Dwight Eisenhower on Lee and Secession

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,610
But, if Lee did Not believe secession was Constitutionally valid, then Eisenhower's estimation of Lee is based on a false assumption; thus his estimation is wrong.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Nathanb1

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Retired Moderator
Joined
Dec 31, 2009
Messages
33,093
Location
Smack dab in the heart of Texas
I think like many other people, Lee assumed the validity of secession would be finally settled by conflict. I have seen nothing that indicates he was sure one way or the other. On the other hand, he was sure enough of his relationship to his native state to choose the CSA side, right or wrong.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Messages
10,610
"Secession is nothing but Revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacyu at will. It was intended for "perpetual union," so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissoved by revolution or by all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, not a government, by Washington, Hamilton,jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution..."(my emphasis) Ltr. from Rob't E. Lee to his son Rooney, Jan. 21, 1861
Lee goes on in the letter to bemoan secession, but cannot(or will not?) abandon Va. Clearly, Lee was making his decision almost entirely on emotion and not intellect.
 

brass napoleon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Member of the Year
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Messages
14,956
Location
Ohio
"Secession is nothing but Revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacyu at will. It was intended for "perpetual union," so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissoved by revolution or by all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, not a government, by Washington, Hamilton,jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution..."(my emphasis) Ltr. from Rob't E. Lee to his son Rooney, Jan. 21, 1861
Lee goes on in the letter to bemoan secession, but cannot(or will not?) abandon Va. Clearly, Lee was making his decision almost entirely on emotion and not intellect.
From the same letter:

Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved, and the government disrupted, I shall return to my native state and share the miseries of my people; and, save in defense, will draw my sword on none.
A life lived entirely by intellect, and not emotion, would be a pretty empty one indeed.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,321
Location
Near Kankakee
Keep building the mountain. Ike seems to have admired Lee as an honorable man, which he was, and didn't concern himself with the right or wrong of Lee's participation.
 

RobertP

Major
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
9,252
Location
Dallas
Keep building the mountain. Ike seems to have admired Lee as an honorable man, which he was, and didn't concern himself with the right or wrong of Lee's participation.
Ike apparently didn't believe there was any right or wrong concerning secession prior to the CW, as it was an unsettled question. I happen to agree.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
A life lived entirely by intellect, and not emotion, would be a pretty empty one indeed.
Speaking for myself, the problem is that Lee did not simply sacrifice "intellect" for emotion, but put his personal feelings ahead of his duty.

Ignoring the seven letter words. Lee had written that "our country" needs to the efforts of all. And then he just turned his back on that.

I think the evidence, incidentally, indicates that Lee had very mixed feelings - not that he was consciously being hypocritical.

But I really don't think we can defend his choice on any other terms than respecting his right to follow his opinion.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

brass napoleon

Colonel
Retired Moderator
Member of the Year
Honored Fallen Comrade
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Messages
14,956
Location
Ohio
But I really don't think we can defend his choice on any other terms than respecting his right to follow his opinion.
I'll go along with that, El. I do respect his opinion, and I don't think he would care a whit whether you or I or anyone else here would defend him or not. But I do think it's important, for my own personal benefit, to try to understand his decision. And I find that's really not all that hard to do.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
I'll go along with that, El. I do respect his opinion, and I don't think he would care a whit whether you or I or anyone else here would defend him or not.
Which speaks well of him. Even speaking as someone who thinks he's wrong, I have no right - as El - to claim any status where what I think of him should mean anything to him. I'd feel flattered if he did care, but that's my ego speaking, definitely not my intellect.

But I do think it's important, for my own personal benefit, to try to understand his decision. And I find that's really not all that hard to do.
Yeah. Lee made his decision for reasons that may be good, bad, or crazy, but understanding what those reasons tells us something about him - and about us (people in general).

So far as I can tell, Lee chose the path that would make him the least uncomfortable. Nothing he did - from suicide (hey, we have to mention that extreme just to emphasize the "nothing is a good choice"), staying neutral in Virginia, staying neutral and moving, joining the CSA, or staying in the US army - would be without pain and misery.

For some reason that I haven't figured out yet, "staying with Virginia" was the least painful. Mary, maybe.

But they are all pretty sucky choices given his emotional ties, and its the emotional ties that - I think - make him feel conflicted. He doesn't want to fight his country or his state. He wants to wake up and find out all of this was a hallucination brought on by bad army food.

Or something like that.
 

Ellsworth avenger

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 13, 2009
Messages
1,868
Location
Chugiak Alaska
I don't know if I agree with this, but I don't disagree with it enough to want to start an argument. What about Ike makes him one of your heroes, though?





I have a feeling I won't disagree with the reasons.
President Eisenhower's views that are still pertinent to today's world as, keep a balanced budget,military spending, and the Eisenhower doctrine of 1957, mirror my own,or stongly influenced my view. The heroe worship involves other facets of his life and record,but you may find something in these three items to compare to your own thoughts.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
I don't know enough about Eisenhower's idea of military spending to compare it to what I think. And I have mixed feelings about the idea of military intervention as a means of foreign policy.

Done well, a very admirable thing.

But I have the unhappy suspicion that Ike's intentions were nobler than the use of the concept that we can and will intervene anywhere for our purposes.

Not that this is a slight on Eisenhower, but its an unhappy consequence of any policy based on opposing the Spread of _____, with ____ being anyone else.

And I do not feel supportive of any ideology based on the idea that Communism Must be Stopped Everywhere. Not out of any fondness for the Soviet Union, but out of a distinct lack of fondness for "but he's our son of a -----" (someone's statement about a dictator during FDR's administration, I think) and preference for pro-American over democratic when there's a conflict.

But that's another story.

Eisenhower himself can sit next to Grant and Washington so far as I'm concerned.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
34,321
Location
Near Kankakee
Ike apparently didn't believe there was any right or wrong concerning secession prior to the CW, as it was an unsettled question. I happen to agree.
That's almost the way I read it Robert. I'm sure he had his opinion, but it didn't show in his letter.
 

Ellsworth avenger

Sergeant Major
Joined
Oct 13, 2009
Messages
1,868
Location
Chugiak Alaska
I don't know enough about Eisenhower's idea of military spending to compare it to what I think. And I have mixed feelings about the idea of military intervention as a means of foreign policy.

Done well, a very admirable thing.

But I have the unhappy suspicion that Ike's intentions were nobler than the use of the concept that we can and will intervene anywhere for our purposes.

Not that this is a slight on Eisenhower, but its an unhappy consequence of any policy based on opposing the Spread of _____, with ____ being anyone else.

And I do not feel supportive of any ideology based on the idea that Communism Must be Stopped Everywhere. Not out of any fondness for the Soviet Union, but out of a distinct lack of fondness for "but he's our son of a -----" (someone's statement about a dictator during FDR's administration, I think) and preference for pro-American over democratic when there's a conflict.

But that's another story.

Eisenhower himself can sit next to Grant and Washington so far as I'm concerned.
A paragraph of interest in Ike's speech to Congress 1/5/57
"Let me refer to the requested authoity to employ the armed forces of the United States to assist to defend the territorial integrity and the politcal independence of any nation against armed communist aggression,
Such authority would not be exercised , except at the desire of the nation attacked. Beyond this it is my profound hope that this authority would never be exercised at all"
:sabre:

" In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,whether sought or unsought,by the the miitary-industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

K Hale

Colonel
Civil War Photo Contest
Annual Winner
Joined
Aug 10, 2009
Messages
16,341
Location
Texas
The Facft remains, that Lee would have resigned and fought against the United States, no matter what he thought as to the legality or even the 'rightness' of Va.'s decision. His decision was not made on rational thought, but on what Va. did; no matter what.
Read what he wrote again. It's one sentence.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
If you are referring to the sentence I think you are, it raises a troublesome thought.

Did Lee really feel that he was just a pawn of Virginia? What it did, he would go with, whether that put him against law, conscience, country, good judgment, whatever?

Making the decision he did in the circumstances he did would be one thing. Contemplating if he would go with Virginia wherever it lead is...frankly extremely alarming.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
A paragraph of interest in Ike's speech to Congress 1/5/57
"Let me refer to the requested authoity to employ the armed forces of the United States to assist to defend the territorial integrity and the politcal independence of any nation against armed communist aggression,
Such authority would not be exercised , except at the desire of the nation attacked. Beyond this it is my profound hope that this authority would never be exercised at all"
:sabre:
And if that was the only sense any such authority was put to from '57 to 2000-something, it would be impossible to fault.

" In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence,whether sought or unsought,by the the miitary-industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."
Dwight D. Eisenhower
There's another quote, I don't recall the exact wording, but Ike refers to something to the effect of war taking bread from the mouths of our children.

The man may have looked "ordinary", but that face of his hid a very good (in multiple senses) brain.
 

Elennsar

Colonel
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
14,789
Location
California
What he wrote was perfectly clear.
Which statement?

Lee wrote conflicting things on the issue of secession. It seems that Virginia's unconditional hold on his loyalty overrides any of the others, but that just leaves me feeling worried.
 
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top