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Robert E Lee's birthday

globetrotter

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when I was very young, Robert E Lee was a serious hero to me. and, probrably because of that, his birthday is implanted in my brain, much more so than the birthdays of my siblings, even. as it comes around this year, my thoughts popped in his direction. strangly enough, as I got older, I found him a great deal less admirable, and have other, radically different "heros". There are two things about him that caused me to reconsider his status in my eyes - first, the botton line is that he prolonged a war, losing and causing huge numbers of causlulties. hard to get past that. second, he was a slaveholder, and the chattel slavery issue is not a small one.


on the other hand, and this gets back to the reason for the post - he was an excellent example (including in his shortcomings) of a gentleman. it is hard to find a better example of an american gentleman of the 19th century. he did his duty to his family and his people, he fought, he educated, he built. and, frankly, he looked very respectable doing it.
 

RJman

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Certain southern states celebrate a Robert E Lee day on the same day as MLK day.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by RJman
Certain southern states celebrate a Robert E Lee day on the same day as MLK day.


I'm sure that is the way they both would have wanted it.....
 

blackgrass

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It could be argued that because of Lee that the war ended sooner. Several of the southern generals wanted to continue the fight by utilizing guerilla tactics. Lee did think this was a respectable way to continue the war and thus admitted defeat. To me that shows a pretty big strength of character.
 

FLMountainMan

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globetrotter said:
There are two things about him that caused me to reconsider his status in my eyes - first, the botton line is that he prolonged a war, losing and causing huge numbers of causlulties. hard to get past that. second, he was a slaveholder, and the chattel slavery issue is not a small one.
QUOTE]

In his defense, he feeed his slaves ten years before the Civil War began
 

Charley

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Originally Posted by RJman
Certain southern states celebrate a Robert E Lee day on the same day as MLK day.

I believe that Lee's birthday was intentionally chosen for MLK day.
Just as Lee's family home was chosen for a Union cemetary site.

REL's birthday is the 19th.
MLK's birthday is the 15th.
 

Liberty Ship

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Lee freed his slaves before the war. Grant's family, however, continued to own slaves into the 1860's, perhaps until 1867. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the Southern states. It took the 13th and 14th amendments to free them nationwide.

Lee believed slavery to be an evil:

Robert E. Lee's Opinion Regarding Slavery
This letter was written by Lee in response to a speech given by then President Pierce.

Robert E. Lee letter dated December 27, 1856:

I was much pleased the with President's message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans and purposes are also clearly set forth. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor, -still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course. . . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?
 

globetrotter

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there is an issue with REL's relationship with slave's that disturbs me. Frankly, I do not know if it is true or not, which is why I didn't raise it in the earlier post. perhaps someone here can prove or disprove it.

my understanding is that when REL inherited his father in laws estate, including 63 slaves, the will instructed that they be freed, and allowed 5 years to do so, with the understanding that that 5 years was to allow the orderly arrangment of the estate. as the estate was in shambles, REL kept the slaves until the last possible legal moment, which involved renting them out to others, in order to raise capital.

while I cannot put myself in his shoes, if this is correct and accurate, and I o not know that it is, it falls clearly in the range of a person doing something that he claims to be against, because of his financial needs at the time. this would not be a very gentemanly thing to do. while I have done similar things when put into a tough situation, I can't say that this is something that I admire.

whether or not it is true, REL has enough examples of being a gentleman a scholar and a warrior to cover any 10 men.
 

Liberty Ship

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Originally Posted by globetrotter
there is an issue with REL's relationship with slave's that disturbs me. Frankly, I do not know if it is true or not, which is why I didn't raise it in the earlier post. perhaps someone here can prove or disprove it.

my understanding is that when REL inherited his father in laws estate, including 63 slaves, the will instructed that they be freed, and allowed 5 years to do so, with the understanding that that 5 years was to allow the orderly arrangment of the estate. as the estate was in shambles, REL kept the slaves until the last possible legal moment, which involved renting them out to others, in order to raise capital.

while I cannot put myself in his shoes, if this is correct and accurate, and I o not know that it is, it falls clearly in the range of a person doing something that he claims to be against, because of his financial needs at the time. this would not be a very gentemanly thing to do. while I have done similar things when put into a tough situation, I can't say that this is something that I admire.

whether or not it is true, REL has enough examples of being a gentleman a scholar and a warrior to cover any 10 men.



Well, we pretty much agree on Lee. On today, his birthday, I'll offer a couple more quotes:

"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained."

"With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore resigned my commission in the Army, and save in defense of my native State, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed, I hope I may never be called on to draw my sword..."

"They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins."

While you may be correct that Lee prolonged the war, I would counter that in doing so he continued to earn the loyalty and respect of his troops to the point that when he finally surrendered and asked them to stand down, they did. The alternative to their being willing to accept that order, and his being willing to give it, would have been an endless gurellia warfare, and the ultimate balkinization of the Southern states.

Lee's continued leadership after Gettysburg contributed to a cohesiveness that made it possible for the North to achieve a clean military victory. I'm not saying that's a good thing, but absent a Southern victory, it beat the alternative. Sometimes you just have to play out a bad hand.
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by Liberty Ship
While you may be correct that Lee prolonged the war, I would counter that in doing so he continued to earn the loyalty and respect of his troops to the point that when he finally surrendered and asked them to stand down, they did. The alternative to their being willing to accept that order, and his being willing to give it, would have been an endless gurellia warfare, and the ultimate balkinization of the Southern states.

.



excellent point
 

Charley

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If REL had employed in Pennsylvania the same tactics that Sherman used in Georgia, the War Between the States would have concluded very soon.
 

Clio

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Originally Posted by Liberty Ship
Robert E. Lee's Opinion Regarding Slavery
Fascinating. Lee believed slavery was a "greater evil to the white than to the colored race" and was beneficial to the Africans because the "painful discipline" they endured was necessary to make them better people and that abolitionists should quit complaining about slavery because this is all part of God's plan for the Africans anyway. Oh, and abolitionists stir up angry feelings in slave masters. So really, when whipping a slave, a master should have been saying "See what those abolitionists made me do! This hurts me more as a good Christian man than it does you and you'll thank me in the long run." What a nerve that Martin Luther King Jr. had being born so close to Robert E. Lee's birthday!
 

globetrotter

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Originally Posted by Charley
If REL had employed in Pennsylvania the same tactics that Sherman used in Georgia, the War Between the States would have concluded very soon.


that's sort of like saying "if my brother in law had been able to run his pizza place with the same skills that bill gates has, he would have been a millionaire by now"

lee was a great gentleman, but when faced with the stratigic genous of sherman and grant, he was way outclassed. lee was working with tools half a century old, while they were working with tools that they invented and would still be used 100 years later.
 

jcusey

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Originally Posted by RJman
Certain southern states celebrate a Robert E Lee day on the same day as MLK day.

In Virginia, it's Lee-Jackson day, Jackson having been born on January 21.
 

RJman

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Originally Posted by jcusey
In Virginia, it's Lee-Jackson day, Jackson having been born on January 21.
Yes, in the interest of brevity I didn't want to go state by state.

RJ-good-ol'-boy
 

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