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Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee

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Robert Edward Lee was born at Stratford in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His father was Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, famed Revolutionary War hero and governor of Virginia. He left the rearing of his son to others.Lee did not have sufficient funds to attend a traditional college, so he enrolled at West Point. His initial service was in the Engineering Corps.In 1831, Lee married Mary Anne Randolph Custis, a wealthy plantation owner and the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington.Lee served in the Mexican War (1846-48) and was wounded in the storming of Chapultepec. He won high praise from General Winfield Scott. Military Academy.Lee gained national attention in 1859 when, at home on leave, he was summoned to lead marines against John Brown at Harper`s Ferry.At the outbreak of the Civil War, Lee faced a difficult decision. Refusing to participate in an invasion of the seceded states, he declined to accept a military command offered by Abraham Lincoln.When Virginia seceded, Lee resigned from the northern army. Initial Confederate appointments confined Lee to inspecting coastal defenses and advising Jefferson Davis. In March 1862, however, Lee was recalled to Virginia to check George McClellan’s move toward Richmond. Three months later, Lee replaced the wounded Joseph E. Johnston as the head of the Army of Northern Virginia—a position he would hold for three years.Lee experienced early success at the Seven Days` Battles (June-July 1862), the first major Confederate success since First Bull Run, and at Second Bull Run (August). His fortunes were reversed at the Battle of Antietam (September), but turned again at Fredericksburg (December) and Chancellorsville (May 1863), where Lee’s “right arm,” Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was mortally wounded.In June and July 1863, Lee attempted his second invasion of the North, a move which ended in defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. Some have argued that Lee performed ably, but was thwarted by the failings of James Longstreet. Lee’s offer to resign, however, was not accepted by Jefferson Davis.In May 1864 U.S. Grant was given command of all of the Union forces and began a protracted campaign that pitted his soldiers against Lee’s. Lee slowed the Union push toward Richmond during the Wilderness Campaign (May-June 1864), but Grant then shifted the bulk of his army to Petersburg where Lee’s intricate fortifications helped the city hold out for 9 months.Both Petersburg and Richmond fell to Union forces and Lee hurried westward in a hopeless effort to link up with the remnants of another Confederate army. He failed to do so and surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865.In his post-war years, Lee supported his family by serving as the president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee) in Lexington, Virginia. Lee applied for amnesty, but was denied by Andrew Johnson. His citizenship was restored by an act of Congress in 1975.Robert E. Several recent historians have been critical of Lee, however, for his lack of an overall strategy for the war and for his inability to influence his subordinates.

Robert E. Lee

Born to Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee in Stratford Hall, Virginia, Robert Edward Lee seemed destined for military greatness. Despite financial hardship that caused his father to depart to the West Indies, young Robert secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated second in the class of 1829. Two years later, he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, a descendant of George Washington's adopted son, John Parke Custis. Yet with all his military pedigree, Lee had not set foot on a battlefield. Instead, he served seventeen years as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, supervising and inspecting the construction of the nation's coastal defenses. Service during the 1846 war with Mexico, however, changed that. As a member of General Winfield Scott's staff, Lee distinguished himself, earning three brevets for gallantry, and emerging from the conflict with the rank of colonel.

From 1852 to 1855, Lee served as superintendent of West Point, and was therefore responsible for educating many of the men who would later serve under him - and those who would oppose him - on the battlefields of the Civil War. In 1855 he left the academy to take a position in the cavalry and in 1859 was called upon to put down abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.

Because of his reputation as one of the finest officers in the United States Army, Abraham Lincoln offered Lee the command of the Federal forces in April 1861. Lee declined and tendered his resignation from the army when the state of Virginia seceded on April 17, arguing that he could not fight against his own people. Instead, he accepted a general’s commission in the newly formed Confederate Army. His first military engagement of the Civil War occurred at Cheat Mountain, Virginia (now West Virginia) on September 11, 1861. It was a Union victory but Lee’s reputation withstood the public criticism that followed. He served as military advisor to President Jefferson Davis until June 1862 when he was given command of the wounded General Joseph E. Johnston's embattled army on the Virginia peninsula.

Lee renamed his command the Army of Northern Virginia, and under his direction it would become the most famous and successful of the Confederate armies. This same organization also boasted some of the Confederacy's most inspiring military figures, including James Longstreet, Stonewall Jackson and the flamboyant cavalier J.E.B. Stuart. With these trusted subordinates, Lee commanded troops that continually manhandled their blue-clad adversaries and embarrassed their generals no matter what the odds.

Yet despite foiling several attempts to seize the Confederate capital, Lee recognized that the key to ultimate success was a victory on Northern soil. In September 1862, he launched an invasion into Maryland with the hope of shifting the war's focus away from Virginia. But when a misplaced dispatch outlining the invasion plan was discovered by Union commander George McClellan the element of surprise was lost, and the two armies faced off at the battle of Antietam. Though his plans were no longer a secret, Lee nevertheless managed to fight McClellan to a stalemate on September 17, 1862. Following the bloodiest one-day battle of the war, heavy casualties compelled Lee to withdraw under the cover of darkness. The remainder of 1862 was spent on the defensive, parrying Union thrusts at Fredericksburg and, in May of the following year, Chancellorsville.

The masterful victory at Chancellorsville gave Lee great confidence in his army, and the Rebel chief was inspired once again to take the fight to enemy soil. In late June of 1863, he began another invasion of the North, meeting the Union host at the crossroads town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. For three days Lee assailed the Federal army under George G. Meade in what would become the most famous battle of the entire war. Accustomed to seeing the Yankees run in the face of his aggressive troops, Lee attacked strong Union positions on high ground. This time, however, the Federals wouldn't budge. The Confederate war effort reached its high water mark on July 3, 1863 when Lee ordered a massive frontal assault against Meade's center, spear-headed by Virginians under Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett. The attack known as Pickett's charge was a failure and Lee, recognizing that the battle was lost, ordered his army to retreat. Taking full responsibility for the defeat, he wrote Jefferson Davis offering his resignation, which Davis refused to accept.

After the simultaneous Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, Mississippi, Ulysses S. Grant assumed command of the Federal armies. Rather than making Richmond the aim of his campaign, Grant chose to focus the myriad resources at his disposal on destroying Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. In a relentless and bloody campaign, the Federal juggernaut bludgeoned the under-supplied Rebel band. In spite of his ability to make Grant pay in blood for his aggressive tactics, Lee had been forced to yield the initiative to his adversary, and he recognized that the end of the Confederacy was only a matter of time. By the summer of 1864, the Confederates had been forced into waging trench warfare outside of Petersburg. Though President Davis named the Virginian General-in-Chief of all Confederate forces in February 1865, only two months later, on April 9, 1865, Lee was forced to surrender his weary and depleted army to Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the Civil War.

Lee returned home on parole and eventually became the president of Washington College in Virginia (now known as Washington and Lee University). He remained in this position until his death on October 12, 1870 in Lexington, Virginia.

Robert E. Lee dies

General Robert Edward Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, dies at his home in Lexington, Virginia. He was 63 years old.

Lee was born to Henry Lee and Ann Carter Lee at Stratford Hall, Virginia, in 1807. His father served in the American Revolution under George Washington and was later a governor of Virginia. Robert Lee attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated second in his class in 1829. He did not earn a single demerit during his four years at the academy. Afterward,Lee embarked on a military career, eventually fighting in the Mexican War (1846-48) and later serving as the superintendent of West Point.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Lee sided with the Confederacy and spent the first year of the war as an advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. He assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia when Joseph Johnston was wounded in battle in May 1862. Over the next three years, Lee earned a reputation for his brilliant tactics and battlefield leadership. However, his invasions of the North, at Antietam in Maryland and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, ended in defeat.


Richard Lee asserted descent from the Lees of Shropshire and bore a coat of arms which was confirmed in 1660/1 by John Gibbon, Bluemantle Pursuivant of the College of Arms. In 1988, a study by William Thorndal was published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, [1] proving that Richard Lee I was actually the son of John Lee, a clothier, and his wife Jane Hancock that Richard had been born not at Coton Hall in Shropshire, but in Worcester (some distance down the River Severn) and that several of their immediate relatives had been apprenticed as vintners. The question, then, has been 'how did Richard Lee descend from the family with whom he shared a coat of arms?' The book Collections for the Ancestry of Colonel Richard Lee, Virginia Emigrant, by English genealogist Alan Nicholls [2] presented evidence for the English ancestry of Colonel Richard Lee using contemporary documents, transcribing records left by Richard Lee, his family, and their associates. It also looks at the records left by the Shropshire and Worcester Lee families. These data and additional related findings demonstrate that Richard Lee's Marson ancestors, the wealthiest tradesmen and merchants in Worcester, were likely the cause of his grandfather and father's lives in Worcester. A great-uncle, Richard Lee, was probably the man of the same name, called 'Richard Lee, Gent' buried at Coton Hall's Alveley Parish in 1613. [3] [4]

Colonial Virginia Edit

In the U.S., the family began when Richard Lee I emigrated to Virginia and made his fortune in tobacco. His son Richard Lee II married Laetitia Corbin, daughter of The Hon. Henry Corbin (colonist) of Rappahannock County, was a member of the House of Burgesses and later King's Council. His son, Richard Lee III, was a cotton broker in London for the family and leased to his brothers Thomas and Henry the plantation he inherited from his father, "Machodoc," for "an annual rent of one peppercorn only, payable on Christmas Day". The Lees first gained wider significance with the aforementioned Thomas Lee (1690–1750). He became a member of the House of Burgesses and later went on to found the Ohio Company, and was the co-executor of his uncle, John Tayloe I's, estate, what became Mount Airy.

Revolutionary War era Edit

Thomas Lee [5] (1690–1750) married Hannah Harrison Ludwell: [6] their children, like the descendants of Thomas Lee's brother Henry Lee I (1691–1747), included a number of prominent Revolutionary War and pre-Revolution political figures.

Thomas and Hannah Lee's two eldest children were Philip Ludwell Lee (1726–1775) and Hannah Lee (1728–1782).

Thomas Ludwell Lee (1730–1778) was a member of the Virginia Delegates and a major editor of George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), a precursor to the United States Declaration of Independence, which was signed by his brothers Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794) and Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734–1797).

Richard Henry Lee was a delegate to Continental Congress from Virginia and president of that body, 1774, later serving as president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and United States Senator from Virginia (1789–1792) under the new United States Constitution.

Younger siblings included Alice Lee (1736–1818), who married American Chief Physician William Shippen, Jr. [7] and diplomats William Lee (b. 1739, d. 1795) and Arthur Lee (b. 1740, d. 1792).

Henry Lee's grandson, Henry Lee III (1756–1818), known as "Light Horse Harry," was a Princeton graduate who served with great distinction under General George Washington in the American Revolutionary War, and was the only officer below the rank of General to receive the "Gold Medal," awarded for his leadership at the Battle of Paulus Hook in New Jersey, on 19 August 1779. He was Governor of Virginia from 1791–1794. Among his six children was Robert Edward Lee, later the famed Confederate general during the American Civil War.

Henry Lee III's brothers were the noted Richard Bland Lee, a three-term U.S. Congressman from Virginia, and Charles Lee (1758–1815), Attorney General of the United States from 1795–1801.

Thomas Sim Lee, a second cousin of Henry Lee III, was elected Governor of Maryland in 1779 and 1792 and declined a third term in 1798. He played an important part in the birth of Maryland as state and in the birth of the United States of America as a nation. A grandson of Thomas Sim Lee was John Lee Carroll, the 37th Governor of Maryland.

Civil War era Edit

Robert E. Lee (1807–1870), was the son of Henry Lee III, and probably the most famous member of the Lee family. He served as Confederate general in the United States Civil War and later as President of Washington and Lee University, which was named for him and for George Washington. Washington and Lee University houses Lee Chapel, burial site of several members of the Lee family. Stratford Hall, a Lee family estate and birthplace of Robert E. Lee, houses the Lee Family Digital Archive. He was married to Mary Anna Randolph Custis, [8] who was a granddaughter of Martha Washington and also was Lee's third cousin once removed through Richard Lee II, fourth cousin through William Randolph, and third cousin through Robert Carter I. R. E. Lee's children were George Washington Custis Lee, Mary Custis Lee, Robert E. Lee Jr., Anne Carter Lee, Mildred Childe Lee, Eleanor Agnes Lee, and William H. Fitzhugh Lee.

Other Lee relations who were General Officers during the Civil War were Fitzhugh Lee (C.S.A.), Samuel Phillips Lee (U.S. Navy) Richard Lucian Page (Confederate States and Navy) Edwin Gray Lee (C.S.A.) and Richard L. T. Beale (C.S.A.). Indirect relations of R.E.Lee who were Confederate general officers included William N. Pendleton and Virginia Military Institute graduate William H. F. Payne. [9] Two other civil war generals who were related to Lee were George B. Crittenden (C.S.A.) and Thomas Leonidas Crittenden (U.S.) their sister was the author Ann Mary Butler Crittenden Coleman and their mother was Sarah O. Lee a great-great-granddaughter of Richard Lee I "the Founder". A son of Thomas L. Crittenden, John Jordan Crittenden III, died at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Another distant Lee relation was U.S. Admiral Willis A. Lee of Kentucky.

"Bedford", the Jefferson County home of his cousin Edmund J. Lee Jr. (1797–1877), son of Edmund Jennings Lee I, was burned in July 1864, along with others of Confederate sympathizers in what became the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. [10]

Later generations Edit

Francis Preston Blair Lee (1857–1944) was a Democratic member of the United States Senate, representing the State of Maryland from 1914–1917. He was also the great-grandson of American patriot Richard Henry Lee, father of E. Brooke Lee comptroller of Maryland and "Father of Silver Spring" and grandfather of Blair Lee III, Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1971–1979 and Acting Governor of Maryland from 1977–1979. [11]

Judge Charles Carter Lee, a direct descendant of Henry Lee III (Lighthorse Harry), was selected to represent the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games as the United States Olympic Committee's Chef de Mission. Judge Lee, a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge since 1989, was also involved with the 1984 Summer Olympics as he headed a delegation sent to China after the Soviet Union announced a plan to boycott the Olympics in Los Angeles. These talks concluded with China's formal agreement in writing to participate in the 1984 Olympics. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis's mother was born Janet Lee and claimed to be part of the family. It was later proven that she was not. [ citation needed ]

Below is a list of notable male members of the Lee family, beginning with Virginia Governor Thomas Lee and Henry Lee: [ original research? ]

What America Keeps Forgetting About Robert E. Lee

John Reeves is the author of the forthcoming book The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: the Forgotten Case Against an American Icon (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018).

He was accused of treason. Only the hunger for reconciliation saved him.

Seven weeks after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House, Judge John C. Underwood demanded justice, while providing instructions to a federal grand jury in Norfolk, Virginia. He defined treason as “wholesale murder” that “embraces in its sweep all the crimes of the Decalogue.” This horrific act, Underwood declared, had murdered tens of thousands of young Americans during the recent war, “by the slaughter on the battlefields, and by starvation in the most loathsome dungeons.” He was outraged that the men most responsible for the rebellion – “with hands dripping with the blood of our slaughtered innocents and martyred President” – were yet still at large.

Underwood urged the grand jurors to send a message to their countrymen that future rebellions would not be tolerated, stating, “It is for you to teach them that those who sow the wind must reap the whirlwind that clemency and mercy to them would be cruelty and murder to the innocent and unborn.” He then concluded his remarks by advising that Robert E. Lee would not be protected from prosecution by his agreement with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

On June 7, 1865, Underwood’s grand jury indicted Robert E. Lee for treason, charging him with “wickedly, maliciously, and traitorously” carrying on war against the Constitution and the “peace and dignity” of the United States of America. Lee faced death by hanging, if found guilty of the charges.

Americans today might not know about Lee’s indictment by the Norfolk grand jury. The actual indictment went missing for 72 years and many scholars remain unaware that it has been found. All told, 39 Confederate leaders would be indicted for treason by Underwood’s court.

Our amnesia about this episode becomes evident periodically. Shortly after a rally held by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said in an interview that Robert E. Lee “gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today.”

It wasn’t different back then. Confederate leaders, who placed their allegiance to their states above the federal authority, were charged with treason by the United States government. In the antiquated language of his indictment, Lee was accused of “not having the fear of God before his eyes, nor weighing the duty of his said allegiance, but being moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil … to subvert, and to stir, move and incite insurrection, rebellion and war against the said United States of America.” Like his fellow citizens, Kelly appears unaware of this history. Somehow, we seem to have erased this event from our collective memory.

Despite President Andrew Johnson’s commitment to prosecuting the indicted rebels, the charges were eventually dropped in February 1869, after a series of false starts and procedural delays. In the end, the very understandable desire for reconciliation among both northerners and southerners after the war was deemed more important than the obligation to punish those who tried to destroy the Republic. The pervasive idea that the Civil War was just a misunderstanding between “men and women of good faith on both sides,” as General Kelly said in the interview, is a direct result of the decision to drop the treason charges against the Confederate leadership.

Even though Lee may have been an excellent soldier and a fine gentleman, he also violated the U.S. Constitution in order to defend a society built upon chattel slavery. This mustn’t be forgotten. In Trump’s America, we are witnessing the reemergence of white nationalism along with almost daily challenges to constitutional norms. In light of these alarming trends, Americans will benefit from revisiting the legal case against Robert E. Lee after the Civil War.

Initially, Lee had reason to be hopeful. General Grant intended that the Confederate soldiers would not face treason trials and severe punishments. His agreement with Lee at Appomattox concluded, “each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by the United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.” That last line has been described by the historian Bruce Catton as one of the greatest sentences in American history.

Grant maintained that Lee “would not have surrendered his army, and given up all their arms, if he had supposed that after the surrender he was going to be tried for treason and hanged.” There was another consideration as well. After having waged a brutal total war against the South, Grant wrote his wife in late April 1865 that he was “anxious to see peace restored, so that further devastation need not take place in the country.”He felt the suffering of the South in the future would “be beyond conception” and observed, “People who talk of further retaliation and punishment, except of the political leaders, either do not conceive of the suffering endured already or they are heartless and unfeeling and wish to stay at home out of danger while the punishment is being inflicted.”

Andrew Johnson, who became president after the death of Lincoln just six days after Appomattox, saw things much differently. A southerner from Tennessee, who remained loyal to the Union, Johnson was well-known for his uncompromising stance on treason. After the fall of Richmond in early April 1865, he had declared, “treason is the highest crime known in the catalogue of crimes” and “treason must be made odious and traitors must be punished.” For Johnson, death would be “too easy a punishment” for the traitors. In one of his greatest speeches, delivered in the Senate in December 1860, he said South Carolina had put itself “in an attitude of levying war against the United States.” He added, “it is treason, nothing but treason.” A few months later, Johnson declared on the Senate floor that if he were president and was faced with traitors, he would “have them arrested and if convicted, within the meaning and scope of the Constitution, by Eternal God,” he’d have them executed.

Johnson’s desire for retribution represented a stark contrast with the seemingly lenient, benevolent attitude of Abraham Lincoln. On the morning of April 10, the day after the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Johnson had hurried over to the White House so he could protest directly with the president against the indulgent terms given to Lee by Grant. Johnson believed Grant should have held Lee in prison until the administration figured out what to do with him. During the late afternoon on April 14, just hours before the attack at Ford’s Theatre, Johnson had met privately with the president, telling Lincoln he was going too easy on the rebels. Johnson noted that he’d be much, much tougher on traitors if he were president.

Upon becoming president, Johnson received widespread support for his plan to prosecute the leading rebels. Grieving northerners wrote Johnson letters saying that the assassination of Lincoln was somehow a natural result of treason against the Union. One citizen described John Wilkes Booth as having graduated from the “university of treason” that had Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee as teachers. Across the North, there was an outflow of anger over the assassination and Andrew Johnson heard the growing drumbeat for bringing Lee, Davis, and the other Confederate leaders to justice.

Before Johnson could prosecute Lee, he needed to make sure that Grant’s agreement with Lee didn’t prohibit civil charges from being filed after the war was concluded. Johnson sought advice on this subject from General Benjamin Butler, a prominent attorney from Massachusetts who had also served in the field for much of the war. After surveying the historical record, Butler argued that a parole was merely a military arrangement that allowed a prisoner “the privilege of partial liberty, instead of close confinement.” It did not in any way lessen the possibility of being tried for crimes resulting from wartime activities.

Having reviewed Lee’s agreement with Grant, Butler asserted: “Their surrender was a purely military convention and referred to military terms only. It could not and did not alter in any way or in any degree the civil rights or criminal liabilities of the captives either in persons or property as a treaty of peace might have done.” Butler then concluded “that there is no objection arising out of their surrender as prisoners of war to the trial of Lee and his officers for any offenses against municipal laws.” This finding paved the way for the Johnson administration’s decision to pursue charges against Lee in Judge Underwood’s courtroom in June 1865.

Grant fiercely objected to the decision to indict Lee and the other Confederate leaders. In a letter on Lee’s behalf to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Grant wrote:

In my opinion the officers and men paroled at Appomattox C.H. and since upon the same terms given to Lee, can not be tried for treason so long as they observe the terms of their parole…. I will state further that the terms granted by me met with the hearty approval of the President at the time, and of the country generally. The action of Judge Underwood in Norfolk has already had an injurious effect, and I would ask that he be ordered to quash all indictments found against paroled prisoners of war, and to desist from further prosecution of them.

Despite Grant’s sincerity, his beliefs about the paroles were almost certainly incorrect. It’s difficult to imagine that an agreement hammered out between two generals on a battlefield could protect thousands of men from treason charges or possible war crimes.

Unsurprisingly, Johnson differed with Grant and told him so. What happened between them remains a mystery. Between June 16 and June 20, 1865, Grant and Johnson met once or twice to discuss the indictment of Lee by the Norfolk grand jury. The two disagreed vehemently on how to handle Lee in the future. Johnson wanted to prosecute him, while Grant believed the paroles protected him from punishment for his wartime actions. Grant may have even threatened to resign his commission if Lee was arrested and prosecuted. Finally, on June 20, 1865, Attorney General James Speed wrote Norfolk District Attorney Lucius Chandler, regarding the recently indicted Confederate leaders: “I am instructed by the President to direct you not to have warrants of arrest taken out against them or any of them til further orders.”

Many writers have repeated Grant’s belief that this resulted in a “quashing” of the charges against Lee. This view is mistaken. In his letter to Chandler, Speed instructed him not to arrest them “til further orders.” Johnson and Speed were willing to concede that the paroles protected the Confederate officers as long as the war continued. The war wouldn’t officially end until the rebellion was finally put down in Texas in August 1866. Toward the end of 1865, Johnson and his cabinet decided to prosecute Jefferson Davis first instead. It made sense to begin treason trials with the former Confederate President, who was often referred to as an “arch traitor” by the northern press. Davis was being held at Fortress Monroe in Virginia and was mistakenly believed by many Americans to have been connected to the conspirators in the Lincoln assassination. If the government couldn’t win a case against Davis, then future treason trials against the rest of the Confederate leadership would be untenable, to say the least. It’s likely Lee would have been tried next, after a successful prosecution of Davis.

By early 1866, the Johnson administration had made several decisions that would have a major impact on possible cases against the former rebels. First, it had decided that treason trials must be held before a civil court rather than a military tribunal and any jury trials would be held where the crimes were committed. In the cases of Davis and Lee, the appropriate venue would be in the state of Virginia. Johnson’s cabinet also agreed that Chief Justice Salmon Chase must preside over treason trials, along with Judge John C. Underwood, in the Circuit Court serving Virginia in Richmond. Everyone believed the Chief Justice would provide legitimacy to any guilty verdicts that might be found. Plus, the abolitionist Judge Underwood was viewed as too partisan to handle the cases on his own.

The insistence that Chase preside over the Davis trial resulted in endless delays. The Chief Justice wouldn’t appear in the Circuit Court until the war officially declared over in August 1866. Once he was ready in March 1867, then it was the government’s prosecution team that needed more time. After being pushed until the spring of 1868, the trial was delayed again while Chase presided over the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson. There seemed to be no end to the comedy of errors.

The postponements may have spared the Johnson administration a humiliating “not guilty” verdict in the Davis case. The decision to try treason cases in Virginia made it highly likely that one or more jurors would vote for acquittal. In 1866, Judge Underwood had told the Joint Committee on Reconstruction that the only way Davis or Lee could be convicted of treason would be with a “packed jury.” When questioned about whether he could pack a jury to convict Davis, Underwood answered, “I think it would be very difficult, but it could be done I could pack a jury to convict him I know very earnest, ardent Union men in Virginia.” Underwood eventually assembled the first mixed-race jury in Virginia history for the Davis trial, but the prosecution team was still wary. And Andrew Johnson’s racism made him extremely uncomfortable that a jury that included African Americans might decide such an important case.

Ultimately, it seemed more and more likely that the government might lose in the Davis case and Johnson, who became a lame duck in November 1868, decided to drop all of the charges against Davis, Lee, and the other 37 Confederate leaders in February 1869, just one month before the inauguration of the new president, Ulysses S. Grant. Despite Andrew Johnson’s best efforts, it’s undeniable he failed to make treason odious. There would be no convictions and punishments for the crime of treason committed during the Civil War. When Johnson left office, John Brown had been the only American in United States history executed for treason.

Johnson blamed Chase for the failure, citing the delays of 1865 and 1866. He also faulted Congress for impeaching him. If Johnson had been fair, he too, would have had to accept some of the blame. His administration’s decision to try treason cases where the crimes were actually committed assumed that impartial juries could be found in these places. This was wishful thinking. Only military commissions or northern juries were likely to convict Davis, Lee, and the other Confederate leaders of treason.

In the end, his administration offered amnesty to all participants in the rebellion, while insisting treason had in fact been committed by the Confederate leadership. Perhaps treason had not been made odious, yet it’s also true America has never had a widespread rebellion since. The 14th Amendment made it clear that citizens now owed their primary allegiance to the federal government, not the individual states.

Years after Lee’s death, John William Jones – a chaplain at Washington College – wrote, “this noble man died ‘a prisoner of war on parole’ – his application for ‘amnesty’ was never granted, or even noticed – and the commonest privileges of citizenship, which are accorded to the most ignorant negro were denied this king of men.” Jones is not quite right in his assessment. The true story of Lee’s punishment for his role in the war is far more nuanced than Jones indicated.

The toughest penalty against Lee was the government’s decision in January 1864 to acquire his family estate at Arlington due to unpaid taxes. This was a huge loss for Lee personally and his family would not be compensated for it during his lifetime. The Arlington estate, now the site of Arlington National Cemetery, remains federal property to this day.

Lee suffered yet another penalty by the government for his role in the war, as a result of the ratification of the 14th Amendment in July 1868. According to Section 3: “No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States … shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

In addition to being prevented from holding public office, Lee was initially prohibited from voting in his beloved Virginia after the war. Lee’s voting rights, along with other former rebels, were restored in July 1869, however. At the time of his death, Lee would have been eligible to vote in Virginia.

On Christmas Day, 1868, Johnson provided a general amnesty and pardon to everyone who participated in the rebellion, including Lee. For political reasons, Johnson never intended to reply individually to Lee’s pardon application of 1865. Johnson had decided to not personally pardon either Lee or Jefferson Davis. The latter, a bitter foe of Johnson, would never ask for one.

When we step back and look at the U.S. government’s treatment of Lee, we see that he did suffer substantial economic and political penalties for his role in commanding the armies of the Confederate States of America. Most of them, but not all, had been removed by the time of his death. When you factor in the loss of Arlington, it’s fair to say that Lee paid dearly for his decision to side with the South. Northerners and southerners nevertheless tended to view Lee’s treatment differently. Many northerners felt Lee had been lucky to escape the hangman’s noose, and should have been somewhat more conciliatory toward the government as a result. The vast majority of southerners, on the other hand, believed their hero had been treated harshly by the authorities. It made it difficult for them to restore their allegiance to a government that would act in such a way.

Today, we no longer remember the seriousness of the treason charges that were made against Lee in 1865. By forgetting, it’s been easier to remember Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man,” as John Kelly recently described him. The renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass warned future generations of Americans about the danger of forgetting this history in a speech titled “Address at the Graves of the Unknown Dead” on Decoration Day, May 30, 1871. Delivered at Arlington National Cemetery, the former location of Lee’s family estate, Douglass wondered, “I say, if this war is to be forgotten, I ask, in the name of all things sacred, what shall men remember?” He urged his audience to never forget that “victory to the rebellion meant death to the Republic.”

Robert E. Lee Wasn't a Hero, He Was a Traitor

Michael McLean is a PhD candidate in history at Boston College.

There&rsquos a fabled moment from the Battle of Fredericksburg, a gruesome Civil War battle that extinguished several thousand lives, when the commander of a rebel army looked down upon the carnage and said, &ldquoIt is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.&rdquo That commander, of course, was Robert Lee.

The moment is the stuff of legend. It captures Lee&rsquos humility (he won the battle), compassion, and thoughtfulness. It casts Lee as a reluctant leader who had no choice but to serve his people, and who might have had second thoughts about doing so given the conflict&rsquos tremendous amount of violence and bloodshed. The quote, however, is misleading. Lee was no hero. He was neither noble nor wise. Lee was a traitor who killed United States soldiers, fought for human enslavement, vastly increased the bloodshed of the Civil War, and made embarrassing tactical mistakes.

1) Lee was a traitor

Robert Lee was the nation&rsquos most notable traitor since Benedict Arnold. Like Arnold, Robert Lee had an exceptional record of military service before his downfall. Lee was a hero of the Mexican-American War and played a crucial role in its final, decisive campaign to take Mexico City. But when he was called on to serve again&mdashthis time against violent rebels who were occupying and attacking federal forts&mdashLee failed to honor his oath to defend the Constitution. He resigned from the United States Army and quickly accepted a commission in a rebel army based in Virginia. Lee could have chosen to abstain from the conflict&mdashit was reasonable to have qualms about leading United States soldiers against American citizens&mdashbut he did not abstain. He turned against his nation and took up arms against it. How could Lee, a lifelong soldier of the United States, so quickly betray it?

2) Lee fought for slavery

Robert Lee understood as well as any other contemporary the issue that ignited the secession crisis. Wealthy white plantation owners in the South had spent the better part of a century slowly taking over the United States government. With each new political victory, they expanded human enslavement further and further until the oligarchs of the Cotton South were the wealthiest single group of people on the planet. It was a kind of power and wealth they were willing to kill and die to protect.

According to Northwest Ordinance of 1787, new lands and territories in the West were supposed to be free while largescale human enslavement remained in the South. In 1820, however, Southerners amended that rule by dividing new lands between a free North and slave South. In the 1830s, Southerners used their inflated representation in Congress to pass the Indian Removal Act, an obvious and ultimately successful effort to take fertile Indian land and transform it into productive slave plantations. The Compromise of 1850 forced Northern states to enforce fugitive slave laws, a blatant assault on the rights of Northern states to legislate against human enslavement. In 1854, Southerners moved the goal posts again and decided that residents in new states and territories could decide the slave question for themselves. Violent clashes between pro- and anti-slavery forces soon followed in Kansas.

The South&rsquos plans to expand slavery reached a crescendo in 1857 with the Dred Scott Decision. In the decision, the Supreme Court ruled that since the Constitution protected property and enslaved humans were considered property, territories could not make laws against slavery.

The details are less important than the overall trend: in the seventy years after the Constitution was written, a small group of Southerner oligarchs took over the government and transformed the United States into a pro-slavery nation. As one young politician put it, &ldquoWe shall lie pleasantly dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their State free and we shall awake to the reality, instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State.&rdquo

The ensuing fury over the expansion of slave power in the federal government prompted a historic backlash. Previously divided Americans rallied behind a new political party and the young, brilliant politician quoted above. Abraham Lincoln presented a clear message: should he be elected, the federal government would no longer legislate in favor of enslavement, and would work to stop its expansion into the West.

Lincoln&rsquos election in 1860 was not simply a single political loss for slaveholding Southerners. It represented a collapse of their minority political dominance of the federal government, without which they could not maintain and expand slavery to full extent of their desires. Foiled by democracy, Southern oligarchs disavowed it and declared independence from the United States.

Their rebel organization&mdashthe &ldquoConfederate States of America,&rdquo a cheap imitation of the United States government stripped of its language of equality, freedom, and justice&mdashdid not care much for states&rsquo rights. States in the Confederacy forfeited both the right to secede from it and the right to limit or eliminate slavery. What really motivated the new CSA was not only obvious, but repeatedly declared. In their articles of secession, which explained their motivations for violent insurrection, rebel leaders in the South cited slavery. Georgia cited slavery. Mississippi cited slavery. South Carolina cited the &ldquoincreasing hostility&hellip to the institution of slavery.&rdquo Texas cited slavery. Virginia cited the &ldquooppression of&hellip Southern slaveholding.&rdquo Alexander Stephens, the second in command of the rebel cabal, declared in his Cornerstone Speech that they had launched the entire enterprise because the Founding Fathers had made a mistake in declaring that all people are made equal. &ldquoOur new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea,&rdquo he said. People of African descent were supposed to be enslaved.

Despite making a few cryptic comments about how he refused to fight his fellow Virginians, Lee would have understood exactly what the war was about and how it served wealthy white men like him. Lee was a slave-holding aristocrat with ties to George Washington. He was the face of Southern gentry, a kind of pseudo royalty in a land that had theoretically extinguished it. The triumph of the South would have meant the triumph not only of Lee, but everything he represented: that tiny, self-defined perfect portion at the top of a violently unequal pyramid.

Yet even if Lee disavowed slavery and fought only for some vague notion of states&rsquo rights, would that have made a difference? War is a political tool that serves a political purpose. If the purpose of the rebellion was to create a powerful, endless slave empire (it was), then do the opinions of its soldiers and commanders really matter? Each victory of Lee&rsquos, each rebel bullet that felled a United States soldier, advanced the political cause of the CSA. Had Lee somehow defeated the United States Army, marched to the capital, killed the President, and won independence for the South, the result would have been the preservation of slavery in North America. There would have been no Thirteenth Amendment. Lincoln would not have overseen the emancipation of four million people, the largest single emancipation event in human history. Lee&rsquos successes were the successes of the Slave South, personal feelings be damned.

If you need more evidence of Lee&rsquos personal feelings on enslavement, however, note that when his rebel forces marched into Pennsylvania, they kidnapped black people and sold them into bondage. Contemporaries referred to these kidnappings as &ldquoslave hunts.&rdquo

3) Lee was not a military genius

Despite a mythology around Lee being the Napoleon of America, Lee blundered his way to a surrender. To be fair to Lee, his early victories were impressive. Lee earned command of the largest rebel army in 1862 and quickly put his experience to work. His interventions at the end of the Peninsula Campaign and his aggressive flanking movements at the Battle of Second Manassas ensured that the United States Army could not achieve a quick victory over rebel forces. At Fredericksburg, Lee also demonstrated a keen understanding of how to establish a strong defensive position, and foiled another US offensive. Lee&rsquos shining moment came later at Chancellorsville, when he again maneuvered his smaller but more mobile force to flank and rout the US Army. Yet Lee&rsquos broader strategy was deeply flawed, and ended with his most infamous blunder.

Lee should have recognized that the objective of his army was not to defeat the larger United States forces that he faced. Rather, he needed to simply prevent those armies from taking Richmond, the city that housed the rebel government, until the United States government lost support for the war and sued for peace. New military technology that greatly favored defenders would have bolstered this strategy. But Lee opted for a different strategy, taking his army and striking northward into areas that the United States government still controlled.

It&rsquos tempting to think that Lee&rsquos strategy was sound and could have delivered a decisive blow, but it&rsquos far more likely that he was starting to believe that his men truly were superior and that his army was essentially unstoppable, as many supporters in the South were openly speculating. Even the Battle of Antietam, an aggressive invasion that ended in a terrible rebel loss, did not dissuade Lee from this thinking. After Chancellorsville, Lee marched his army into Pennsylvania where he ran into the United States Army at the town of Gettysburg. After a few days of fighting into a stalemate, Lee decided against withdrawing as he had done at Antietam. Instead, he doubled down on his aggressive strategy and ordered a direct assault over open terrain straight into the heart of the US Army&rsquos lines. The result&mdashseveral thousand casualties&mdashwas devastating. It was a crushing blow and a terrible military decision from which Lee and his men never fully recovered. The loss also bolstered support for the war effort and Lincoln in the North, almost guaranteeing that the United States would not stop short of a total victory.

4) Lee, not Grant, was responsible for the staggering losses of the Civil War

The Civil War dragged on even after Lee&rsquos horrific loss at Gettysburg. Even after it was clear that the rebels were in trouble, with white women in the South rioting for bread, conscripted men deserting, and thousands of enslaved people self-emancipating, Lee and his men dug in and continued to fight. Only after going back on the defensive&mdashthat is, digging in on hills and building massive networks of trenches and fortifications&mdashdid Lee start to achieve lopsided results again. Civil War enthusiasts often point to the resulting carnage as evidence that Ulysses S. Grant, the new General of the entire United States Army, did not care about the terrible losses and should be criticized for how he threw wave after wave of men at entrenched rebel positions. In reality, however, the situation was completely of Lee&rsquos making.

As Grant doggedly pursued Lee&rsquos forces, he did his best to flush Lee into an open field for a decisive battle, like at Antietam or Gettysburg. Lee refused to accept, however, knowing that a crushing loss likely awaited him. Lee also could have abandoned the area around the rebel capital and allowed the United States to achieve a moral and political victory. Both of these options would have drastically reduced the loss of life on both sides and ended the war earlier. Lee chose neither option. Rather, he maneuvered his forces in such a way that they always had a secure, defensive position, daring Grant to sacrifice more men. When Grant did this and overran the rebel positions, Lee pulled back and repeated the process. The result was the most gruesome period of the war. It was not uncommon for dead bodies to be stacked upon each other after waves of attacks and counterattacks clashed at the same position. At the Wilderness, the forest caught fire, trapping wounded men from both sides in the inferno. Their comrades listened helplessly to the screams as the men in the forest burned alive.

To his credit, when the war was truly lost&mdashthe rebel capital sacked (burned by retreating rebel soldiers), the infrastructure of the South in ruins, and Lee&rsquos army chased one hundred miles into the west&mdashLee chose not to engage in guerrilla warfare and surrendered, though the decision was likely based on image more than a concern for human life. He showed up to Grant&rsquos camp, after all, dressed in a new uniform and riding a white horse. So ended the military career of Robert Lee, a man responsible for the death of more United States soldiers than any single commander in history.

So why, after all of this, do some Americans still celebrate Lee? Well, many white Southerners refused to accept the outcome of the Civil War. After years of terrorism, local political coups, wholesale massacres, and lynchings, white Southerners were able to retake power in the South. While they erected monuments to war criminals like Nathan Bedford Forrest to send a clear message to would-be civil rights activists, white southerners also needed someone who represented the &ldquogreatness&rdquo of the Old South, someone of whom they could be proud. They turned to Robert Lee.

But Lee was not great. In fact, he represented the very worst of the Old South, a man willing to betray his republic and slaughter his countrymen to preserve a violent, unfree society that elevated him and just a handful of others like him. He was the gentle face of a brutal system. And for all his acclaim, Lee was not a military genius. He was a flawed aristocrat who fell in love with the mythology of his own invincibility.

After the war, Robert Lee lived out the remainder of his days. He was neither arrested nor hanged. But it is up to us how we remember him. Memory is often the trial that evil men never received. Perhaps we should take a page from the United States Army of the Civil War, which needed to decide what to do with the slave plantation it seized from the Lee family. Ultimately, the Army decided to use Lee&rsquos land as a cemetery, transforming the land from a site of human enslavement to a final resting place for United States soldiers who died to make men free. You can visit that cemetery today. After all, who hasn&rsquot heard of Arlington Cemetery?

Traveller, sired by notable racehorse Grey Eagle and originally named Jeff Davis, [1] was born to Flora in 1857 near the Blue Sulphur Springs, in Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia) and was first owned and raised by James W. Johnston. An American Saddlebred, he was of Grey Eagle stock [2] as a colt, he took the first prize at the Lewisburg, Virginia fairs in 1859 and 1860. As an adult he was a sturdy horse, 16 hands (64 inches, 163 cm) high and 1,100 pounds (500 kg), iron gray in color with black point coloration, a long mane and a flowing tail. He was next owned by Captain Joseph M. Broun and renamed Greenbrier. [1]

In the spring of 1861, a year before achieving fame as a Confederate general, Robert E. Lee was commanding a small force in western Virginia. The quartermaster of the 3rd Regiment, Wise Legion, [3] [4] Captain Joseph M. Broun, was directed to "purchase a good serviceable horse of the best Greenbrier stock for our use during the war." Broun purchased the horse for $175 (approximately $4,545 in 2008) [5] from Andrew Johnston's son, Captain James W. Johnston, and named him Greenbrier. Major Thomas L. Broun, Joseph's brother recalled that Greenbrier:

. was greatly admired in camp for his rapid, springy walk, his high spirit, bold carriage, and muscular strength. He needed neither whip nor spur, and would walk his five or six miles an hour over the rough mountain roads of Western Virginia with his rider sitting firmly in the saddle and holding him in check by a tight rein, such vim and eagerness did he manifest to go right ahead so soon as he was mounted.

General Lee took a great fancy to the horse. He called him his "colt", and predicted to Broun that he would use it before the war was over. After Lee was transferred to South Carolina, Joseph Broun sold the horse to him for $200 in February 1862. Lee named the horse "Traveller".

Lee described his horse in a letter in response to his wife's cousin, Markie Williams, who wished to paint a portrait of Traveller:

If I was an artist like you, I would draw a true picture of Traveller representing his fine proportions, muscular figure, deep chest, short back, strong haunches, flat legs, small head, broad forehead, delicate ears, quick eye, small feet, and black mane and tail. Such a picture would inspire a poet, whose genius could then depict his worth, and describe his endurance of toil, hunger, thirst, heat and cold and the dangers and suffering through which he has passed. He could dilate upon his sagacity and affection, and his invariable response to every wish of his rider. He might even imagine his thoughts through the long night-marches and days of the battle through which he has passed. But I am no artist Markie, and can therefore only say he is a Confederate gray.

Traveller was a horse of great stamina and was usually a good horse for an officer in battle because he was difficult to frighten. He could sometimes become nervous and spirited, however. At the Second Battle of Bull Run, while General Lee was at the front reconnoitering, dismounted and holding Traveller by the bridle, the horse became frightened at some movement of the enemy and, plunging, pulled Lee down on a stump, breaking both of his hands. Lee went through the remainder of that campaign chiefly in an ambulance. When he rode on horseback, a courier rode in front leading his horse.

After the war, Traveller accompanied Lee to Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. He lost many hairs from his tail to admirers (veterans and college students) who wanted a souvenir of the famous horse and his general. Lee wrote to his daughter Mildred Childe Lee that "the boys are plucking out his tail, and he is presenting the appearance of a plucked chicken." [6]

In 1870, during Lee's funeral procession, Traveller was led behind the caisson bearing the General's casket, his saddle and bridle draped with black crepe. Not long after Lee's death, in 1871, Traveller stepped on a nail and developed tetanus. [7] There was no cure, and he was shot to relieve his suffering.

Traveller was initially buried behind the main buildings of the college, but was unearthed by persons unknown and his bones were bleached for exhibition in Rochester, New York, in 1875/1876. In 1907, Richmond journalist Joseph Bryan paid to have the bones mounted and returned to the college, named Washington and Lee University since Lee's death, and they were displayed in the Brooks Museum, in what is now Robinson Hall. The skeleton was periodically vandalized there by students who carved their initials in it for good luck. In 1929, the bones were moved to the museum in the basement of the Lee Chapel, where they stood for 30 years, deteriorating with exposure.

Finally in 1971, Traveller's remains were buried in a wooden box encased in concrete next to the Lee Chapel on the Washington & Lee campus, a few feet away from the Lee family crypt inside, where his master's body rests. The stable where he lived his last days, directly connected to the Lee House on campus, traditionally stands with its doors left open this is said to allow his spirit to wander freely. The 24th President of Washington & Lee (and thus a recent resident of Lee House), Thomas Burish, caught strong criticism from many members of the Washington & Lee community for closing the stable gates in violation of this tradition. Burish later had the doors to the gates repainted in a dark green color, which he referred to in campus newspapers as "Traveller Green".

The base newspaper of the United States Army's Fort Lee, located in Petersburg, Virginia, is named Traveller.

Although the most famous, Traveller was not Lee's only horse during the war:

  • Lucy Long, a mare, was the primary backup horse to Traveller. She remained with the Lee family after the war, dying considerably after Lee, when she was thirty-four years old. She was a gift from J.E.B. Stuart who purchased her from Adam Stephen Dandridge of The Bower. Notably, she was ridden by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
  • Richmond, a bay colored stallion, was acquired by General Lee in early 1861. He died in 1862 after the Battle of Malvern Hill.
  • Brown-Roan, or The Roan, was purchased by Lee in West Virginia around the time of Traveller's purchase. He went blind in 1862 and had to be retired.
  • Ajax, a sorrel horse, was too large for Lee to ride comfortably and was thus used infrequently.

James Longstreet, one of Lee's most trusted generals, was referred to by Lee as his Old War Horse because of his reliability. After the Civil War, many Southerners were angered by Longstreet's defection to the Republican Party and blamed him for their defeat in the Civil War. However, Lee supported reconciliation and was pleased with how Longstreet had fought in the War. This nickname was Lee's symbol of trust.

Robert E. Lee after the War

After their army surrendered at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865, the defeated Confederates returned to their homes to face an uncertain future. The postwar prospects of Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, were no clearer than those of his men. When he left Appomattox, he began a journey that would take him away from a soldier's life in the field and eventually to Lexington, where his talent for leadership would serve him well as president of a small college.

Lee's military career, which had started at West Point many years before, had ended, and his civilian life began when he returned to Richmond and his family on April 15th. For the next two months Lee lived in a city busily rebuilding itself. That summer, he and his family escaped the chaotic atmosphere of the capital city and took up residence at Derwent, a house owned by Elizabeth Randolph Cocke west of Richmond in Powhatan County. There, Lee enjoyed life in the country and considered buying land and living out his remaining years as a farmer. Whatever happened, he had no desire to leave Virginia. "I cannot desert my native state in the hour of her adversity," he remarked to a friend. "I must abide her fortune, and share her fate."

The solitude did not last long. The trustees of Washington College in Lexington, then looking for a new president, decided that Lee was the perfect choice. He had been superintendent of West Point earlier in his military career, and more importantly, he had a very recognizable name in 1865. The college, mired in financial difficulties, needed a prominent person to help raise funds. At first Lee hesitated, but on the advice of friends and family he eventually accepted the position. He wrote to the trustees that he believed, "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."

A new life in Lexington

Lee arrived in Lexington in mid-September 1865 and went to work immediately. Over the next five years, Washington College grew physically and financially: the faculty increased in size from four to twenty, enrollment grew from fifty to nearly 400 students, and financial contributions poured in from both southern and northern sources. Lee's personal involvement with many of his students reflected his desire to create a new generation of Americans. In response to the bitterness of a Confederate widow, Lee wrote, "Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans."

Lee's tireless devotion to his duty as president of Washington College eventually took its toll on his health. The outward signs of the heart condition that had plagued him since the Civil War grew more apparent, and in the spring of 1870, on the advice of the faculty, he travelled south on vacation. Less than a month into the next school year, on September 28, 1870, he suffered a massive stroke. Two weeks later, on October 12, Robert E. Lee died in his home on the college campus.

Lee's lap desk

In December 2005 the Virginia Historical Society acquired from Lee family descendants the portable lap desk that belonged to Lee while he lived in the president's house at Washington College. The desk is currently on display in the long-term exhibition The Story of Virginia. Among the interesting items in the desk is a "cash" book that includes a record, in Lee's hand, of his salary as president of the college. Although a sword might symbolize Robert E. Lee's distinguished military service, the desk represents the final chapter of his life—a period in which he dedicated himself to educating young men and reuniting the country that he had so recently fought against.

Lee, Robert Edward (1807&ndash1870)

Robert Edward Lee, army officer and commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia during the Civil War, spent several crucial years of his career in Texas. Lee was born on January 19, 1807, at Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia, the son of Gen. Henry and Ann (Carter) Lee. He graduated second in his class at the United States Military Academy in 1829. On June 30, 1831, while stationed at Fort Monroe he married Mary Custis of Arlington, Virginia they became the parents of seven children. Lee was quite devoted to his family, and as often as military duty would permit, he spent much time at home. He had a wide variety of assignments—working in the chief engineer's office, Washington, D.C., 1834–37 supervising construction on the St. Louis harbor, 1837 and serving with his regiment at Fort Hamilton, New York, 1841–46, with Gen. John E. Wool's army from San Antonio to Buena Vista, 1846–47, and with Gen. Winfield Scott's army from Vera Cruz to Mexico City, 1847. As Scott's chief of staff during the Mexican War, Lee won three brevets—major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel—all because of conspicuous gallantry in the field. After the Mexican War Lee directed the building of Fort Carroll, near Baltimore, Maryland. From September 1, 1852, until March 31, 1855, he was superintendent of the United States Military Academy. On March 3, 1855, Congress had authorized two new regiments of infantry and two of cavalry to help protect the 8,000-mile western frontier. Against 11,000 troops were 30,000 Indians in widely dispersed raiding bands. Texas had a frontier of more than 1,200 miles, with only 2,886 United States officers and enlisted men to defend it. Lee was with Albert Sidney Johnston's Second Cavalry regiment in Texas from March 1856 to October 1857 and again from February 1860 to February 1861. Lee took command of the regiment at Louisville, Kentucky, on April 20, 1855, since Johnston was elsewhere at that time, and shortly thereafter moved it to Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, where the recruits were put through intensive training. After several months of court martial duty, Lee left for Texas. Soon after his arrival at San Antonio on March 27, 1856, he was assigned to command the two squadrons of the Second Cavalry at Camp Cooper on the Comanche reservation in present Shackelford County twenty-five miles north of Albany. On April 9 he arrived at his post, which for the next nineteen months he called "my Texas home." Camp Cooper was a lonely station. Rattlesnakes and wolves ranging about the post and neighboring hostile Indians were ever present reminders of the frontier. But Lee adapted himself to his new work of supervising routine post life, of exploring the adjacent region for a new post site, and of keeping a watchful eye on the Indians. Also, he attended court-martial sessions at Fort Ringgold, Fort Brown, and at Indianola. Moreover, in June 1856, with four squadrons of cavalry from Camp Cooper and forts Mason and Chadbourne, he led a 1,600-mile expedition out to the foothills of the Llano Estacado and returned, scouting the headwaters of the Colorado, Brazos, and Wichita rivers. A brush with the Indians resulted in the capture of three Comanche prisoners. The expedition consumed forty days. On July 23, through the blazing heat of a dry summer, the troopers returned to their home post, having scouted completely valleys and canyons of nearby rivers and creeks. Lee presently heard of other Indian raids, but before he could organize a second expedition, he was called to San Antonio to take command of the regiment, since Johnston had been sent to Washington. At San Antonio Lee's duties were more pleasing, but he did not remain long. On October 21 he also went to Washington to administer the estate of his deceased father-in-law. In October 1859 Lee commanded a detachment of marines which captured John Brown and his abolitionist followers. Lee remained with his family until February 13, 1860, and then returned to San Antonio to assume command of his regiment.

For the next several months Lee, who opposed secession, had little time to watch the gathering clouds of civil war. On March 15 he left San Antonio for Fort Ringgold and Fort Brown to pursue Juan N. Cortina. Although he was unable to trap so slippery a foe, he succeeded in securing a promise from Mexican officials that they would effect the arrest. Eight months later he sought the seclusion of his regimental headquarters at Fort Mason but on February 13, 1861, General Scott ordered his return to Washington to assume command of the Union Army. Instead, Lee determined that he could not fight against his beloved state of Virginia and resigned his commission in the United States Army. Following an inauspicious campaign in western Virginia and a brief stint as military advisor to Jefferson Davis, Lee succeeded Gen. Joseph E. Johnston to the command of the Confederate Army before Richmond, on June 1, 1862. Again and again his military genius brought victory to the South-at Seven Days (June 25-July 1, 1962), at Bull Run (August 29, 1862), along Antietam Creek (September 14–17, 1862) at Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862) and at Chancellorsville (May 2–4, 1863). After the battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), Lee's star of fortune passed its zenith. He left Northern territory for the last time. Gen. U. S. Grant drove Lee's troops through the Virginia wilderness, captured Richmond, and then on April 9, 1865, forced his surrender at Appomattox. Lee returned to civil life. In September 1865 he accepted the presidency of Washington College, at Lexington, Virginia. He died on October 12, 1870.

Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April 1855-April 1861 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1955). Thomas C. Connelly, The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977). Douglas Southall Freeman, R. E. Lee: A Biography (4 vols., New York: Scribner, 1934&ndash35). Karen Kitzman Jackson, "Robert E. Lee's Texas," Texas Highways, January 1992. R. E. Lee, Jr., Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1904 rpt., Wilmington, North Carolina: Broadfoot, 1988). Robert E. Lee, Robert E. Lee on the Rio Grande, ed. John H. Jenkins (Austin: Jenkins, 1988). Carl Coke Rister, Robert E. Lee in Texas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1946).

Unforgiven: Robert E. Lee’s Conflicted Legacy

THE 718 MONUMENTS, installed during the century after the Civil War, decorated town squares, courthouse lawns, and city centers across the South, out west, and north of the Mason-Dixon line. These images portrayed Confederate politicians, generals, and, often, a generic soldier. Southerners bragged of emplacing more memorials “than have ever been erected in any age of the world to any cause, civil, political, or religious.” The Confederate most replicated in metal and stone, Robert E. Lee, had led the Army of Northern Virginia. He became the South’s icon—but symbolism is in the eye of the beholder.

Before April 20, 1861, when he resigned from the U.S. Army to fight for the South, Robert E. Lee seemed bound for neither canonization nor denunciation. A Revolutionary War hero’s son and a former West Point superintendent, Lee was a professional soldier on an upward but ordinary career arc. During the Civil War his trajectory changed radically. The Confederacy’s most gifted commander, he may have done more with less in combat than any American general ever. Southerners called him “Granny Lee” for his caution. His staff called him “The Great Tycoon,” a nod to his leadership. His troops said “Marse Robert,” a term of endearment and slave argot for “master.”

Time’s Imprint: Lee, left, as West Point’s superintendent. (Photo by Ian Dagnall/Alamy Stock Photo)

Rebelling against the United States cost Lee dearly. He lost the Confederate nation he fought for. He lost his family’s Potomac River estate. He lost his rights as an American citizen. Only after his death in 1870 did recognition evolve into adoration, as acolytes employed his memory and his image to recast the Confederacy and its history in terms soothing to southern sensibilities. Lee became touchstone and tinder, beatified and vilified, praised as a figure of principled valor and scorned as a booster of the “peculiar institution.” His presence in marble and bronze offers insights into how Americans have handled the legacy of the nation’s most consequential war and that of slavery, that war’s cause. Presidents have extended Lee degrees of redemption, but the broader public has demonstrated repeatedly that it has not forgotten or forgiven.

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia,
in 1807, Lee was an aristocrat. His father, Harry “Light Horse” Lee, had ridden to glory in the Revolution and politicked his way to influence in Virginia. Robert’s wife, Mary, was a descendant of Martha Washington. In 1829, Lee graduated from the U.S. Military Academy second in a class of 46. Classmates dubbed their reserved companion the “Marble Model” for being the first graduate to leave West Point without even one demerit. He saw peacetime duty as an engineer and combat in the Mexican War. He spent two and a half years as superintendent at his alma mater. All the while, the national debate over slavery was intensifying. “In this enlightened age,” Lee wrote to Mary in 1856, “there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil.” Nevertheless, he insisted to her that slaves “are immeasurably better off here than in Africa.” He endorsed “painful discipline” as “necessary for their instruction as a race.”

In 1857, George Washington Parke Custis died, bequeathing to daughter Mary his 1,100-acre estate, Arlington, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. The property included 196 slaves. Custis had named Lee executor. Custis’s slaves claimed that on his deathbed he had promised them their freedom upon his death, but his will said his executor could keep them in bondage as long as five more years. Lee freed none any earlier. Defiant slaves “refused to obey orders & said they were as free as I was,” Lee complained in a letter to his son, and “resisted till overpowered.”

In 1859, three slaves—two male and one female—fled the plantation. When they were caught, Lee had the county constable uncurl the whip—50 lashes for the men, 20 for the woman—and salt their wounds with brine, Wesley Norris, one of the men flogged, recalled later. The same year, Lee led U.S. Marines in retaking the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, that abolitionist John Brown and followers had seized in a failed bid to ignite a regional slave rebellion.

As the 1860 election neared, Southern states insisted that unless they could keep slavery, they would leave the Union. Abraham Lincoln was elected president on November 6. On December 20, South Carolina seceded. Other states followed. The Confederate States of America took form under a constitution guaranteeing “the right of property” in slaves. Its vice president, Alexander Stephens, declared slavery and white supremacy the would-be nation’s cornerstones.

On April 17, 1861, five days after rebel forces attacked Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, Virginia seceded. Needing a leader for his army, President Abraham Lincoln had a friend, Francis P. Blair, meet Lee on April 18, 1861, with an offer to assign him command of the Union army. Lee declined. “How can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?” he asked Blair. Two days later, Lee resigned from the U.S. Army to join the Confederacy, first as a military advisor to President Jefferson Davis, then as the main Confederate army’s commander, looking the part at 5’10½” and weighing 165 lbs. with a distinctive beard and stern visage.

In May 1861, Union troops seized the Custis-Lee plantation. Soldiers liberated the slaves at Arlington long before Lee officially freed them by filing a deed of manumission on December 29, 1862. Mary Lee fled to Richmond. Her enforced absence from Arlington made tax payments—including a federal levy on property in “insurrectionary districts”—problematic. She sent a cousin to Union-held Alexandria, Virginia, to pay an outstanding $92.07 tax balance. Federal officials said they would accept payment only from the owner, and only if she appeared in person. Taxes on the estate, garrisoned by federal troops and home to freed blacks, went unpaid. At a January 11, 1864, tax sale, the U.S. government bought Arlington for $26,800, well below market value. Union Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs, who wanted turncoat officers hanged as traitors, dedicated parts of the plantation, including Mary Lee’s rose garden, as a burial ground that became Arlington National Cemetery.

On April 9, 1865, with Union forces surrounding his army near Appomattox, Virginia, Lee was pondering surrender when fellow general Edward Porter Alexander proposed breaking the Army of Northern Virginia into small bands to wage guerrilla war. Lee refused. “We must consider its effect on the country as a whole. Already it is demoralized by the four years of war,” he told Alexander. “We would bring on a state of affairs it would take the country years to recover from.” Lee surrendered that day.

Triumphant—Harpers Weekly portrayed Lee kowtowing to the goddess Columbia, popular at the time as a national emblem—but bereft at Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the North rang with demands to try Confederate leaders for treason. Instead, President Andrew Johnson not only pardoned the rebel rank and file en masse but offered higher-ups pardons, too—if they asked. Within a fortnight, Lee requested a pardon. On October 2, 1865, he re-swore allegiance to the United States in a signed oath and urged other former rebels to do the same. “I believe it to be the duty of every one to unite in the restoration of the country,” Lee told a friend. Johnson, beset by radical Republican efforts to impeach him, never acted on Lee’s pardon application (“Power to Pardon,” April 2018).

An Image Cast in Stone: Left, an August 1865 Harpers litho has Lee kneeling to Columbia an 1896 print shows him with Stonewall Jackson, P.G.T. Beauregard, and 18 fellow officers.

After the war, Lee lived quietly. He hardly ever read newspapers and kept his opinions to himself. However, on February 17, 1866, the congressional Joint Committee on Reconstruction called him in to testify on post-war attitudes in the South. In sworn testimony, Lee endorsed education for freed slaves but said he doubted blacks were “as capable of acquiring knowledge as the white man is.” He opposed black suffrage, he told the committee, because enfranchising freedmen would “excite unfriendly feelings between the two races” and “open the door to a great deal of demagogism.” Two months later, Wesley Norris’s account of the 1859 flogging at Arlington appeared in print, along an assertion by Norris that George Washington Custis had promised on his deathbed that upon his death his slaves were to be freed. Publicly, Lee said nothing about Norris’s account of the whipping. Privately he fumed. “No servant, soldier, or citizen that was ever employed by me can with truth charge me with bad treatment,” he wrote to a friend. Lee also wrote to Amanda Parks, a former Custis slave, to apologize for being elsewhere when she had paid a social call, “for I wished to learn how you were, and how all the people from Arlington were getting on in the world.”

Lee was in living in Lexington, Virginia, presiding over Washington College, now Washington & Lee University, when, on Christmas Day 1868, Johnson granted a blanket amnesty to all “who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late insurrection or rebellion.” That action applied to Lee. In 1869, Lee declined to support installation of “enduring memorials of granite” on the Gettysburg battlefield. “I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war,” he wrote to David McConaughy, secretary of the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, “but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife & to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.” An equestrian statue of Lee now stands on the battlefield. In March 1870, Lee was passing through Augusta, Georgia, when admirers surrounded him, including Augusta resident Woodrow Wilson, 13, who squirmed through the crowd until he was standing alongside the former general.

Lee’s death on October 12, 1870, plunged the South into gloom. In Richmond, “everywhere were to be seen evidences of the depression caused by Virginia’s great affliction,” the Daily Dispatch wrote. Many homes and businesses displayed images of Lee draped in black. In the former Confederate capital, the New York Herald reported, “everybody feels as if they had lost a friend.”

In Memoriam: His mausoleum in Lexington, Virginia, features Lee sculpted in repose. (©Look and Learn/Illustrated Papers Collection/Bridgeman Images)

On October 24, former Confederate general Jubal A. Early published an open letter asking rebel veterans to meet November 3 in Lexington to plan a Lee memorial. The goal, an organizer said, was a monument that “will cause all who gaze upon it to feel their hearts more pure, their gratitude more warm, their sense of duty more exalted.”

Pride and defiance fueled the memorial campaign, which went far beyond honoring Lee. “The world must be made to know that Confederate soldiers are not ashamed of the great struggle they made for constitutional liberty, and regret nothing, in that respect, except that they failed to accomplish their great purpose,” Early told veterans at Lexington.

Meanwhile, Mary Lee was trying to reclaim Arlington. Senator Thomas C. McCreery (D-Kentucky) urged Congress to investigate the forced tax sale. Congress refused the Lee family sued. In 1882, the Supreme Court held the seizure illegal, invalidating the rule that a landowner had to appear in person to pay property taxes. Arlington National Cemetery counted nearly 20,000 graves. Stuck, the government negotiated and once again bought Arlington, this time for $150,000. Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln authorized payment to the Lees on May 12, 1883.

By the mid-1880s, the Lee Monument Association had raised $75,000. A Richmond man donated acreage for the memorial. The association wanted a Southern designer, but, Harper’s noted, the South had “few sculptors of eminence” and hiring a Yankee artist was out of the question. The commission—$18,000 for a 21-foot bronze of a uniformed Lee astride Traveller—went to Marius Jean Antonin Mercie, a Parisian sculptor and painter known for epic statuary. A suitable 40-foot granite pedestal, designed by French architect Paul Pujol, cost $42,000.

In 1890, after temporarily assembling his work for a brief display in Paris, sculptor Mercie shipped the components in four crates to New York for transfer by rail to Richmond. The largest, containing the six-ton bronze of Traveller, was 18 feet long, seven feet high, and six feet wide.

On May 7, 1890, some 9,000 men and women, harnessed to wagons, pulled the crates nearly a mile from the Richmond rail station to the site at Monument and Allen avenues. “Never were such crowds seen in Richmond as thronged Broad and Franklin streets during the passage of the procession,” an observer said. Confederate veterans patrolled the grounds day and night while crews worked on the statue, set facing south.

Dedication day, May 29, 1890—a balmy, cloudless Thursday—drew tens of thousands to Richmond, described by a newspaper as “splendidly decorated, better than ever before known.” Many were Confederate veterans massing with comrades for the first time since 1865. Some carried battle-worn flags. Hearing bands play “Dixie,” men wept. Former generals Early, Joseph Johnston, Wade Hampton, and James Longstreet, as well as the widows of Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart attended. Johnston, eldest officer among the dignitaries, unveiled the statue to cheers and cannon and rifle salvos. “Hats and handkerchiefs were thrown in the air as such was never seen before,” a newspaper reported. Confederate flags proliferated, many supplied by the only outfit still making them: Lowell, Massachusetts-based U.S. Bunting, owned by former Union general Benjamin F. Butler.

Keynote speaker and ex-colonel Archer Anderson called Lee a reflection of godly “attributes of power, majesty, and goodness” and “the purest and best man of action whose career history has recorded.” Virginia Governor Philip W. McKinney said critics of Lee and the Confederacy “may as well find fault with nature’s God because He kisses Confederate graves with showers and smiles upon them with His sunshine and garlands them with flowers.”

Not all rejoiced. Honoring the Confederacy, wrote the Richmond Planet, an African-American newspaper, “serves to reopen the wound of war and causes to drift further apart the two sections. It furnishes an opportunity for designing politicians in both political parties to take advantage of the situation and the country suffers.” Abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass derided the “bombastic laudation of the rebel chief.”

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi: Left, a crowd celebrates in New Orleans at the 1884 dedication of a Lee memorial, shown in an accompanying image during its removal in August 2017.

Jim Crow took hold in the South, the repressive code’s presence enlarging further in 1896 when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that separate but equal was equal. In this era, nationalism surged. In 1898, Congress removed the only remaining sanction against former rebels—Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which had barred from federal office any official of the United States who had participated in the rebellion.

Between 1890 and 1920, nearly 400 Confederate monuments, including many portraying Lee, went up. Lobbying elevated Lee from sectional beau ideal to national figure. “The South made its big medicine out of Lee: victory out of defeat, success out of failure, virtue out of fault, unionism out of secession, a New South out of an Old South—all accompanied by piercing rebel yells,” wrote historian C. Vann Woodward. “And the Yankees loved it.” Lee was, historian Peter S. Carmichael wrote, “metaphorically resurrected into a Christlike figure of perfection and the embodiment of the Lost Cause.”

In “Robert E. Lee,” a poem honoring Lee’s 1907 centennial, Julia Ward Howe, composer of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” eulogized him as “a gallant foeman in the fight/A brother when the fight was o’er.” President Theodore Roosevelt praised Lee’s “serene greatness of soul characteristic of those who most readily recognize the obligations of civic duty.” In 1909, Virginia politicians had a bust of Lee placed in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. In 1923, artist Gutzon Borglum, later the auteur of Mount Rushmore, began carving a relief of Lee into Stone Mountain, Georgia. In 1924, former President Woodrow Wilson, who at 13 had met Lee, called honors for him a “delightful thing,” proving “we are a nation and are proud of all the great heroes whom the great processes of our national life have elevated into conspicuous places of fame.” In 1936, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated a Lee statue in Dallas, Texas, to “one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.”

Since Emancipation, African-Americans have struggled to be treated as American citizens. After World War II, as Supreme Court decisions and public sentiment began to tip their way, the cult of the Confederacy persisted, even intensified. In 1948, Baltimore’s mayor drafted Lee into Cold War service. “With our nation beset by subversive groups and propaganda which seeks to destroy our national unity, we can look for inspiration to the lives of Lee and Jackson to remind us to be resolute and determined in preserving our sacred institutions,” Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. said. In 1959, the U.S. Navy named a submarine for Lee. A year later, John F. Kennedy, campaigning for the presidency in North Carolina, extolled Lee as a man who “after gallant failure, urged those who had followed him in bravery to reunite America in purpose and courage.”

In the years between 1950 and 1970, states and municipalities, located mainly in what once was the Confederacy, constructed nearly 50 monuments and named 39 public schools to honor Confederates, including Robert E. Lee. In 1972, carvers finally completed Gutzon Borglum’s relief at Stone Mountain, Georgia, posing Lee riding with Stonewall Jackson and Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

In 1975, Congress purported to restore Lee’s “full rights of citizenship.” Sponsoring Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. (I-Virginia) claimed President Andrew Johnson had failed to act on Lee’s 1865 pardon application because officials had mislaid Lee’s oath of allegiance. The oath had turned up in 1970, Byrd said, urging Congress to pass a resolution ceremonially restoring Lee’s right to hold federal office. Checking with the National Archives, Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) found what he called the “romantic notion of the lost oath” to be untrue Johnson had passed on Lee’s application for political reasons. In any event, Conyers added, Johnson’s 1868 general amnesty covered Lee. And in 1898 Congress had removed the 14th Amendment bar on federal office applying to Lee. Nevertheless, both chambers approved Byrd’s proposed gesture. Signing the resolution on August 5, 1975, President Gerald Ford called Lee “the symbol of valor and of duty.”

However, in recent decades the national tenor toward Confederate decoration has shifted. In 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)—who was eight when her father, Baltimore Mayor Thomas D’Alesandro, hailed Lee as a theoretical cold warrior—had the Lee bust removed from Statuary Hall and stowed in a corner of the Capitol called “the crypt.” The June 17, 2015, murder by an avowed white supremacist of nine congregants at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, accelerated calls to take down totems of the Confederacy. The statue FDR dedicated is in storage. New Orleans dismantled its Lee statue. The bronze in Richmond was an issue in Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race and remains one.

At Mr. Jefferson’s Village: White supremacist protesters demonstrate in Charlottesville, Virginia, against removal of the Lee statue (below) in that city.

Admirers have fought back. The United Daughters of the Confederacy insists members are honoring their ancestors and advocating a “truthful history of the War Between the States.” Conservative online commentator Jack Kerwick sees a crusade intent on “the cleansing from the Western world of all white figures from our past who fail to satisfy the left’s contemporary ‘progressivist’ litmus test.” Donald W. Livingston, a former professor at Emory University, derides assertions that the Civil War was a moral struggle over slavery as “Marxist-style analysis.”

Monuments have power. Admirers of the Confederacy wanted to justify, honor, and enshrine their region’s past. In refusing to endorse monuments at the Gettysburg battlefield in 1869, Lee acknowledged that memorializing the Confederacy would keep open wounds from war. Clearly, those wounds remain unhealed.


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