Monument Lab and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have created a National Monument Audit. The researcher who wrote the report looked at over 50,000 “conventional” monuments in the 50 states and U.S. territories. The purpose of the work is to drive a better understanding of “dynamics and trends” and review how the public views monuments, in both ways that are mistaken and others that are accurate.
The work could not come at a better time. There recently have been bitter debates about whether some monuments should be taken down or destroyed. This is particularly true of monuments to the politicians and generals who were part of the Confederacy. There has been a great deal of pressure to end the homage these monuments pay to people who supported slavery and a war that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. This process has been ongoing for several years and culminated in the removal of the 12-ton Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia, a city that was once the capital of the Confederacy.
However, the huge majority of monuments do not have this problem. One of the most prominent parts of the study is a list of top 50 individuals recorded in U.S. public monuments. They are a mix of presidents, other prominent politicians, religious figures and people who were part of the civil rights movement. Abraham Lincoln tops this list with 193, followed by George Washington at 171. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has 86.
Across the states, the one with the most monuments based on the National Monument Audit is Pennsylvania at 1,031. New York State is second at 797, followed by Massachusetts at 551. The state with the fewest is Alaska with just 11. There is a pattern based on population. California is near the top of the list with 347 monuments which put it in fifth place. It is the state with the largest population. It is immediately followed by Texas with 346. It is the state with the second-largest population