker now stands. This marker... proudly honoring the history of a local general who fought in an army - and for a cause - that declared black people were inferior and deserving of subjugation.
The status and removal of monuments honoring the Confederacy has begun to reach a fever pitch in the national conversation. Many declare that it is past time that these monuments to White Supremacist ideology were banished to the exhibit halls of museums. Others fight for their remaining a part of the landscape, because they feel it is vital history to acknowledge.
But there is no marker for the slaves bought and sold at Byrd Tavern.
There is no marker for Matthew Williams.
Whose history are we choosing to remember?
Whose history are we choosing to forget?
Now is the time to add our own voices to the conversation, and our own actions to history.
We, the signers of this petition, being declared residents of Wicomico County, demand that the Wicomico County Council remove the sign commemorating General John Henry Winder from the grounds of the old Wicomico County Courthouse.
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