A North Carolina man held vigil below the statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville Thursday– wearing the uniform of a Union soldier, carrying an American flag and celebrating the Union cause.
51-year-old James Thorpe is traveling through the South, hoping to educate people about the real issues of the Civil War and to celebrate the sacrifice of Union soldiers. He blames the United Daughters of the Confederacy – a women’s club that promoted statues like that of Robert E. Lee in public parks. They claimed the war was a noble fight for family and tradition.
“So even today you have people who say the Civil War was not fought because of slavery, and that was part of that campaign,” he explains.
He thinks cities like Charlottesville should replace statues of confederate soldiers with those who fought for the Union – men like Abraham Galloway.
“He was a rebel slave, couldn’t read, couldn’t write, ran off from plantations in Eastern North Carolina and later became a state legislator in the North Carolina House and the North Carolina Senate, but he was a union spy,” Thorpe says.
He spent 105 days alongside a confederate statue on the University of North Carolina campus – a statue that was torn down. He received a friendly reception in Charlottesville, with residents bringing food, drink and good wishes.