An Antislavery R. E. Lee?


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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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No, they preferred progress and opportunity. Much easier to obtain in the industrialized north. The south was the Old Dominion. Wealth was largely limited to the planter class. The rest were dirt farmer or worse. Winter had nothing to do with it. It was all about opportunity.
Thomas Lincoln was like many Southerners who moved into a free state for the economic opportunities available away from slavery.
 

War Horse

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Post it, then. I'm aware of a "letter" to a Northern newspaper about this. It was signed, "A. Citizen."

What a joke.
Post it, then. I'm aware of a "letter" to a Northern newspaper about this. It was signed, "A. Citizen."

What a joke.
I’ll see if I can find it.
 

War Horse

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Thomas Lincoln was like many Southerners who moved into a free state for the economic opportunities available away from slavery.
Or you mean the limited opportunity in the south controlled in the south by the social classes. Slavery may have been one of their vehicles of controlling wealth but they controlled it and did not willingly share it.
 
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Thomas Lincoln went West for more, cheaper farmland, just like everyone else. It's absurd to call this a morality play, but I guess we should expect this from 21st century posters. Slavery is the axis of our world, but not theirs's.
 

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I'm pretty sure the evidence of Ulysses Grant's ownership of slaves before the war is far more solid than that of Lee's.

Looking forward to what you guys can come up with...
Trust me Drew, Lee owned George Washington Curtis’s slaves long after he was to have freed them per Curtis’ will. His reason for retaining them in bondage was his own financial interests. A man opposed to slavery would not have put his needs before their freedom which was entirely in his control.
 

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Or you mean the limited opportunity in the south controlled in the south by the social classes. Slavery may have been one of their vehicles of controlling wealth but they controlled it and did not willingly share it.
Competition from enslaved labor tended to lead to depressed wages for nonslaveholding laborers.
 
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Trust me Drew, Lee owned George Washington Curtis’s slaves long after he was to have freed them per Curtis’ will. His reason for retaining them in bondage was his own financial interests. A man opposed to slavery would not have put his needs before their freedom which was entirely in his control.
Yes, but isn't it true a Confederate States Court forced his hand? I'd have to look it up but I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

This thread is about Lee being anti-slavery. I don't believe that but I do buy he was dubious about it. There's enough in his personal correspondence to support his doubt.
 

byron ed

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I mean most Americans, not just most Northerners.
That's going way too far.There's little indication that most Americans, North and South, were anti-slavery. Wishful thinking of a modern optimist. Based on period accounts you'd have to instead say that most Americans were lukewarm either way (pro- or anti-slavery) unless or until it affected them directly.

Lukewarm "anti-slavery" was content to suppose freed slaves would be resettled somewhere else far away, and lukewarm "pro-slavery" was content in not having to compete for paying jobs.

Of those Americans actually committed to the anti-slavery cause, many more were in the North. Let's not kid about that. Put another way, clearly there were more pro-slavers in the South.
 

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That's going way too far.There's little indication that most Americans, North and South, were anti-slavery. Wishful thinking of a modern optimist. Based on period accounts you'd have to instead say that most Americans were lukewarm either way (pro- or anti-slavery) unless or until it affected them directly.

Lukewarm "anti-slavery" was content to suppose freed slaves would be resettled somewhere else far away, and lukewarm "pro-slavery" was content in not having to compete for paying jobs.

Of those Americans actually committed to the anti-slavery cause, many more were in the North. Let's not kid about that. Put another way, clearly there were more pro-slavers in the South.
Not in South Carolina or Mississippi.

I suppose if one didn't consider black folks to be people one could agree with you.

You can also compare the population of those who chose to live in free states with those who lived in slave states, minus enslaved people.
 

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In the statement of "most people being against slavery", I believe the key word is "people", as opposed to "white southerners ". This would automatically include 4 million enslaved and free Blacks, who were the majority of the population in SC. (not close to a reliable signal, so I stand corrected if wrong)
 

byron ed

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Not in South Carolina or Mississippi.
?? By accounts most folks in South Carolina and Mississsippi, even to consider only white people, were not anti-slavery by any stretch.

I suppose if one didn't consider black folks to be people one could agree with you.
Ok, but seems a moot point. How to connect that to your premise that most people North and South were anti-slavery? (which, sorry, seems more preposterous each time it's repeated).

There were certainly a few whites on either side of the issue that didn't consider black folks to be people, but the more common view among whites were in line with Lee's view of it, that blacks were people but of a lesser type (in the civic sense 2/5ths less).

You can also compare the population of those who chose to live in free states with those who lived in slave states, minus enslaved people.
You could, but what difference at all does that make to your premise that most people North and South were anti-slavery? (again, shudder). Explain, and please how would that even relate to Lee's views on slavery?
 
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DanSBHawk

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If Lee was truly antislavery, he would have done right off the bat what he eventually had to do anyway--sell land to raise the legacies.
Agree with this and additionally, the female heirs that Custis left the legacies were Lees daughters.

So it doesn't reflect well on Lee that he kept his father-in-laws slaves in bondage in order to raise money for his own daughters.
 

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Edited.
You could, but what difference at all does that make to your premise that most people North and South were anti-slavery? (again, shudder).
My claim is most Americans were antislavery. Most Americans chose to live in free states, away from slavery. Of those who were living in the slave states, we can easily say 40% of them were antislavery.

Explain, and please how would that even relate to Lee's views on slavery?
Someone claimed Lee's views on slavery were the same as most Americans', which is patently false.
 

byron ed

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Edited.
Someone claimed Lee's views on slavery were the same as most Americans', which is patently false.
Are you referring to "the more common view among whites were in line with Lee's view of it"? That's not patently anything. It's a measured comment based on many period accounts.
 
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Yes, but isn't it true a Confederate States Court forced his hand? I'd have to look it up but I'm pretty sure that's what happened.

This thread is about Lee being anti-slavery. I don't believe that but I do buy he was dubious about it. There's enough in his personal correspondence to support his doubt.
Actually the opposite. He forced the courts for a judgement that they were his and NOT to be free'd. When his 5 years was up he petitioned the court to keep them longer. He also petitioned to rent them out of state. And when that request was denied appealed that to a higher court.

His slaves said on his father in law's deathbed he had free'd them. Lee took time off from the military to take that case to court. In court blacks were not allowed to be witnesses, so the case was won by Lee. He had 5 years to free them, told his son he might ignore that and just "just leave them as they are.”

Then of course the dozen of his own slaves which no papers were found that he ever emancipated them. One of his sons tried saying he free'd them without papers so they wouldn't have to leave VA, but that doesn't hold up to the most basic scrutiny as a freedman in VA without papers for his freedom would be re-enslaved, and he did go through the process of freeing his in laws slaves on paper, so it doesn't hold up. The best we know they were never emancipated. Zero courthouse records of it and no writings of it in any of his records.

To me, a person who spends money to chase down escaped slaves, re-enslave them, and then torture them for trying to be free, is NOT anti-slavery. That's the opposite of that term.

One of his slaves, a Mr Wesley Norris after hearing of how Lee was fighting to keep them forever, trying to send them south with fewer chances of freedom, and breaking the Custis tradition by breaking apart slave families finally had enough. He ran away and when caught was beaten and tortured for running away and wrote about that ordeal, (supported with 5 eyewitness accounts) saying Lee called out County Sherriff Dick Williams to mete out the torture (which included washing their backs with salt water after whipping them). And Lee's ledgers show him paying Dick Williams for “for capturing, &c, the fugitives.” at that time. That's not an anti-slavery stance.

You also have his letters to Grant in the war. Threatening to pull back POW trades because black troops needed to be kept as they were Confederate property. Yes his call was they would be enslaved for life. Something he only chose to relent on when Grant threatened to pull back out of the entire trade. That's not an anti-slavery stance

And his letters to his wife during the war, talking of buying more slaves when the war was over. That's not an anti-slavery stance.

In another letter between Lee and his wife, she wrote him about buying a slave because his owner was beating him, as an act of kindness to the man. And lee soundly rejected that saying “Is everything to be yielded to the servant and nothing left to the master?” and said it would be a bad precedence to set opposing “the instruction and example that was intended for the others.” That's not an anti-slavery stance.

When Lee himself wrote a letter saying that while he was morally opposed to slavery, the “painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction." that's not an anti-slavery stance. Saying slavery is necessary is a pro-slavery stance.


And it's interesting.. With other slave owners, sometimes you see that struggle with their pro-slavery life and morality for blacks. But with Lee, time and again his writings about blacks are just hateful and sickening. From using them as human shields to saying that “It would be accidental to fall in with a good one”. Words and actions showed his dislike for that race (and other people of color).

Abolition was an "evil course" for Lee, it was clear in his writings and actions the disdain he held for blacks and in his writings and actions the pro-slavery views he kept.
 



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