When attorneys for the UNC Board of Governors and N.C. Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans appeared in court last month to defend a the controversial “Silent Sam” legal settlement, they were frank about their goal.
“The Board of Governors did not want to win this case,” said Ripley Rand, the former U.S. Attorney who represented the UNC System and its Board of Governors. “The Board of Governors wanted finality, to bring this issue to a close.”
Rand acknowledged there were complicated questions of law on the statue’s ownership that go back to its placement on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in 1913. The board could have fought out those legal questions all the way to the Supreme Court, he said, but it preferred a quick and final solution to the problem.
This week UNC alumni and donors — and a prominent former university historian — filed briefs in the case insisting the the university will have to face the historical facts and answer those complicated questions if it intends to give the “Silent Sam” monument to the Sons of Confederate Veterans — along with $2.5 million in a non-profit trust.
In a brief filed Wednesday Cecelia Moore, UNC’s University Historian from 2014 until her retirement last year, cast serious doubt on claims that the North Carolina Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy ever owned the statue, which would mean they could not transfer rights to it to the Sons of Confederate Veterans group, giving them standing to sue the university.