Having monitored arguments for and against moving the Talbot Boys statue and participating in past hearings, I’ve shared these observations with our County Council regarding current efforts to relocate the Talbot Boys.
The reason we’re hearing most frequently to keep the statue in its present location is to preserve Talbot’s rich history. That is a noble cause. We don’t want to forget what happened.
But monuments on public grounds are understood to be representative of public speech. So when a monument is understood to commemorate, honor, or celebrate a treasonous effort to divide our nation and preserve slavery, it would ideally not be located on public property.
We have also been offered the suggestion that the Talbot Boys should stay because Confederate soldiers were pardoned and therefore considered to be innocent. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Field offered this opinion in Ex parte Garland: Regarding a presidential pardon, “in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense.”
But this is an opinion, not a ruling. We also have Supreme Court Justice Joseph McKenna’s majority opinion in Burdick v. United States: A pardon “carries an imputation of guilt, acceptance, a confession of it.” In any case, a pardon is defined as an executive order granting clemency for a conviction, and is ordinarily granted in recognition of an applicant’s acceptance of responsibility.
We also have precedent. When monuments are found to represent a violation of basic international standards of human rights, in nations that respect these standards, they are removed.
In any case, we have green space in Talbot County, and we could surely find a more suitable location for the Talbot Boys to remind us of our history without upsetting so many of our citizens.
Hoping this will be resolved soon, and thank you for your attention to this matter.