"Silent Sam," Confederate Monument, University of North Carolina

Silent Sam Unveiling, Postcard,1913.

Dublin Core


"Silent Sam," Confederate Monument, University of North Carolina


The Confederate Monument, or “Silent Sam,” is a bronze statue created by John A. Wilson and sponsored by the United Daughters of Confederacy (UDC) and University of North Carolina (UNC) alumni, who paid for one-third and two-thirds of the total cost respectively. [3] The statue was erected on June 2, 1913 “in memory of the Chapel Hill boys, who left college, 1861-1865 and joined our Southern Army in defense of our state” in UNC Chapel Hill’s McCorkle Place. [3] The sculptor John A. Wilson made the statue silent by not including an ammunition cartridge making him unable to fire his gun.

Over the years, the statue was vandalized by paint, written on, and finally toppled over. In 2015, North Carolina passed a law (Senate Bill 22) that provided protection to monuments and memorials “commemorating events, persons, and military service in North Carolina history” from any removal, relocation or alteration. [4] Due to this law, students took action into their own hands.

On August 20, 2018, students held a rally against the statue following the removal of another Confederate monument that once stood in front of the Durham County’s courthouse. Fliers for the event called for Silent Sam’s Last Semester,” which included a sit-in protest and ended with students putting ropes around the statue. [3] At 9:20 pm, the statue fell by being pulled off its base and the school issued an investigation.

The UNC planted a tree in its place. The University made a settlement with the local Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) returning the statue to them with SCV agreeing to not display it on any University campus. The SCV sued the University, so the UNC offered to give them a trust fund of $2.5 million to care for the statue within minutes. Judge Allen Baddour approved the settlement at first but then denied after the Lawyer’s Committee for civil rights Under Law (on behalf of three UNC law students, two UNC undergrad students, and a faculty member) filed a motion to intervene followed by an appeal after the motion was denied. [5] The University changed the payment from $5.3 million in state funds to build a new center for Silent Sam to the $2.5 million of non-state funds. [6]

In January 2019, the statue’s 9-foot tall base pedestal and its commemorative plaques were removed by the University. [7]


John Wilson, Sculptor
North Carolina Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and UNC alumni, Sponsors


  1. Warren-Hicks, Colin. “A Look at the Long and Controversial Life of ‘Silent Sam.’” News Observer, August 23, 2017.
  2. Wamsley, Laurel. “Judge Voids UNC’s Controversial Settlement Over Confederate Statue ‘Silent Sam.’” NPR, February 12, 2020.
  3. “A Guide to Resources about UNC’s Confederate Monuments: Timeline.” University Archives at UNC Chapel Hill, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2021. https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/silent-sam/timeline
  4. “General Assembly of North Carolina Session 2015: Session Law 2015-170 Senate Bill 22.” North Carolina General Assembly, July 23, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2021. https://www.ncleg.gov/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/PDF/S22v5.pdf
  5. Holcombe, Madeline. “Court reverses settlement that would give $2.5 million in university funds to protect Confederate monument.” CNN, February 13, 2020. Accessed November 13, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/13/us/silent-sam-university-of-north-carolina-reversal/index.html
  6. Lam, Kristin. “University of North Carolina gives ‘Silent Sam’ statue, toppled by protestors in 2018, to Confederate group.” USA Today, November 27, 2019, Updated November 28, 2019. Accessed November 13, 2021. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/11/27/silent-sam-university-north-carolina-confederate-statue/4323970002/
  7. Thomason, Andy and Johnson, Steven. “UNC Chancellor Steps Down and Orders the Removal of Silent Sam’s Remains.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 14, 2019. Accessed November 13, 2021. https://www.chronicle.com/article/unc-chancellor-steps-down-and-orders-the-removal-of-silent-sams-remains/?bc_nonce=e25wek9x0r3t6je49ios2&cid=reg_wall_signup


June 2, 1913 to August 20, 2018 (-January 2019)


Patrick Michael (2020), Grislean Palacios (2021)




Bronze Sculpture


HIST 402A (Fall 2020, 2021)


Chapel Hill, North Carolina