The time capsule buried for 134 years under the statue of Confederate General Robert Lee in Virginia unveiled its mysteries, Tuesday, December 28, in Richmond: inside, in particular, a drawing of a kneeling woman meditating in front of Abraham’s coffin Lincoln, a Bible, the fragment of a bomb dating from the Civil War (1861-1865) or even Masonic symbols.

> Watch the opening of the time capsule:

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Observers were hoping to find a photo of Abraham Lincoln that was touted as historic and that might have thrown the collector’s market into a panic, but it was not among the items.

The technicians of the Department of Historical Resources of the State of Virginia notably extracted from the box, under the watch of the cameras, Minié bullets (Civil War ammunition), banknotes and coins issued by the government. Confederate, newspapers and magazines, an almanac dating from 1887 and documents from Masonic lodges in the area.

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Two small wood carvings – the Masonic symbols of the set square and compass and a Confederate flag – were in an envelope. Experts say they were cut from the tree that grew near the grave of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, a Confederate general.

A bookmark with the drawn profile of General Lee was placed in one of the books. The box also contained a fragment of a bomb used in the Battle of Fredericksburg, won by the Southerners in 1862.

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About sixty objects

The most striking document remains a drawing of a kneeling woman meditating in front of the coffin of Abraham Lincoln, assassinated on April 14, 1865. It had been published as a central double page in the magazine “Harper’s Weekly” two weeks later.

The three-inch-square copper box buried in 1887 contained some sixty items listed in a Richmond newspaper that year.

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Its content “Is in much better condition than we expected”, said Kate Ridgeway, head of the Department of Historic Resources for the State of Virginia, gently opening the metal box.

Items “Were wetter than we expected, but not as bad as they could have been”, she explained at the end of the intervention, which lasted more than two hours and was broadcast live on television and on social networks.

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Symbol of the slave past

The time capsule was found at the base of the plinth of the imposing equestrian statue of General Robert Lee, head of the Confederate army who notably defended slavery during the Civil War. It was inaugurated in 1890 in Richmond, the former capital of the secessionists.

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Seen as a symbol of the country’s slavery past by many Americans, the statue had become the target of anti-racist protests after the death of African-American George Floyd, killed by a white policeman in May 2020. It was debunked in September. , in a context of questioning of Confederate monuments, and its base has been moved.

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A first box had been recently unearthed from the pedestal, 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.

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