RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Now that an iconic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee has been taken down from its perch above Richmond’s Monument Avenue, crews plan to remove a piece of history from its gigantic pedestal.
A time capsule from 1887 that state officials believe is tucked inside the statue’s base is set to be removed Thursday. It will be replaced with a new time capsule that contains items reflective of current times, including an expired vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, a Black Lives Matter sticker and a photograph of a Black ballerina with her fist raised near the Lee statue after racial justice protests erupted following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
Historical records and imaging tests helped state officials pinpoint the capsule’s location in the cornerstone of the 40-foot tall concrete pedestal.
A newspaper article from 1887 suggests that the copper time capsule contains mostly memorabilia, including a U.S. silver dollar and a collection of Confederate buttons. But one line from that article has piqued the interest of historians. Listed among the artifacts is a “picture of Lincoln lying in his coffin.”
It is unclear what kind of a picture it is, but the article says it was donated by “Miss Pattie Leake,” who was a school principal from a prominent local family.