Dwight Eisenhower on Lee and Secession

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K Hale

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I would like to think that Thomas would not have followed a United States he believed to be in the wrong.
And why would you think he would be a whiffet less devoted to the US than Lee was to Virginia?
 

OpnCoronet

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He does state those other assumtions, but they are not exclusive to Lee, they could just as easiy apply to any other general in either army or and probably any other army in history, for that matter.
We are not mind readers, we can only assume that those listed are the best he could come up with. So any he might have witheld, for whatever reason, can probably assigned to the 'less convincing' box.
Since the readers of Ike's letter are not mind readers, what he wrote can only be what he thought on this particular subject, at least as far as far as he wanted the readers of this particular letter to be concerned. Judgement of the contents of the letter has to be the letter itself, not what he thought in his mind, or behind closed doors.
 

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While you might argue, and obvously have, that there was a false assumption in General Ike's conclusion, that certainly doesn't preclude his having using several correct assumptions as well. One bad assumption does not necessarily a decision make. Ike didn't wind up with five stars on his shoulders making bad assumptions.
Good point. It's also entirely possible that Ike just plain misspoke. Lee did believe unswervingly in the right of Virginia to secede and his duty to follow. And Ike clearly believed that the Constitutionality of secession was an arguable issue in 1861. So I can't see Ike ripping Lee's portrait off the wall and painting horns on his head just because he expressed some doubts about it.
 
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wilber6150

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Good point. It's also entirely possible that Ike just plain misspoke. Lee did believe unswervingly in the right of Virginia to secede and his duty to follow. And Ike clearly believed that the Constitutionality of secession was an arguable issue in 1861. So I can't see Ike ripping Lee's portrait off the wall and painting horns on his head just because he expressed some doubts about it.
Im not sure I agree, when he wrote about secession to his son he didn't say except for Virginia, myself I believe he thought secession was wrong, but would follow Virginia in which ever direction it took irregardless of his own opinion on the matter.
 

brass napoleon

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Im not sure I agree, when he wrote about secession to his son he didn't say except for Virginia, myself I believe he thought secession was wrong, but would follow Virginia in which ever direction it took irregardless of his own opinion on the matter.
No doubt Lee thought secession was a bad idea, but he still believed it was a "reserved right", and he fought for that right. Kind of like those today who are willing to fight for the right of others to burn the flag, even though they themselves might think it's a deplorable act.
 

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No doubt Lee thought secession was a bad idea, but he still believed it was a "reserved right", and he fought for that right. Kind of like those today who are willing to fight for the right of others to burn the flag, even though they themselves might think it's a deplorable act.
I can agree with that :smile:
 
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OpnCoronet

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Very nice, but that is not what Lee wrote in his letter to his son. If he did think of it as a reserved right, he mispoke or was lying in the letter..
 

brass napoleon

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Very nice, but that is not what Lee wrote in his letter to his son. If he did think of it as a reserved right, he mispoke or was lying in the letter..
It was a letter to his son, not a public proclamation. I'm sure he felt no need to argue the entire issue, since his son would obviously already know what many of his positions were.

He said in testimony before Congress that he believed secession was a "reserved right", and I don't see any inconsistency between that statement and any of his other words or actions, before, during or after the war.
 

OpnCoronet

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Well, one was before the war(and its loss), the other, after the war(and the cause) had been lost.
 
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K Hale

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Well, one was before the war(and its loss), the other, after the war(and the cause) had been lost.
Since I'm sure you have some point other than stating the obvious, what IS your point?
 

OpnCoronet

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Which is more likely to be a correct represemtation of Lee's 'unswerving belief in the Constitutional validity of his cause. surprised you did not know that.
 

K Hale

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Which is more likely to be a correct represemtation of Lee's 'unswerving belief in the Constitutional validity of his cause. surprised you did not know that.
What does one statement even have to do with the other? Do you see them as contradicting one another in some way?
 
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And why would you think he would be a whiffet less devoted to the US than Lee was to Virginia?
We have Lee specifically stating that he would (paraphrased) "follow Virginia anywhere". Even if Virginia is doing something he considers wrong, he feels bound to follow. No exceptions.

In absence of such a statement from Thomas on the US, I am assuming the best - that if the US was some kind of monstrous tyranny he would not consider it worthy of his sword.

And what is a whiffet anyway?
 

K Hale

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We have Lee specifically stating that he would (paraphrased) "follow Virginia anywhere". Even if Virginia is doing something he considers wrong, he feels bound to follow. No exceptions.

In absence of such a statement from Thomas on the US, I am assuming the best - that if the US was some kind of monstrous tyranny he would not consider it worthy of his sword.
Well, what Lee said was that as a citizen of Virginia, "her laws and her acts were binding on me." Would not Thomas consider U.S. laws and acts to be binding on him?

And what is a whiffet anyway?
My new favorite word. In Three Roads to the Alamo, some little guy was described as "a mere whiffet of a man."
 

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Well, what Lee said was that as a citizen of Virginia, "her laws and her acts were binding on me." Would not Thomas consider U.S. laws and acts to be binding on him?
Its this part of the sentence: "That was my view, that the act of Virginia in withdrawing herself from the United States carried me along as a citizen of Virginia and that her laws and her acts were binding on me."

If he had said "That was my view, and when Virginia withdrew from the Union I chose to accept her laws and acts as binding upon me." or something where he says that he chose to follow Virginia's lead instead of simply being carried by the waves of the storm like flotsam from a wreck, I wouldn't be alarmed. Choosing one's loyalty is one thing. Heck, even Stuart's unconditional loyalty is still "and I would offer my services to Virginia" - in other words, I would choose to offer allegiance - but Lee's statement there is simply "I was a pawn of my state, and made no choice in the matter.

My new favorite word. In Three Roads to the Alamo, some little guy was described as "a mere whiffet of a man."
Ah. It is a nifty word. Useful, too.
 
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OpnCoronet

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Only If, Lee(and Ike) did not know Revolution was an 'illegal' act against established authority and law, can Eisenhower's estimation of Lee's action as 'arguable', be maintained.
 
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