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WWGLS: "What Would General Lee Say?"

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  • WWGLS: "What Would General Lee Say?"

    Before the screeches of tortured anguish begin, I've stated on these here forums that of all of the US' historical characters, Gen Lee is the one that I've admired the most. So naturally I found myself interested when a journalist asked an historian the question, "how might Gen lee feel about this monuments controversy?"

    . . . . Debates about the removal of Confederate statues have been ongoing for many years, and opponents of removing the monuments often decry such attempts as an attempt to erase history.

    In light of all this, it's probably best to remember one relevant historical fact: Robert E. Lee was opposed to Confederate monuments.

    “It’s often forgotten that Lee himself, after the Civil War, opposed monuments, specifically Confederate war monuments,” Jonathan Horn, a Lee biographer, told PBS.

    After the Civil War, Lee received a number of letters requesting support for the erection of Confederate memorials, according to Horn.

    In June 1866, he wrote that he couldn't support a monument of one of his best generals, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, saying it wasn't "feasible at this time."

    "As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated," Lee wrote in December 1866 about another proposed Confederate monument, "my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour."

    Not only was Lee opposed to Confederate memorials, "he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether," Horn wrote.

    He even supported getting rid of the Confederate flag after the Civil War ended, and didn't want them them flying above Washington College, which he was president of after the war.

    "Lee did not want such divisive symbols following him to the grave," Horn wrote. "At his funeral in 1870, flags were notably absent from the procession. Former Confederate soldiers marching did not don their old military uniforms, and neither did the body they buried."

    “His Confederate uniform would have been ‘treason’ perhaps!” Lee’s daughter wrote, according to Horn.

    "Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker,” Horn told PBS. “He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive."

    "Here’s what Robert E. Lee thought about Confederate monuments," by Daniel Brown, from Business Insider, courtesy Yahoo News, 16 Aug 2017
    - emphasis mine

    Perhaps Gen Lee's genius was most prominent not on the battlefield, but only became apparent after the war had ended, when he realized that unduly promoting unnecessary controversy would prove no good for any body.
    I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

  • #2
    Not only was Lee opposed to Confederate memorials, "he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether," Horn wrote.

    Wal-Mart is going to love this....
    You'll live, only the best get killed.

    -General Charles de Gaulle

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    • #3
      Originally posted by asterix View Post
      Not only was Lee opposed to Confederate memorials, "he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether," Horn wrote.

      Wal-Mart is going to love this....
      Maybe this is the point we should ask ourselves, "why do we go beyond merely studying our history, but instead we actually endeavor to hold on to it, we fetishize it, as if history itself were a tangible object, or even a living thing?" In places like Serbia and Kosovo they've done exactly that, and the results have not been pretty. Is that something that we're at risk of doing here? I think that a fair question . . . .
      I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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      • #4
        But... if they let go of all those Battlefields, the Govt might have to hand them over to private ownership!


        Perish the thought ...
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

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        • #5
          Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
          Maybe this is the point we should ask ourselves, "why do we go beyond merely studying our history, but instead we actually endeavor to hold on to it, we fetishize it, as if history itself were a tangible object, or even a living thing?" In places like Serbia and Kosovo they've done exactly that, and the results have not been pretty. Is that something that we're at risk of doing here? I think that a fair question . . . .
          I would say because it reminds us of who we are, where we have come from and far we still have to go. Beyond that, however, it is - IMHO - necessary to honor the sacrifices made by so many in the service of great causes. If their memories are forgotten, if their dedication is simply brushed aside and paved over for another Wal-Mart, who are we and what do we have left to live for?
          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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