Plaque Reinterpreting the Legacy of Benjamin Morgan Palmer


Legacies Classification
Memorial Object
Memorial Type
Memorial Context
Memorialized Subject
Palmer, Benjamin Morgan
Palmer, Benjamin Morgan
Plaque Reinterpreting the Legacy of Benjamin Morgan Palmer
Background and Context
In 2022 a plaque was unveiled just below the Palmer Memorial Tablet, in an alcove in the southeastern corner of the cloister inside the main entrance of Southwestern Hall (formerly Palmer Hall). The interpretive tablet explained when and why the name of Benjamin Morgan Palmer had been "retired" and Palmer Hall renamed.
Physical Description
Rectangular bronze plaque 30 X 48 inches.
Memorial Inscription
In 1925, the College dedicated this building to the memory of Benjamin Morgan Palmer with funding from the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, where he had been pastor for much of the nineteenth century. Honoring Palmer on this campus was a tribute to his role in reorganizing the College in the post-Civil War era and his service as a member of its board for twenty-six years. Although widely known for his leadership in the Southern Presbyterian Church and for his powerful oratory, Palmer's principal legacy lay elsewhere. He was renowned for preaching a biblical justification of slavery, advocating the secession of the southern states, articulating a theology of racial segregation, and consistently espousing white supremacy until his death in 1902.

A lengthy process of research, reflection and discernment involving alumni, trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students, and members of First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans culminated in the College renaming this building Southwestern Hall in 2019. The new designation acknowledges Palmer's racist legacy, while preserving the "Southwestern" name, under which generations of students graduated between the 1870s and the 1980s.

In 2019, on the occasion of announcing the building's new name, President Marjorie Hass wrote, "with these changes we elaborate, rather than replace, history. We encourage critical, nuanced, contextualized thinking when we look at history and when we look at human beings." The College is grateful to the following individuals for their leadership, research, reflection, and discernment:

Stephen R. Haynes, Professor of Religious Studies
Milton C. Moreland, Vice President of Academic Affairs & Professor of Religious Studies
William E. Troutt, President, 1999-2017
Timothy S. Huebner, Professor of History
Luther D. Ivory, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Russell P. Wigginton '88, Vice President of Student Life and Dean of Students
Dorothy Sanders Wells '82
Thomas Mitchell '18
William M. Short '71
Morgan C. Fowler, Jr. '71, P'18, Chairman, Rhodes Board of Trustees, 2017-
Meg Thomas Crosby
Ryan D. Mire '93
Spence L. Wilson, Chairman, Rhodes Board of Trustees, 2000-2009
Christy Weir Krueger '85
William M. Skoog, Professor of Music
Alicia Golston, Associate Dean of Students
Sarah Eiland '20
Daniel B. Hatzenbuehler '71
Noelle Chaddock, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for Diversity & Inclusion
Meri Armour P'16
William J. Michaelchek '69, Chairman, Rhodes Board of Trustees, 2009-2017
Johnny Moore '88
Stratton H. Bull, Jr. '74
Elizabeth Lemaster Simpson '58
Chris Cardwell '94
Terry W. Hill, Professor of Biology
Esen Kirdis, Associate Professor of International Studies
Maggie Palopoli '20
Toni Eskridge '20
Jeffrey H. Jackson, Professor of History
The First-Year Writing Seminar Students of Professor Jackson, Fall 2019

Date created, installed or dedicated
Location: Institution, City, State

Position: 494 (4 views)