Robert E Lee

A comment seen elsewhere:

Robert E. Lee\’s sins are well-known, and heavily-paid for; besides, Obama was telling a wicked joke which was actually funny…. but what the hell, a Lee story that OUGHT to be more widely known:

One thing that Americans sometimes undervalue is being a good loser. Lee lost badly, after all, in every way (stroll through his family\’s old rose garden sometime), but after Appomattox when Mosby proposed to Lee that he could take his men up into the hills and kill Yankees until Kingdom Come, Lee told him to give it up — and he had the moral clout to make it stick. That\’s not nothing.

But of course the biggest problem in the Confederacy was race, what to do with emancipated slaves: a whole society, centuries old, turned upside down. That it healed to scab doesn\’t mean it couldn\’t have been worse — and there were moments when it looked like it might have been better.

There was a famous incident right after the war, when an incredibly courageous black man dared to walk up to the rail at Christ Church in Alexandria (it\’s still there) to receive communion — a literally unthinkable outrage. The terms "segregation" or even "civil rights" don\’t do justice to the immediate post-slavery environment — there was stunned silence in the church, nobody knew what to do.

And then Robert E. Lee got up, walked to the rail, and knelt next to the man. IIRC, the minister served the black man first.

Is that an image, or what?

5 comments on “Robert E Lee

  1. History is written by the victors. It is always fun to tease Americans with some uncomfortable facts about the Civil War which they are not taught in school.

  2. It’s well known that, at Appamattox, Lee refused to surrender his sword to a black man, the officer designated for the ceremony. He relented a moment later when it was pointed out that the officer was not back, but Indian (and Lee actually recognized him as a years-past acquaintance.

    Lee also manumitted approximately 50 slaves (about 10 years before the war) that came to be his property through marriage.

    Nathaniel Bedford Forrest (who became head of the Klu Klux Klan) commanded some fair number of black Confederate soldiers and was famously quoted in a newspaper of the day that “the Confederacy has no finer fighting men”
    or roughly similar.

    Grant held slaves and didn’t free them before, during, or after the war–they had to wait for the constitutional amendment. His explanation to newspaper reporters: “these days, good help is just so hard to find.”

  3. Hmmm…. which is worse? That the POTUS doesn’t understand the role of a professional soldier in a constitutional democracy, or that he does, but he thinks the whole idea of apolit5ical agents of the government’s will thing is kind of a drag.

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