3. Stone Mountain Opening and Public Reception

Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Carving 6 cent stamp.
View of Stone Mountain from Atlanta (zoomed in).
Vice President Spiro Agnew addresses the crowd at Stone Mountain Park, 1970.

Dublin Core


3. Stone Mountain Opening and Public Reception


The Confederate Memorial Carving at Stone Mountain was originally to be unveiled on the centennial of the Civil War in 1961, but the carving was not completed in time.[1] Stone Mountain Park officially opened on April 14, 1965, the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.[2] The following Sunday, an estimated 600 people hiked to the top of Stone Mountain for a 5 a.m. Easter service.[3] The official commemoration for the monument was held on May 9,1970 to an anticipated crowd of over 100,000. In attendance were Governor Lester Maddox, U.S. Congressmen Sen. Richard Russell, Sen. Herman Talmadge and Rep. Ben Blackburn, and Vice President Spiro Agnew dedicated the monument (originally scheduled for President Nixon who cancelled due to Vietnam War). Governor representatives from all 50 states accepted invitations in addition to consuls from the Great Britain, Germany, Iceland, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, and South Africa. [4]

Public perception of the monument was overwhelmingly positive. Protests to the monument were few. KKK Imperial Wizard James Venable protested unsuccessfully to having Rev. William Holmes Borders give the commemoration benediction because he was “a member of the negro [sic] race” and it “is not in good taste and repugnant to a sense of respect due the memory of the confederates [sic] veterans.”[5] Other protests came from having Agnew dedicate the monument. Public perception was that he had “the grace of a drill sergeant and the understanding of a 19th century prison camp warden” and was in contrast to the “honorable men” on the monument. Despite this, “Southern hospitality” and “a courteous hearing” was to be given by the audience.[6] Other protest came in the monument itself. At a protest with over 800 students following the Kent State shootings, Dr. Eugene Bianchi, religion professor at Emory University, said that civil rights leaders and not “military men riding their steeds” should be carved on Stone Mountain.[7] Stone Mountain has steadily grown into one of Georgia's premiere tourist attractions.


1. Richard Fausset, “Stone Mountain: The Largest Confederate Monument Problem in the World,” U.S., The New York Times, October 18, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/us/stone-mountain-confederate-removal.html;
Rebecca Onion, “Hatred Set in Stone,” History, Slate, July 8, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/07/stone-mountain-georgia-confederacy-history.html.

2. Joni Zeccola, “Stone Mountain Timeline,” Things to Do, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 11, 2012, https://www.ajc.com/entertainment/celebrity-news/stone-mountain-timeline/R2luAvMz783IXvblS7TmZP/.

3. Dale Curry, ”Religious Spirit Proves Itself At Crowded Sunrise Services,” The Atlanta Constitution 97, no. 259 (Atlanta, GA), April 19, 1965, https://www.newspapers.com/image/398418904/.

4. Gene Stephens, “100,000 Due At Stone Mtn. Ceremonies,” The Atlanta Constitution 102, no. 277 (Atlanta, GA), May 9, 1970, https://www.newspapers.com/image/398887401/; ibid., https://www.newspapers.com/image/398887450/.

5. Ibid.; ibid.

6. Reg Murphy, “Shame and Disgrace,” The Atlanta Constitution 102, no. 277 (Atlanta, GA), May 9, 1970, https://www.newspapers.com/image/398887422.

7. Terry Adamson, “March On Here Today,” The Atlanta Constitution 102, no. 277 (Atlanta, GA), May 9, 1970, https://www.newspapers.com/image/398887441/.


Clay Kenworthy




HIST 402A Fall 2020


Stone Mountain Park, Georgia