Silent Sam

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This article is about the statue. For other uses, see Silent Sam (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 35°54′50.22″N 79°3′8.55″W / 35.9139500°N 79.0523750°W / 35.9139500; -79.0523750 (Silent Sam)

Silent Sam
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Silent Sam by sculptor John A. Wilson
Silent Sam by sculptor John A. Wilson
Erected 1913
Location Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Silent Sam is a statue of a Confederate soldier by John Wilson on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1] It is located on McCorkle Place, the university's upper quad; facing Franklin Street on the northern edge of campus.[2]

The statue was funded by the University Alumni and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. It was erected in 1913 as a memorial to the 321 alumni who lost their lives in the American Civil War and all students who joined the Confederate States Army. More than one thousand members of the university fought in the American Civil War in either the Northern or Southern armies, comprising at least 40% of the student body, a statistic that was unequaled by any other school.[citation needed] A bronze image on the front of the memorial depicts a young student dropping his books as he looks up to answer a call to duty. The statue was to commemorate 50 years since the beginning of the war (1911).[3]

At the 1913 dedication of the monument, industrialist Julian Carr gave a speech wherein he credited the soldiers of the Confederacy of having "saved the very life of the Anglo Saxon race in the South," and as a consequence, "the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States," after which he ends his speech by relating a personal anecdote of having soon after the war "horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds" in Chapel Hill for having "publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady," and having performed this "pleasing duty" sought protection at the university.[4]

Silent Sam, John A. Wilson's Waban Studio, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Similar to the sculpture Wilson created of an unarmed Union soldier Daniel A. Bean, Wilson created a "silent" statue by not including a cartridge box on the Confederate soldier's belt so he cannot fire his gun.[5]

Like its neighbor, the Unsung Founders Memorial, the statue has frequently been a source of controversy. It is seen by some as symbol of historical remembrance, while others view it as a sign of racial oppression. Students gathered here to speak out after Los Angeles police officers were found not guilty in the 1992 Rodney King trial.[6]


  1. ^ Light on the Hill: A History of the University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill By William D. Snider, p. 148
  2. ^ "The Civil War Years." The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History. Retrieved on March 1, 2008.
  3. ^ United Daughters of the Confederacy p. 66
  4. ^ "'Unveiling of Confederate Monument at University,' folder 26, in the Julian Shakespeare Carr Papers, 1892-1923". The Southern Historical Collection. Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  5. ^ ."Silent Sam (Civil War Monument)." The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Virtual Tour. Retrieved on March 1, 2008.
  6. ^ "Silent Sam." The Weiss Urban Livability Program. Retrieved on March 1, 2008.

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