Lexington: The Confederate Statues are Coming Down




Breckinridge statue with Cheapside in the background

August, 2017

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Mayor Jim Gray announced that Lexington would start the process of removing two Confederate statues from their downtown location.  Predictably, furious comments immediately poured in on local media websites.  This decision on the statues has been under discussion since the mass shooting in Charleston in 2015, but it took this heinous attack to move the City to finally act.



The John Hunt Morgan statue, protected during renovation of the old Fayette County Courthouse


Gray says it’s just not right to honor John Hunt Morgan and John Breckinridge who fought to preserve slavery on the same grounds at Cheapside where men, women, and children were once sold into slavery….The two monuments honor Lexington native John C. Breckinridge, a former USA vice president who became the final war secretary of the Confederacy, and John Hunt Morgan, a Confederate general who raised the “Lexington Rifles” and died in battle.  PBS NewsHour

The statues stand on the grounds of the old Fayette County Courthouse in the heart of Lexington.  That same block was the location of one of the largest slave markets in the South–known as Cheapside–before the Civil War.


cheapside slave auction

Cheapside slave auction

During the dark era of slavery in Kentucky, the section of town in Lexington known as “cheapside” became the largest slave-trading locality in the state.  In fact, the area was one of the most well known of the slave market districts in the South.  Africans were beaten and families were separated forever as they were auctioned and sold in the courtyard.  According to historical narratives, President Abraham Lincoln once observed the selling of slaves at this site.  VisitLex.com





Cheapside today–Lexington Farmers’ Market





The old Fayette County Courthouse undergoing renovation






john hunt morgan statue

John Hunt Morgan statue




John Cabell Breckinridge


4 thoughts on “Lexington: The Confederate Statues are Coming Down

  1. Wow, a historic moment. I hope the KKK doesn’t descend on Lexington next to protest this. Really an offensive juxtaposition of these statues, so it is right that they go somewhere else or into a museum where there is historical explanation to go with them, not just the glorification that they currently had.


    1. I have no doubt that Lexington is making itself a White Nationalist target in taking this action. The statues may be moved to Veterans’ Park, where they will be placed in historical context along with two Union statues. And, yes, the juxtaposition of the Confederate statues with the slave auction site is just so wrong, but no one thought anything of it. Until now.


  2. Hopefully, by removing these statues,we can start to develop a new sensibility regarding the causes and outcomes of the Civil War. Perhaps there will come a time when,removing these statues is the only option. In other words,our nation will finally begin to heal.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Virginia and Kathy, a quick update on Lexington’s Confederate statues–they’ve both been moved to the historic Lexington Cemetery, where both men are buried.


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