R0bert E. Lee was an honorable man… White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was not wrong making this observation. Unfortunately, Lee’s honor too often guided him down the wrong paths in life. It was this misguided sense of honor that led him to fight for one of the worst causes in history. Once the conflict was over, Lee behaved admirably in helping the Confederate forces put down their weapons and reenter Union society.
Traitor? Noble Warrior?
Lee advised his former countrymen-
“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”
As the President of Washington College, Lee often dismissed white students who carried out violence against black residents… and did not tolerate “Lost Cause” propaganda at the school. A professor who regularly criticized US Grant received one of the famous, pointed Lee rebukes:
“Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.”
Lee descendants grapple with family legacy… the complex issue of monument removal haunts family
Wreckage of USS Indianapolis discovered… ship sank by Japanese submarine 72 years ago
Will Trump resign the Presidency?.… many before him have considered it
Fruitcake found in Antarctica “practically edible”… was abandoned over 100 years ago by explorer
Civil War Trust acquires 391 acres of battlefields in Virginia... purchase halts significant threat to 3 battlefields
“Every human being must be viewed according to what it is good for. For not one of us, no, not one, is perfect. And were we to love none who had imperfection, this world would be a desert for our love.”
― Thomas Jefferson
Kyle Sammin correctly surmises in the current edition of The Federalist… that historical figures are imperfect- the millennial demands of removing every monument and memorial to historical figures who do not satisfy their modern sensibilities is both foolish and destructive. Though many of his comments following the Charlottesville violence were divisive and insensitive, Trump’s fear that removing monuments to Confederate generals may lead to the destruction of memorials to our Founders were not far from reality. Trump’s implication(inadvertent) is that there is a slippery slope with historical revisionism– Click on links
These links are the steady progression of arbitrary historical revision… being driven by a generation of social justice warriors completely lacking any semblance of humility. So-called activists who are convinced they are not only morally superior to their grandparents, but to all previous generations. This is hubris at its most blatant and dangerous. Politicians, like Nancy Pelosi pander to these intellectual pipsqueaks by joining in this fool’s chorus- moral redemption through historic erasure.
As previously stated in the pages of this blog… there are more appropriate places for Confederate symbols and monuments than government buildings and public squares. This is a reasonable debate and it should continue. The slippery slope of historical revisionism is real and we are well on the way down it. Sadly, legitimate leadership is required during such a crisis of conscience. We have Donald Trump…..
Confederates in the attic
Robert Edward Lee January 19,1807-October 12, 1870
- Renounces citizenship April 20, 1861
- Granted amnesty by President Andrew Johnson- October 2, 1865
- Granted full pardon by Johnson- December 25, 1868
- Citizenship restored by Act of Congress- August 5, 1975
“The greatest mistake of my life was taking a military education.”
“A figure lost to flesh and blood and bones, Frozen into a legend out of life, A blank-verse statue —… For here was someone who lived all his life In the most fierce and open light of the sun And kept his heart a secret to the end From all the picklocks of biographers.” Stephen Vincent Benét
The Marble Model
Trump continues to show an astounding ignorance of American history… with his insinuation that the removal of Lee’s statue in Charlottesville will lead to the removal of monuments to Jefferson and Washington.
Renown Jefferson critic Annette Gordon-Reed summarized the possibility:
“I understand why some people think his statues should be removed, but not all controversial figures of the past are created equal, I think Jefferson’s contributions to the history of the United States outweigh the problems people have with aspects of his life. He is just too much a part of the American story … to pretend that he was not there. There is every difference in the world between being one of the founders of the United States and being a part of group of people who fought to destroy the United States.”
For too long defenders of Confederate heritage… have associated it with freedom and individual rights for all whites. The specter of the conquering Yankee invading the homeland to oppress the yeoman and steal his acre was the rallying cry. Policy makers in the Confederacy used this propaganda to dupe poor whites to defend the landed gentry- a social order built on the aristocracy of chattel slavery. Jefferson Davis and ilk had no interest in expanding opportunity for the thousands of men who volunteered for this abhorrent cause- they were cannon fodder.
Talk of opportunity and liberty were contrary to the Confederate cause… the slave owning power structure needed poor whites to stay right where they were. The egalitarian dreams of Thomas Jefferson had no place in the CSA- and the leadership expressed it openly- The Declaration of Independence was a threat to the south. Far from a “second American Revolution,” the American Civil War was an authoritarian power grab by an entrenched group of oligarchs.
Confederate propaganda from Georgia said it best…
“Thanks to Mr. Jefferson we have made a mistake … and pushed the love of democracy too far … vulgar democracy and licentious freedom is rapidly supplanting all the principles of constitutional ‘liberty’! When shall the American people perceive that all our difficulties arise from the absurdities of deciding that the ‘pauper’ and the ‘landholder’ are alike competent to manage the affairs of a Country, or alike entitled to vote for those who shall?” Athens Southern Watchman 1857
Jefferson’s feelings on slavery and liberty also alienated our apostle of liberty… from these slave owning aristocrats…
“The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it …The man must be a prodigy who can retain his manners and moral undepraved by such circumstances [under slavery]. And with what desecration should the statement be loaded, who permitting one half of the citizens to trample on the rights of the other, transforms those into despots and these into enemies, destroys the morals of one part and the amor patriae of the other.” Notes on the State of Virginia 1782