How General Lee prevented a Lynching

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Jan 6, 2013
Buford, Georgia
Professor Graves had an extended lecture on General Lee, which I heard him deliver several times. One incident that he related impressed me—how General Lee prevented a lynching. A horse thief, a notorious character, had been captured and lodged in the Lexington jail. One night a number of men came riding into Lexington from different directions—one or two on this road, one or two on another, until a large number, some from considerable distances, had assembled. They proceeded to the jail and demanded the keys. At the head of a flight of steps, in front of a door, stood the old jailer, holding the keys to the prison above his head and pleading with the mob to refrain from violence. I think Professor Graves said that one or two prominent citizens of the town came up and appealed to the crowd to let the law take its course, without noticeable effect. The mob was angry and seemed determined upon action. A gray-bearded man was seen moving quietly about in the crowd, speaking first to one group and then another, and after a while the men on the outskirts began to walk away; then others followed, until finally the crowd was dispersed. “They could not,” concluded Professor Graves, “break the law in the face of Marse Robert.”


[1] See “Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee,” by his son, Captain Robert E. Lee, 1924, page 9.

[2] See “Lexington in Old Virginia,” by Henry Boley. 1936, pages 204, 205.
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