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Scrubbing the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee Edition

[ 53 ] April 20, 2011 |

See Loomis on Robert E. Lee. Also worth quoting:

The conventional wisdom holds, for example, that Lee disdained secession, but once his state took that step he was duty bound to follow. But these documents show that he was not actually opposed to disunion in principle. He simply wanted to exhaust all peaceful means of redress first, remarking in January 1861 that then “we can with a clear conscience separate.”

Nor was he against the pro-slavery policies of the secessionists, despite postwar portraits of the general as something of an abolitionist. He complained to a son in December 1860 about new territories being closed to slaveholders, and supported the Crittenden Compromise, which would have forbidden the abolition of slavery. “That deserves the support of every patriot,” he noted in a Jan. 29, 1861 letter to his daughter Agnes. Even at the moment he reportedly told Francis Blair that if “he owned all the negroes in the South, he would be willing to give them up…to save the Union,” he was actually fighting a court case to keep the slaves under his control in bondage “indefinitely,” though they had been promised freedom in his father-in-law’s will.

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  1. wengler says:

    The best that could be said about him is he disdained his soldiers less than other Confederate generals. A very low bar to be sure.

    In other news, a politician from Illinois that didn’t bow at their feet got elected so the South went batshit insane and started shooting at the federales. Lee was one of those shooters.

    At least we can be thankful that there isn’t a boomer named after him anymore.

    • Anderson says:

      The *best*? Sure, I think his generalship is overrated, but that’s just because it’s been set on so high a pedestal. The man was a fine tactician.

      • wengler says:

        Against sub-par Union generals early in the war. He had no chance against Grant.

        Lee was also a terrible strategic thinker. His two bumbling invasions of the North only served to galvanize Americans while not supporting any discernible military goals.

        • Anderson says:

          Well, you notice I said “tactician.” And good generals have a way of making their opponents look like bumblers.

          Without subscribing to the “Grant as industrialized butcher” school, I do think that Grant won by refusing to fight the kind of war Lee wanted to fight and by forcing him to fight the kind of war Grant wanted to fight.

        • Hogan says:

          What other choices were available?

      • jefft452 says:

        “The man was a fine tactician.”

        then explain Pickett’s charge

        • Robert Hobbs says:

          Pickett’s charge wasn’t meant to happen and was a last resort, no choice, forced attack.
          You have to understand what led to Pickett’s charge before you can ask one to explain it. Lee wasn’t in the North to win another battle; he was in the North to win the war. How can you say someone who was almost always outnumbered by mass superior numbers and still wins is anything but tactical?
          For one, had the high-grounds been taken on day one like Lee had asked been done there would have been no day two. The battle would have been decided at that point. Day two was problematic because it was a late start in the day – Pickett’s division wasn’t moved up and fully concentrated as Lee had originally planned, Lee had already expended his army, he had no choice but to stay in fight. Day two, pending more time and an extra division, would have seen the hook flanked and broken.
          Day three was Lee’s last measures. He had no choice, his army was expended, he couldn’t afford another ‘half victory’, and it was winning or loses at that point. There was no other option but to attempt to take that ridge. Had lee pulled out, he pulls out with no gain. What you are failing to realize is at this point in the war the North could replace their man power and resources in a month, the South, no longer could do that.
          Lee lost because of lack resources, a lack of time, and a lack of options – NOT because of a lack of tactical mistakes. Not to mention, Stuarts Calvary, was fixated to attack the center of the line from behind and had he not got cut off by Custer that too would have likely seen the break even on day three. Let’s also not forget, Lee was blinded, and the Army of the Potomac came up on him due to the idea that he Stuart was joy riding. There were a lot of small mistakes within command that led to the disaster at Gettysburg – but lee being a bad tactician was NOT one of them!

  2. Mark says:

    Lee’s own personal papers — which were pretty much unavailable for 150 years — show a drastically, profoundly, stupendously different view of Lee.

    In fact, Alan Nolan, author of Lee Considered, says EVERYTHING we think we know about Lee, should be discarded, and start over.

    For example, in Lee’s OWN HANDWRITTEN papers, he keeps obsessive track of certain escaped slave girls — mulatto girls. He paid six times his normal bounty for the return of one girl, about 13-14 years old, who escaped with her white looking child.

    Lee’s bounty hunters searched for her for months, and when they found her, Lee had her bought to him, tied up, and tortured. He screamed at her during her torture — then rented her out to a plantation known for cruelty to slaves. To top it all off, he apparently sold her white looking child.

    Elizabeth Pryor, author of “Reading The Man” had access to Lee’s papers. She adores Lee, and tries very hard to keep his halo on his head. But she reveals astonishing, baffling things.

    She excuses what she can. She calls his torture of slaves “due to Lee’s poor cross cultural communication skills” — as if he could just talk to the slaves better, he wouldn’t have to torture the girls.

    This is a man who had young girls TORTURED.

    Not sorta, not kinda, he had them tortured, and while it was the law in Virginia to whip escaped slaves, Lee needed no law, he seemed to VERY much get into it.

    Pryor excuses that too. She claims Lee “failed to appreciate his slaves desire to be free”.. Hello! How could he not notice! They kept running away! Despite promises of torture – which Lee made good on –Pryor said Lee had “an epidemic of escaped slaves”.

    Who ever said Lee was loved by his slaves is goofy. Pryor says Lee’s slaves said he was “the meanest man I ever saw”.

    Far from being against slavery, Lee was one of the biggest defenders. Yes, there is a letter to his wife, and in one sentence he says slavery is a political and moral evil — but the letter doesn’t stop there. IT goes on. Lee says the blacks are fortunate to be slaves!! He also writes that God knows slavery is cruel and painful – but pain is “necessary for their instruction”. And Lee was very willing to “instruct” they young mulatto girls.

    Most stunning of all, Lee SOLD the white looking babies. Lee regularly sold the children of his slave girls. Pryor puts it this way “Lee separated every family unit, but one”.

    Separated every family UNIT? Pryor deserves a lot of credit for exposing Lee’s torture, his cruelty to slaves — but the way she writes, you would think Lee just had a bad day. Lee could not sell the slaves themselves — due to the terms of the will.

    But the will said nothing about the children born to his slaves. Pryor says he separated every family unit, and elsewhere she says all the female slave girls under 5 were gone. Okay — where did they go?

    Did they vanish? Did they go up in a space ship? Pryor apparently knows, but doesn’t say. There is only so much the public could stand, Furthermore, her audience is wildly pro Lee — if she came out and said he sold white babies– and I mean this literally – her life could be at risk. Southern Lee lovers get that upset. Selling white babies? He would NEVER?

    Oh, wouldn’t he? He would torture 13 year old girls. He would sell babies. What is he going to do with a white looking slave girl? Would he say “Oh my, this is a line I won’t cross” Are you kidding me?

    In fact white looking slave girls — it was well known — sold for a premium. I will let you guess why. But whore houses loved to buy white looking slaves — more men would pay more money for that service. Books written AT THE TIME discussed this horrible reality.

    But if he sold black women that would go to whore houses, and light skinned women, why on EARTH would he say, no, no this one is too white. Get real.

    The real history of Lee has yet to be written. But then, the real history of the South has yet to be written too. Lee is very much a metaphor for the entire South, and the myths we have been told.

    One more thing — If Lincoln’s papers were discovered, and showed he had young girls tortured, paid six times his normal bounty for a particular girl, do you think Southern historians would BARELY mention it?

    http://leepapers.blogspot.com/

    • c u n d gulag says:

      And why should they mention it?

      Lee was a very, very mannerly man, and this was a war over manners with the rude, rude Yankees. At least that’s what one women told me when I lived down South.
      The Civil War, according to them, had nothing to do with slavery. It had to do with manners, or state’s rights, or preference for industial over agricultural policies. Or whatevery. Anything. But don’t ever tell a Southerner that the Civil War was fought over slavery. They will deny it.

      On a serious note, Mark, thanks for the information. You present quite a different Lee than the one I read about in histories and biographies.

    • Jeremy says:

      So what you’re saying is, you don’t much care for the guy?

      I know nothing of Lee, really, so this was an eye-opener.

    • Anderson says:

      A rather odd comment, as if Mark had just discovered that slaveowners did bad things to slaves.

      As for the “white” babies, well, they were white like Obama is white. Nothing to trouble the slaveowners or their Lost-Cause apologists.

      Chernow’s bio of Washington will be nearly as shocking to Mark, as it turns out that Washington, too, not only owned & managed slaves, but treated them like property.

    • hv says:

      Great comment, Mark! Lots of stuff in there that was new to me. I suspect I had fallen for the Lee con a little bit myself.

    • Tom Forehand, Jr. says:

      It is easy to accuse Lee of whipping someone. It is another thing to prove it.

      Other than an accusation from a former slave, could you provide any evidence that Lee ever had anyone whipped?

      Repeating an accusation over and over again does not make it true.

      Thanks,
      Tom Forehand, Jr.

    • southron_98 says:

      You’re believing your own hype, no Owner would lower himself to beat or be present when a slave was beaten it would have been beneath them. That is why they hired an overseer so not to soil their hands or image. If you think Lee would have expressed any feelings to anyone, again you are not familiar with the era, not to mention most whites both North and South put the black as a sub person. When you hear about great relations between the family and slave it was similar to having a family pet you feed it, loved on it, punished it when it did wrong but it was always the family pet. One would never express anything but positive comments in front of family, friends and the ever present slave. One last thing I can’t comment on whether or not Lee was a good master but I can tell you the stories by former slaves should be discounted as false.

  3. Joe says:

    Well, the first link basically notes he was a traitor. Yeah. So, was George Washington. He too served in a past conflict that was a key turning point in his nation’s history. The issue is the cause Lee fought for. That is the problem. The extended reply that basically points to the evils of slavery underlines the point.

    • Murc says:

      That’s sort of why this very site has a tendency to substitute ‘treason in defense of slavery’ for ‘Confederacy’ or ‘Confederate’ whenever appropriate. This country was founded in an act of revolution and one of our most beloved documents states that, as an act of principle, men have a right, even a duty, to commit treason when the situation calls for it.

      So simply playing the ‘treason’ card is often insufficient. You have to explain why, and when it comes to the Confederacy the ‘whys’ are all vile, vile reasons. Saying ‘treason in defense of slavery’ immediately forces neo-Confederates and Confederate apologists on the defensive, where they belong, instead of getting bogged down in a conversation over tangential minutiae, which is where they WANT to fight you.

      • j_h_r says:

        That’s sort of why this very site has a tendency to substitute ‘treason in defense of slavery’ for ‘Confederacy’ or ‘Confederate’ whenever appropriate.

        This, this, a hundred times this, a thousand times this.

      • hv says:

        So simply playing the ‘treason’ card is often insufficient.

        Actually, I find that getting wingnuts to admit it was treason is major progress. I rarely have a problem with wingnuts admitting it was treason but the good, George Washington kind.

        YMMV.

        • Murc says:

          I’ve encountered ‘secession was perfectly legal and therefore not treason’ argument on occasion, but not often. It’s a very weak argument, especially since people making it seem to be incapable of then launching into moral arguments for the rightness of secession, which allows you to stick the knife in.

    • I don’t think the situations are identical. The British government altered a long-standing status quo regarding colonial home rule, repeatedly ignored colonial attempts to negotiate, refused any participation in Parliament, and then clamped down on local self-government.

      The South lost an election. It still had the filibuster and the Supreme Court.

  4. She calls his torture of slaves “due to Lee’s poor cross cultural communication skills”

    Cool Hand Lee.

  5. rea says:

    Lee was what passed in the South as a moderate on slavery. He was no Alexander Stephens, but the “moderate” position was pretty horrifying in and of itself. He was also a very devout, Victorian Christian, which led him to some positions that to modern eyes resemble Torquemada’s–if Christianity for black Africans came at the price of slavery, he thought they were getting a good deal.

    His dealings with slaves were also a bit more complex than Mark above suggests. Lee himself came from an impoverished family, but he married into a family that owned big plantations. His dealings with slaves were as trustee for his mentally disabled wife and executor of the estate of his deceased father-in-law. In those capacities, his legal duty was to use contemporary best slave management practices rather than follow his personal preferences. Lee was just the guy to be convinced that stern duty required him to commit atrocities, however much he disliked them. His father-in-law had left a will directing that his slaves be freed, but also a huge pile of debts, and in a world were slaves were property, that meant that the slaves legally couldn’t simply be freed. Lee spent many years trying to fix the resulting muddle, and on a personal level looked on the coming of war with some relief–at least he wasn’t stuck managing plantations.

    In other words, Lee was neither the plaster saint of legend nor the monster Mark makes him out to be.

    The best-known statement by Lee of his vews on slavery is here.

    • lawguy says:

      Well if Mark is right about the torture and the excessive rewards paid for runaway slave girls then Lee is certainly closer to the monster than you suggest.

      Secondly, and I sincerely wonder this, I had always read that Lee’s wife was physically not mentally disabled.

    • mark f says:

      His dealings with slaves were as trustee for his mentally disabled wife and executor of the estate of his deceased father-in-law. In those capacities, his legal duty was to use contemporary best slave management practices rather than follow his personal preferences. Lee was just the guy to be convinced that stern duty required him to commit atrocities, however much he disliked them.

      Now that’s a stirring defense. It also strikes me as a morally weak one. I’m no expert on this (and to be clear I am not “Mark” from above), so perhaps he was instructed by court order to operate in a certain way. But that’s not evident in the information presented here. Successful business people disagree on labor relations (and other) techniques all the time; saying Lee’s use of the harshest type of “slave management practices” was merely legal obligation seemingly dismisses the choice he would’ve had in the matter.

    • CBrinton says:

      Rea: Lee’s “dealings with slaves were as trustee for his mentally disabled wife and executor of the estate of his deceased father-in-law”

      Lee also owned personally owned slaves, having inherited them, although the exact number and how long he owned them is not precisely known. He mostly rented them out. I’d say this willingness to profit personally from slavery is good evidence Lee had no real problem with the institution.

    • David Hunt says:

      My apologies for going all Godwin on this rea, but that argument regarding Lee sounds disturbingly similar to saying Lee “was just following orders.”

    • hv says:

      …his legal duty was to use contemporary best slave management practices

      What were contemporary best slave management practices? (citation needed)

      Also, how were best practices measured in those time? What process was satisfied in establishing them?

      Did any of these “best practices” embed or conceal vile or racist assumptions that would be salient to this discussion?

  6. rea says:

    Lee also owned personally owned slaves, having inherited them

    From whom? His father (the Revolutionary War general) died disgraced and bankrupt.

    Look, my defense of Lee is very weak–he was neither plaster saint nor monster. Smart enough to see that slavery was immoral; too weak to have the will to do anything about it when he was in a position to make a difference. A big believer in order and discipline rather than personal freedom. The kind of Christian for whom the suffering of others in this world is less important than their chance of heaven in the afterlife.

    • catclub says:

      “A big believer in order and discipline rather than personal freedom.”

      Except for that treason thing.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        With notably rare exceptionsLee was a big believer in order and discipline.

        • mark f says:

          This violates the internet tradition against subjects of the post taking to comments FTW. I think it’s called the Berube Rule. I also think I just made it up.

        • rea says:

          It might seem strange for believers in order and discipline like Lee, Jackson and Davis to become rebels and traitors, but that’s what you get when you have a conservative revolution, from Lucius Cornelius Sulla to the Teaparty. It’s order and discipline for other people.

      • witless chum says:

        No doubt he’d have rationalized that by electing a president who wasn’t completely in hock to the Slave Power (as it was called at the time), which the country had not done in a long time, the yankees had transgressed against order and decency to a degree that good, Christian gentlemen could not abide.

        Which sounds insane to modern ears, but that’s the thing about the past.

        Many have pointed out that the American Civil War is the exception to the rule the rule about winners writing the history books.

    • CBrinton says:

      [Me] Lee also owned personally owned slaves, having inherited them

      [Rea] From whom? His father (the Revolutionary War general) died disgraced and bankrupt.

      Look, my defense of Lee is very weak–he was neither plaster saint nor monster.

    • hv says:

      The kind of Christian for whom the suffering of others in this world is less important than their chance of heaven in the afterlife.

      I’m confused, was that part of your evidence that he was NOT a monster?!

  7. CBrinton says:

    [apologies for the multiple post]

    [Me:] Lee also owned personally owned slaves, having inherited them

    [Rea:] From whom? His father (the Revolutionary War general) died disgraced and bankrupt.

    I don’t know from whom Lee inherited Nancy Ruffin, her children, and the other slaves Lee owned personally, but his ownership is not a matter of dispute. Even his favorably-inclined biographers describe it. Lee had relatives besides Light Horse Harry.

    Records from 1835 show that Lee was the owner of a slave woman (Nancy Ruffin) and her three children. Lee is known to have rented out Ruffin as a laborer, and appears to have hired out the children once they became old enough to work. He had previously owned more slaves than this (received as a bequest), and his will written in 1846 shows Lee still owned slaves as of that date. How late he continued to be a slaveowner is unknown, but as late as 1852 Lee appointed an agent for the supervision of “my servant man Philip Meriday.” [See Emory Thomas, _Robert E. Lee_ (NY: W.W. Norton, 1995), pp. 72, 108, 173.]

    [Rea:] Look, my defense of Lee is very weak–he was neither plaster saint nor monster.

    Your defense is also inaccurate. Lee was personally a slaveowner and he directly profited from that ownership.

    • hv says:

      I’m confused why it is better/relevant that he didn’t inherit them. He purchased them? He enslaved them personally? What’s the non-monster way to acquire slaves again? Inherit is as good as it gets, folks.

      (Also, that whole bit about his maltreatment derived from some conditions left in a will — that becomes mythologizing apologism if he didn’t inherit them.)

  8. Matt McKeon says:

    Slavery in Virginia was a declining institution in the 1850s and there was a brisk trade in selling “surplus” slaves to the slave hungry territories in the deep south(Mississippi, Alabama) which were practically the frontier. Lee’s father in law, Parker Custis, deliberately chose not to participate in that trade, taking a considerable financial hit. In his will he required that the enslaved people on his considerable estates be freed in five years: an act modeled on George Washington’s similar action(Custis was related to the Washington family). He was an antislavery slaveowner.

    Robert E. Lee is best understood not as a plantation owner, but a Victorian middle class professional, a military engineer. In “Reading the Man” Elizabeth Pryor’s recent biography of Lee that incorporates the recently uncovered letters, Lee’s attempt to earn as much income as possible in these five years, by working the enslaved people as much as possible, is a depressing account of black resistance, frustration for Lee, and a reminder that slavery ultimately rested on force. According to Pryor, Lee didn’t enjoy running a plantation, or what it required. But the system required brutality to work.

    Lee once described slavery as an “evil.” But he and other whites couldn’t conceive of a society where free blacks coexisted with whites, and this insight is buried in a paragraph where he goes on to say its the best that is possible in the present day, and we should be nice Christian slaveowners and God will take care of it, sometime.

  9. southron_98 says:

    I am not sure where to start I feel slighted among the elite and scholars. Lawyers? You wrongly judge a 18th century person on a 21st century morals and expectations.

    Mark: Mrs. Pryor accusations have been found to be false and her creditability Your claims don’t match actual recorded records. Lee was not loved by Curtis slaves and for good reason shattered. Subsequent researchers could not find any confirmation to her claims.

    These accusers originally claimed Lee whipped the slaves in question but when records showed the Sheriff had they changed that claim.

    Source “The Black Heritage Museum”.

    “…This attitude explains why, in a much-quoted 1859 letter, Lee said that Custis had left him “an unpleasant legacy”. (14) When Lee took over Arlington’s management in 1857, there were 196 slaves living there. Never a working plantation, the house and its grounds were instead an elegant showplace for the Washington treasury, a collection of artifacts associated with the first president. But Custis had entertained lavishly and often, and his finances were in serious disarray at the time of his death. In fact, Lee believed that the three major provisions of Custis’s will were contradictory: the estate was so deeply in debt that there seemed to be no way for Lee to pay off Custis’s creditors, give a $10,000 cash bequest to each of his daughters, and free all the slaves within five years. In frustration, Lee asked the local circuit court to decide whether he was legally obligated to honor Custis’s deadline. [murray] When the justices answered yes, Lee determinedly set about fulfilling his obligations, and he did so by ordering the Arlington people to work harder and longer than they ever had before. The slaves naturally resisted.(15) They knew that Custis’s will guaranteed their freedom, and their behavior, to a man who preferred not to deal with slaves under the best of circumstances, made Lee’s legacy “unpleasant” indeed….”.

    “Contrary to the letters supposedly written by one of the estate (Curtis Estate) slaves claiming Lee refused to release them (the will did specify to free them. However it also stated that each of the daughters was to be given ten thousand dollars ($10,000)”. Lee let the court decide the issue and the courts ruled before they could be freed they had to provide the $10,000 per daughter as the will required”.

    Number Three (3)
    “Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to ““lay it on well,”” an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done”?

    Forget we are speaking of Lee, let instead discuss John Doe. Keep in mind this was the 1800s, what did whites to include our President Lincoln think of blacks? That is correct they were inferior and would never be on par with whites; ““I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”

    But a slave owner with a few slaves seldom if ever ordered physical punishment and for a number of reasons; the slave would harder to work, control; the slave would be more likely to flee and most importantly the slave might seek revenge. If you could not afford an overseer then you would be the one to face the music.

    A slave owner of means hired an overseer to handle slave matters, which would have been beneath the owner and he would never be presented during discipline. It was considered vulgar and beneath one of status. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying a black was on the level of a pet, I am trying to point out what society at the time thought of physical discipline. That was something along the lines of one of your neighbors mistreating his familys’ livestock or pets, demeaning, cruel, a crude violent person.

  10. southron_98 says:

    Addressing his beating of slaves please for a moment read the Carolina Slave Laws:

    Slaves were forbidden to leave the owner’s property unless accompanied by a white person, or with permission.

    If a slave left the owner’s property without permission, “every white person” was required to chastise them.

    Any slave attempting to run away and leave the colony (later, the state) received the death penalty.

    Any slave who evaded capture for 20 days or more was to be publicly whipped for the first offense; branded with an “R” on the right cheek on the second offense; lose one ear if absent for thirty days on the third offense, and castrated on the fourth offense.

    Owners refusing to abide by the slave code were fined and forfeited their slaves.

    Slave homes were searched every two weeks for weapons or stolen goods. Punishment escalated from loss of an ear, branding and nose-slitting to death on the fourth offense.

    No slave could work for pay; plant corn, peas or rice; keep hogs, cattle, or horses; own or operate a boat; buy or sell, or wear clothes finer than “Negro cloth”.

    No slave could be taught to write, work on Sunday, or work more than 15 hours per day in summer and 14 hours in winter.

    The willful killing of a slave was fined £700, and “passion” killing £350.

    The fine for concealing runaway slaves was $1,000 and a prison sentence up to one year.

    A fine of $100 and six months in prison were imposed for employing a freeman or slave as a clerk.

    A fine of $100 and six months in prison were imposed for selling (or giving) alcoholic beverages to slaves.

    A fine of $100 and six months in prison were imposed for teaching a slave to read and write; the death penalty was imposed for circulating incendiary literature.

    Freeing a slave was forbidden except by deed (after 1820, only by permission of the legislature; Georgia required legislative approval after 1801).

    The slave codes in the tobacco colonies (Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia) were modeled on the Virginia code, established in 1667. The 1682 Virginia code included the following provisions:

    Slaves were prohibited from possessing weapons.

    Slaves were prohibited from leaving their owner’s plantation without permission.

    Slaves were prohibited from attacking a white person, even in self-defense.

    A runaway slave, refusing to surrender, could be killed without penalty

  11. southron_98 says:

    As to “white slaves” sex was a much abused issue with slaves.

    “South Carolina also attacked New York for no longer allowing temporary slavery. In the past, Charleston gentry who wanted to spend a cool August in the North could bring their cooks along. By 1860, New York made it clear that it was a free state and any slave brought there would become free. South Carolina was outraged. Delegates were further upset at a handful of northern states for letting African-American men vote. Voting was a state matter at the time, so this should have fallen under the purview of states’ rights. Nevertheless, southerners were outraged. In 1860, South Carolina pointed out that according to “the supreme law of the land, [blacks] are incapable of becoming citizens.” This was a reference to the 1857 Dred Scott decision by the southern-dominated U.S. Supreme Court”.

    I thought this interesting, as research has shown the individuals behind slaves not being allowed in the North was Southron women; it seems a peculiar by product of slavery was what amount to open sex with a mistress. What was happening during the hot summers the rich would take their families and mistresses North and I guess had a wonderful vacation. Women had little to say in these days and went to great lengths to hide their involvement.

    Recent advancements in DNA are saying in your family was here before 1907 there would be no pure whites or blacks. NOTE: There have been several announcements of celebrities proving just that fact: Vanessa Williams; Spike Lee; Bob Dylan.

    Lee did own his own slaves and in his will freed them. One a Nancy Ruffin. Had a son called William Mack Lee. If you Google that name you’ll find a negro by that name possessed to have been Lees servant during the war.

    Here is an example of how gullible someone is, just because someone wrote a book of course it helps when the Virginia Historical Society sells it.

  12. southron_98 says:

    “One tiny book — perhaps it should be called a pamphlet — was written by the Rev. William Mack Lee, who served as Gen. Lee’s slave, bodyguard and cook during the Civil War. The book, “History of the Life of Rev. Wm. Mack Lee: Body Servant of General Robert E. Lee through the Civil War: Cook from 1861 to 1865,” was written in 1918 when William Mack Lee was 82 years old. The reverend wrote his memoir to raise money to pay off a debt on the last church building he helped build. When he wrote the short book, he needed $418 to pay for the church.

    Mack was born June 12, 1835 in Virginia and raised at Arlington Heights in Robert E. Lee’s home. He was 26 when the Civil War began and he went with Lee as his personal bodyguard and cook. He was a free black man as Gen. Lee, who did not believe in slavery, freed all his slaves 10 years before the war. Mack and all the other freed slaves had a choice to leave or stay and they all stayed on the plantation. Mack wasn’t literate, but he started preaching sermons two years before the war.
    He married six years before the war began and had eight daughters. Mack’s wife died in 1910. He was ordained July 12, 1881 as a Baptist preacher and built his first church in Washington, D.C.
    Mack got the idea to write a book when he went to the World-News office in Bedford, Va., to solicit donations for the church he needed to pay for. He told the receptionist why he was there. All the clerks listened to his plea for money and immediately went back to typing. The stooped and limping old man, who had a white, grizzly beard and an honest face, then told the office workers that he had been Gen. Robert E. Lee’s bodyguard and cook throughout the horrible war. All the typewriters stopped. The workers turned their attention to Mack and he told them his fascinating personal stories. When he got up to leave more than half an hour later, everyone in the office opened their wallets and gave him generous donations. His story was published in the newspaper, and readers tracked him down to donate to his cause.

    In his little book, the reverend made a list of the generals and great officers he cooked for during the war. Some of the most well-known were Stonewall Jackson, who was a very dear friend of Lee’s, J.E.B. Stuart, George Pickett, Wade Hampton, James Longstreet and Jefferson Davis. He also listed the many different battles they endured together. Jackson was one of the South’s most aggressive generals and was the next best-known under Gen. Lee.

    Mack described the day that word arrived that Stonewall Jackson had died. Mack, who was not yet aware of Jackson’s death, went to see his master. Gen. Lee told Mack that he had “lost his right arm.” Mack looked at Lee and replied, “Marse Lee, how can that be? You have not been in a battle since yesterday and I don’t see any blood on your arm.”

    Gen. Lee said, “I am broken-hearted and my heart is bleeding.” The cook said the general looked as if he wanted to be alone with his thoughts so Mack left him alone. The next morning, Lee told his servant that his dear friend Stonewall had died. Mack had heard that Stonewall had been shot accidentally by the Confederate pickets at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. They mistook Stonewall and several staff members for Union soldiers. Stonewall took three bullets and several staff members and many horses were killed. Stonewall’s left arm was amputated. Stonewall developed complications from pneumonia and died eight days later at the age of 39. Lee sent a message to him as he was dying that said, “You have lost a left arm, but I have lost my right arm.” Gen. Stonewall Jackson once said Lee was “the only man I would follow blindfolded.”

    My favorite story that Mack told in his book was about a little, black hen. Gen. Lee got a little black hen from a man in Petersburg. He kept the hen and named her Nellie. He let her make her nest in the wagon and she laid an egg almost every day for two years. He loved the little hen as he loved all of God’s creatures. One day as they were about to pull out from the camp and move to another place, the little hen went missing. An APB was put out for Nellie. She was finally found, put back into the wagon and the unit moved on.

    On July 3, 1863, Gen. Lee informed Mack, the cook, that he had invited several generals to eat lunch with them. Mack became very anxious and agitated. He said, “I was jest plumb bumfuzzled.” There was hardly any food available for anyone to eat. The men and horses were starving. He scratched his head and thought. He made some flannel cakes, a pitcher of tea and some lemonade. This was certainly not enough to feed a bunch of hungry generals. He heard Nellie cackle after laying her egg. The thought entered his head. He hated to do it but it seemed he had no choice. He wrung poor, old faithful Nellie’s neck and cleaned her. He stuffed her with a dressing made with bread crumbs and butter and cooked her. At dinner time, with all the generals sitting around the makeshift table, Mack proudly produced a platter with a large baked, stuffed hen on it. Gen. Lee looked at it and straight at Mack. Instantly, he admonished Mack in front of all the generals for killing the little pet hen that provided them with an egg a day. Mack said it was the only time Lee ever scolded him.

    Gen. Lee said, “No, you didn’t have to kill her. Now, Mack, what are we going to do for eggs? You have already killed the hen that laid the golden eggs. I am going to write Miss Mary (Lee’s wife) and tell on you!”

    I wonder if they all enjoyed the baked hen.

    Just a few days after baking the hen for the generals, Mack went out to get Traveler, Gen. Lee’s horse, ready for the general to ride. He saddled the horse and led him over in front of the tent. Just as he tied her there, shots rang out from the Union army. One landed and exploded about 35 feet from Mack. Shrapnel struck him in his head and in his hip. He fell over and the general told him later that he had never heard anyone holler as loud as Mack did when the shells struck him. He was taken to the hospital for a few days. The piece of shell in his hip was never removed. He pointed to the hole in his head to show the office personnel.

    Mack was with Gen. Robert E. Lee when he bade farewell to his comrades and instructed them to go home and make themselves good citizens after he surrendered in April 1865. Mack had several gavels made from the poplar tree under which Lee stood while making the farewell speech. Mack went home with the general and stayed with him until Lee died at the early age of 63 in 1870. He, like Stonewall, also died from pneumonia complications after having a stroke several days earlier.
    The Rev. William Mack Lee ended his book by saying that he had been raised by one of the greatest men in the world. Gen. Robert E. Lee generously left the Rev. Mack Lee $350 in his will for Mack to continue his education, which he did”. http://www.bryancountynews.net/archives/10943/ Margie Love

  13. southron_98 says:

    To begin with the Reverend claimed he was raised as a slave at Arlington if you review the property list you will find he was and is not listed among the slaves or as property.

    “The onliest time that Marse Robert ever scolded me,” said William Mack Lee, “in de whole fo’ years dat I followed him through the wah, was, down in de Wilderness–Seven Pines– near Richmond. I remembah dat day jes lak it was yestiday. Hit was July the third, 1863.”

    I am sure everyone remembers where Lee was on that date? Does the word Gettysburg July 3, 1863 ring a bell? The same when it comes to the Wilderness or Seven Pines.

    The Reverend then states he and Marsh Lee where at First Manassas which of course we all know Lee was not at the Battle.

    He then goes on to say at the Wilderness in 64’ the cooked for Jackson who had died in May of 1863.

    “On dat day–July the third–we was all so hongry and I didn’t have nuffin in ter cook, dat I was jes’ plumb bumfuzzled. I didn’t know what to do. Marse Robert, he had gone and invited a crowd of ginerals to eat wid him, an’ I had ter git de vittles. Dar was Marse Stonewall Jackson, and Marse A. P. Hill, and Marse D. H. Hill, and Marse Wade Hampton, Gineral Longstreet, and Gineral Pickett and sum others.”

    Neither Lee nor anyone in his staff be it on paper or speech ever mentions him. But more importantly Lee; Walter Taylor; Lt. Colonel Porter E. Alexander; Captain E. C. Fitzhugh and even Stuart state in many of their correspondences that Perry and William Parks along with Billy Taylor served as the Generals cooks and servants!

    “Having stayed on Marse Robert’s plantation 18 years after the war and with limited schooling, ”
    Wasn’t Arlington being used for something else? Oh I remember a graveyard!

    William Mack Lee a black who made many claims and was widely accepted throughout the South as an icon because of his supposed involvement with Lee. In most cases when relating these and other stories he was soliciting monies to build churches and apparently no one questioned him either because they wanted to believe him or did. Even then there appears to be problems:

    Mack says he built the Third Baptist Church in Washington, DC at a cost of three thousand dollars, began its pastor and increased the pastored two years, increasing the membership. The Church says it was built in 1885 by the Rev. William B. Jefferson. http://www.thirdbaptistchurch.org/history.html

    Cromwell’s history states that the church was completed in 1893, and cost $26,000, and that under James Lee around 200 members were added:

    ‎The Reverend claimed Lee had stated ‘At the close of the struggle, General Lee said to General Grant: ‘Grant, you didn’t whip me, you just overpowered me, I surrender this day 8,000 men; I do not surrender them to you, I surrender on conditions; it shall not go down in history I surrendered the Northen Confederate Army of Virginia to you. It shall go down in history I surrendered on conditins; you have ten men to my one; my men, too, are barefooted and hungry. If Joseph E. Johnston could have gotten to me three days ago I would have cut my way through and gone back into the mountains of North Carolina and would have given you a happy time.’“ What these conditions were I do not know, but I know these were Marse Robert’s words on the morning of the surrender: “I surrender to you on conditions’

  14. southron_98 says:

    Secession was found to have been illegal. It appears something similar has occurred concerning Chief Justice Chase and the question whether or not secession had been legal. Most people including the writer have long quoted Judge Chase remarks to Stanton where he stated, “If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not rebellion…His (Jeff Davis’) capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason.”

    When you examine the events of the day it is well documented President Andrew Johnson wanted to prosecute the individuals responsible for the war; they had President Davis imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe. President Johnson planned on having Generals Lee, Longstreet, and a host more arrested and sent to Monroe to be imprisoned along with Davis. In the meantime Lee had contacted Grant for advice and Grant told him in his opinion he was covered under the surrender terms. President Johnson did not agree and moved forward with plans to have Lee arrested; he only agreed to drop his plans when Grant threaten to resign his commission.

    When one reads the diary entries and other meeting notes you’ll find Judge Chase was not talking legally but politically Lee would have to be tried in Virginia by his peers so there was no way the government could secure a conviction. There were fears it might reopen hostiles and any case it would prevent a peaceful transition from war to peacetime; at no time did he say he thought Davis or any other rebel leader were innocent.

    Further proof of this can be found two years later in Texas v. White 1869 when he ruled against secession and stated
    “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible states.” Identify three specific provisions in the Constitution that indicate “an indestructible Union” and three that point to “indestructible states.”

    “When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation.… The union between Texas and the other States was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States.”

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