Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Dick Dowling Has to Go, But Jeff Davis Might Stay? Really?

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on January 17, 2016

This past week Houston ISD voted to change the names of four schools named after Confederates. The move was not unexpected, but I was a little disappointed to see that the list included R. W. “Dick” Dowling Middle School. Dick Dowling is famous for his successful defense of Sabine Pass in 1863, but entirely apart from that he was an up-and-coming community leader in Houston, a real-life sort of rags-to-riches story of an Irish immigrant. He is generally credited as one of the founders of the Houston Fire Department. Had he not died in 1867, at age forty, I’m certain that he would have gone on to prominent elective office, and his military service during the war would be just one chapter in a long biography.

As I said, not unexpected. But what makes this bizarre to me is that the school board decided to postpone action on the names of Albert Sidney Johnston Middle School, John H. Reagan High School, and Jefferson Davis High School, all three of which are named after Confederates far more prominent than Major Dowling. I understand the desire to re-evaluate the way we view Confederate leaders today, in 2016, but Dowling is far more relevant and creditable to Houston’s early history than Davis, Jackson, or Lee are.

Seriously, if HISD wants to make a public gesture aimed at emphatically underscoring the moral onus of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis is your guy. Removing Dick Dowling’s name while retaining Davis’ is simply inexcusable.

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4 Responses

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  1. Bob Nelson said, on January 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Dowling is an easier target. Rename that school first without much controversy and then move on to the others. Makes perfect sense. This has been discussed on several groups going back more than a year even before the Charleston shooting. Changing the name of Dowling Middle School is just one of the opening pawn moves in this anti-everything-Confederate chess game. I don’t see it ending or even slowing down any time soon. Do you?

  2. Leo said, on January 17, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    I agree with Bob. Going after DowIing is just low hanging fruit to be plucked with little resistance or controversy. It’s basically lazy.

    We have similar behavior here in Mississippi with the state legislature and governor running away from the state flag controversy. It’s looks like they are going to punt on the issue.

  3. David Corbett said, on January 18, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Not quite as enjoyable when they attack your favorite eh?

    • Andy Hall said, on January 18, 2016 at 8:45 am

      It’s not an issue of Dowling being a “favorite” of mine, but that the approach of HISD makes no sense at all. The district is well within their rights to make the change if they want to, but there should at least be some coherence behind it.


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