North Carolina Law Review

University of North Carolina School of Law

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Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Who Owns the Confederate Monument in Winston-Salem?

December 9, 2019

98 N.C. L. REV. F. 16 (2019)

 

In 1905, the United Daughters of the Confederacy’s James B. Gordon Chapter of Winston-Salem erected a monument to the Confederacy on the grounds of the Forsyth County Courthouse. The monument stood on Forsyth County property until 2014 when the Forsyth County Commissioners sold the old courthouse and the surrounding courthouse square to a real estate developer. After multiple instances of vandalism to the monument, the City of Winston-Salem ordered the United Daughters of the Confederacy (“UDC”) to remove the monument. The city and Forsyth County believe that the UDC owns the monument. But, the UDC says that Forsyth County is the true owner. Regardless, the city removed the monument from the courthouse square in March 2019. Ongoing legal proceedings between the UDC and the city, county, and current property owner focus on the question of whether the city is allowed to remove the monument under a state law that prohibits the permanent removal of objects of commemoration. This Recent Development argues that determining the owner of the monument is an essential threshold question and finds that Forsyth County owns the monument using two theories: the common law of gifts and constructive ownership via government speech.

 

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