A second time capsule discovered under a Confederate statue

A time capsule was discovered on Monday in the base of a statue of a Confederate general unbolted in September, reviving hopes of discovering a photo of Abraham Lincoln eagerly awaited by collectors.

“They found her! », Tweeted the governor of Virginia (United States) Ralph Northam, a week after the opening of a first capsule which had disappointed the experts. “This is probably the time capsule that everyone was looking for,” he added on Monday, attaching photos of a rectangular metal box about thirty centimeters long to his message.

Placed under the base of the statue in 1987

The box will be opened at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, he added later, indicating that the capsule had been x-rayed. “Experts believe that there could be coins, books, insignia and even Civil War ammunition, ”he tweeted. A time capsule is a receptacle containing objects or documents representative of an era, intended for future generations.

It was found under the plinth of the imposing equestrian statue of General Robert Lee, leader of the Confederate army who notably defended slavery during the Civil War (1861-1865), inaugurated in 1890 in Richmond, the former secessionist capital located in Virginia. Seen as a symbol of the country’s slavery past by many Americans, the statue was debunked in September, against a backdrop of questioning of Confederate monuments.

Once the statue was taken down, experts began a search in its plinth for a mysterious time capsule placed there in 1887, which was believed to contain Civil War relics, such as buttons or bullets, Confederate currency, a Bible. But above all a photo showing President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin, a cliché presented as a historical bomb, likely to panic the collector’s market.

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A first capsule discovered last week

A first box had been exhumed and then carefully opened, but it contained only three books and a cloth envelope with a photograph, all damaged by water, as well as a coin of unknown origin. This capsule seems to have been placed in the base by workers who participated in the erection of the statue. One of the works was a guide for astronomers and navigators dating from 1875. But another seemed to have been published in 1889, two years after the supposed burial of the capsule, suggesting that another receptacle of this type could be under the plinth.

General Lee’s statue in Richmond had become the target of anti-racist protests after the May 2020 death of George Floyd, an African-American suffocated below the knee of a white policeman in Minneapolis, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. During the Civil War, the Confederate South fought for the maintenance of slavery, which was abolished during the conflict in the rest of the country.

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