A time capsule buried 130 years ago in the base of a statue of a Confederate general was opened on Wednesday, revealing several waterlogged books and other artifacts.
The bronze statue of General Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, was dismantled in September in Richmond, the city of Virginia which was the capital of the South during the bloody conflict of 1861- 65.
Unveiled in 1890, the towering figure of Lee riding a horse is one of hundreds of Confederate monuments in the United States that are widely regarded as symbols of racism.
Once the sculpture was blown into pieces, work crews began searching the 12-meter-high granite plinth for a time capsule that would be hidden in a cornerstone of the base in 1887.
They abandoned the search after several days, but discovered the time capsule last week while dismantling the pedestal and took it to the Department of Historic Resources in Richmond to be opened.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ceremoniously lifted the shoebox lid on Wednesday after Tories spent several hours scraping lead and mortar to seal the container.
According to an 1887 newspaper article, the time capsule contained Civil War relics such as buttons and bullets, Confederate currency, maps, a Bible, a photo of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin and other objects.
The box opened on Wednesday contained three books, a cloth envelope with a photograph and a coin of unknown origin. The books, envelope and photo had all suffered water damage.
One of the books was the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac of 1875, a guide for astronomers, surveyors, and mariners.
Another, however, appeared to be a book published in 1889, two years after the time capsule was said to have been buried, suggesting that another time capsule may be hidden in the pedestal.
The statue of Lee in Richmond became the subject of racial justice protests last year after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was murdered by a white police officer in Minnesota.
During the Civil War, the Confederate South seceded from the United States and fought to maintain slavery, which the rest of the country had abolished.
cl / ml