Discussion Frederick Douglass id's he cause of death of Robert E Lee in 1870

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Norris never gave any testimony.
According to the dictionary, "testimony" has two meanings: the first is a legal statement and the second is a public declaration. I think that a published interview qualifies as a Public Declaration.
 

Piedone

Private
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
I pondered now a lot why I felt so irritated with this thread.

Maybe it´s a question of principle:
of course we can agree that slavery is per definitionem even in it´s most benevolent form still a crime against humanity.
And maybe we can deem it right to condemn everything and everyone and every society that is connected with it.
(And many people might say "period" at that point).

But especially the case of R.E.Lee holds the chance to peer behind the curtains and to understand the whole phenomenon better.

The people of the South were on an average obviously neither more sadistic nor immoral than any other people.
But they were shaped by their society and especially shaped by slavery as much as the enslaved African Americans were.

I read a great deal about Lee and I never got the impression that he acted inconsiderately - quite to the contrary he felt (and expressed) the distinct requirement to always painstakingly comply with moral laws.
Somehow I deem it - although of that - quite possible that he let Norris and his sister be whipped - and felt this to be as right as to free the very same people afterwards and to have them provided with a pass to cross the lines into the Union (which I am also quite convinced of to have happened...).

Now...how that?

I am pretty sure that the average white Southerner never grasped that "laziness" and "drolly misunderstanding" were cunning means of resistance for enslaved people. They saw (most probably) therein RACIAL traits - found them partly amusing and because of that thought that they had to discipline and "educate" "their people".

And Lee as a most eminent educator eg. in West Point was most probably no exception in that.
After Norris´ attempt to flee from Arlington and with rising unrest under the Custis´ slaves he may very well have used that whipping as a disciplinarian measure (he most probably would have chosen very similar means against comparable insubordination and unrest in the army). But he also painstakingly followed up the clauses of his father-in-law´s will and freed Norris later - and surely felt benevolent about that.

And reading Douglass´s letter to his former "owner" creates to me an impression of a strange, somehow special relation between them, his need to demonstrate him his newly won independence reminds me somehow of a unbeloved son who just tries to find the appreciation of a distant father.

Don´t misunderstand me: I am NOT saying, that slaveownes were like fathers to their slaves.

I´d tried to show how slavery (in my opinion) - in cases where it was not just terror and pure exploitation
a) kept enslaved people tangled in a web of subsumption and obligation that led to a strange under age behaviour
b) let many (not all) slave owners perceive their own role as that of a tiresome responsibility - which was a gross misinterpretation of reality.

To paint a dichotomy of black and white (in my opinion) obscures the many detrimental repercussions slavery had on both, the white and the black people in the antebellum South.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I pondered now a lot why I felt so irritated with this thread.
If the this thread irritates you, I'd leave it be: its been my experience that few minds are really changed no matter how logical you are and no matter how much evidence you present. 🥺
 

Piedone

Private
Joined
Oct 8, 2020
If the this thread irritates you, I'd leave it be: its been my experience that few minds are really changed no matter how logical you are and no matter how much evidence you present. 🥺
Well...that is a pity...and it´s sadly true - I don´t get the point of such conversations.
Why to talk about history when there´s no real interest in history? (which at times can be a quite surprising metier...)
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Well...that is a pity...and it´s sadly true - I don´t get the point of such conversations.
Why to talk about history when there´s no real interest in history? (which at times can be a quite surprising metier...)
I think that there is an interest in history--just none in being wrong. 😂
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2011
Location
mo
I think that there is an interest in history--just none in being wrong. 😂
If not wanting to be wrong......there would be a whole lot more of honestly we don't know by authors and historians, without then interjecting a personal opinion as if they had a infallible magic eight ball :bounce:
 

A. Roy

First Sergeant
Forum Host
Joined
Sep 2, 2019
Location
Raleigh, North Carolina
Well...that is a pity...and it´s sadly true - I don´t get the point of such conversations.
Why to talk about history when there´s no real interest in history? (which at times can be a quite surprising metier...)

I participated in this thread a bit when it first started, because I thought the focus was interesting: Frederick Douglass's reaction to newspaper commentaries on the death of Robert E. Lee. But it seems to have spiraled into one of the usual ideological spitting contests.

In the first post, @2nd Dragoon pointed to an editorial by Douglass, in which he expressed his exasperation with the "nauseating flatteries of the late Robert E. Lee" appearing widely in papers at the time. The title of this thread focused on the cause of Lee's death, as propounded by Jefferson Davis and other commentators. Douglass sarcastically cites these commentators:

"... that 'he died of a broken heart.' and one journal has declared, that he died being sadly depressed at the condition of the country, that he could stand it no longer. From which we are to infer, that the liberation of four millions of slaves and their elevation to manhood, and to the enjoyment of their civil and political rights, was more than he could stand, and so he died!"

Douglass's scathing editorial can be seen here:

https://thereconstructionera.com/fr...s-the-cause-of-death-of-robert-e-lee-in-1870/
Roy B.
 
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