North Charleston's offer to allow a monument to the signers of South Carolina's 1860 Ordinance of Secession at Riverfront Park has been withdrawn.
Instead, Mayor Keith Summey said the memorial should go to the H.L. Hunley lab, or to the North Charleston site where the sub's museum eventually will be built.
A week after offering the S.C. Sons of Confederate Veterans space at Riverfront Park, Summey on Monday squashed the deal, saying it had become too polarizing a subject across the city.
"The Civil War is a part of our history, both good and bad, and I believe that it should be acknowledged, taught and openly discussed," Summey said. "However, some who stand on both sides of this issue have attempted to divide our council and our city along racial lines."
The mayor also said he apologized to any member of City Council who was put in a bad position for the invitation he'd given to the SCV.
Two minority members of council said the change was the right decision.
"I'm pleased with it," said Councilman Mike Brown, who last week said placing the memorial at a Hunley location made more sense than putting it in a public park considered a prime attraction to all the residents of North Charleston. The city is about 49 percent black.
"We don't need to divide," Councilman Sam Hart said.
Last week, Summey said he made the offer after the Patriots Point board declined SCV officials space on their property in Mount Pleasant. The SCV wants the monument to be a memorial to the men who voted to leave the Union, hoping to have it ready in time for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
After Summey announced his original offer, it triggered a wave of phone calls to City Hall, pro and con.
City Council members weren't the only ones receptive to the mayor's change of offered sites. A spokesman with the SCV's monument committee said it was the group's goal to have the monument at Hunley-related site anyway.
"No issues," said spokesman Jeff Antley, who added he still has to talk with monument committee members in the next couple of days before agreeing to a course of action.
As envisioned, the SCV's memorial would stand about 12 feet tall and would be made of blue Georgia granite. It would depict the secession document and two relevant scenes, while listing the names of its 170 signers. The secession convention was held in Columbia and Charleston, Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 1860, eventually leading to the Civil War.
Summey's change of site offering also ends City Council's need to have public hearing on the monument, he said, which was scheduled for May 13.
Michelle Hilton, a North Charleston resident who was opposed to placing the memorial in the park, also said she thought the Hunley idea is the right one since allowing a public hearing would have inflamed the issue even more. "I think he (Summey) knew that and decided to pull back," she said, adding "Let's keep history in the right place."
The Hunley is being restored and is on display in a lab in the southern end of the former Navy base complex. The Hunley museum is slated to be built in the vicinity of the northern end of the base, potentially opening several years from now.
The hand-cranked sub is widely recognized as the world's first successful attack submarine after it sank the Union vessel Housatonic off Charleston in 1864.