Lee and Longstreet post war relationship

GwilymT

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
I posted this a few months ago, but I think it merits repeating for this thread.

In 1867 Longstreet was living in New Orleans and in June of that year he announced his intention of working with the Republicans to restore Louisiana to the Union through their power. Longstreet wrote a letter to Lee asking for Lee's endorsement.

Lee responded by letter to Longstreet and I quote the response as it appears in Clifford Dowdey's book "Lee - A Biography".
"While I think we should act under the law and according to the law imposed upon us, I cannot think the course pursued by the dominant political party the best for the interests of the country, and therefore cannot say so, or give them my approval. This is the reason why I cannot comply with the request in your letter. I am of the opinion that all who can should vote for the most intelligent, honest, and conscientious man eligible for the office, irrespective of former party opinions, who will endeavor "to pass laws" as beneficial as possible to the interests, prosperity, and liberty of all classes and conditions of the people."

IMO, Lee was stating in a very nice way, his disapproval of the scalawags and carpetbaggers that infested much of the South in the post war years.
Do we have any of the text of Longstreet’s letter? This is very interesting. I read it as Lee stating that while he cannot advise Longstreet becoming a Republican he is whole heartedly endorsing democracy under the laws then in place. As you quoted Lee:

“ I am of the opinion that all who can should vote for the most intelligent, honest, and conscientious man eligible for the office, irrespective of former party opinions, who will endeavor "to pass laws" as beneficial as possible to the interests, prosperity, and liberty of all classes and conditions of the people."”

The White League acted directly contrary to Lee’s advice.
 

Paul Yancey

Sergeant
Joined
Jan 13, 2019
Location
Kentucky
Do we have any of the text of Longstreet’s letter? This is very interesting. I read it as Lee stating that while he cannot advise Longstreet becoming a Republican he is whole heartedly endorsing democracy under the laws then in place. As you quoted Lee:

“ I am of the opinion that all who can should vote for the most intelligent, honest, and conscientious man eligible for the office, irrespective of former party opinions, who will endeavor "to pass laws" as beneficial as possible to the interests, prosperity, and liberty of all classes and conditions of the people."”

The White League acted directly contrary to Lee’s advice.
I do not know if the letter Longstreet wrote to Lee still exists. But in his reply Lee clearly states that "I cannot think the course pursued by the dominant political party the best for the interests of the country..."
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Do we have any of the text of Longstreet’s letter? This is very interesting. I read it as Lee stating that while he cannot advise Longstreet becoming a Republican he is whole heartedly endorsing democracy under the laws then in place. As you quoted Lee:

“ I am of the opinion that all who can should vote for the most intelligent, honest, and conscientious man eligible for the office, irrespective of former party opinions, who will endeavor "to pass laws" as beneficial as possible to the interests, prosperity, and liberty of all classes and conditions of the people."”

The White League acted directly contrary to Lee’s advice.
So did Longstreet.
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
Could you possibly be referring to the traitors who waged a war against the US then wanting to plead victumhood and the protection of US law (which they freely disavowed) for their situation? Silly. US law didn’t allow those who hadn’t taken the oath of allegiance to vote. It allowed any other citizens, including (gasp) black Americans to vote as long as they hadn’t rebelled. It’s quite clear. No one was disenfranchised who hadn’t disenfranchised themselves. Anyone had ample opportunity to re-enfranchise themselves. Play stupid games and win stupid prizes.
Iron Clad Oath by the Radical Republicans, and even Lincoln pocket vetoed it.
 

Florida Rebel

Private
Joined
May 31, 2019
I doubt that many of us are going to change our longstanding opinions of the war and the people who fought in it. At the same time, I have become very disappointed with today's revisionists who feel a need (why???) to disparage Lee as well as the southern cause for freedom. Sadly, in too many cases they have succeeded. Edited As for Lee and Longstreet's relationship, I think Lee liked "old Pete" more than Pete liked the great General. And as time passed after the war, I have to believe Lee felt more and more removed from his subordinate as he had to know what Longstreet's pure thoughts were. It had to hurt and bother Lee a lot more than any of us would have thought. But would he ever say anything publicly about it? NO. Robert E. Lee had too much class and dignity to ever do that.
 
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uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
As you point out, some former Confederates adopted terrorism after the war. This made it dangerous for anyone to speak out.

Radical Republican Rule was a form of Terrorism. Military Rule. Canceling Civil Authority. These were States in the Union, or were they? Excluding White Southerners from Voting. While raising Property Taxes. Sounds like taxation without representation. Could this be what Lee was talking about? Having a dominate Yankee Party, Republican in control of the South? Especially a Party that was a Anti Southern Party, controlled by radical Republicans who wanted to destroy the South. Democrats had the Klan. Republicans had the Federal Government and Military. The South was Out Klaned.
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Long Island, NY
Radical Republican Rule was a form of Terrorism. Military Rule. Canceling Civil Authority. These were States in the Union, or were they? Excluding White Southerners from Voting. While raising Property Taxes. Sounds like taxation without representation. Could this be what Lee was talking about? Having a dominate Yankee Party, Republican in control of the South? Especially a Party that was a Anti Southern Party, controlled by radical Republicans who wanted to destroy the South. Democrats had the Klan. Republicans had the Federal Government and Military. The South was Out Klaned.
Can you point to a law that bars whites from voting? Disqualifications of certain Confederates is not the same as a racial ban. Unlike pre-Reconstruction bans on Blacks voting.
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
I doubt that many of us are going to change our longstanding opinions of the war and the people who fought in it. At the same time, I have become very disappointed with today's revisionists who feel a need (why???) to disparage Lee as well as the southern cause for freedom. Sadly, in too many cases they have succeeded. The evidence is what we see in VA today with many Lee monuments and statues being vandalized and removed as well as a new movement at Washington and Lee Univ. to change the school name. That's very sad to me. As for Lee and Longstreet's relationship, I think Lee liked "old Pete" more than Pete liked the great General. And as time passed after the war, I have to believe Lee felt more and more removed from his subordinate as he had to know what Longstreet's pure thoughts were. It had to hurt and bother Lee a lot more than any of us would have thought. But would he ever say anything publicly about it? NO. Robert E. Lee had too much class and dignity to ever do that.
How can people who fight for slavery and post war for racial discrimination be fighting for freedom,?
Leftyhunter
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
It's also a bit hypocritical to believe freedom and dent it to others because they look different.
Leftyhunter
Racial descrimination was happening on both sides of the Mason Dixson. Jan 20 1838 Pennsylvania constitution was amended to being restricted to only 'White freemen' where as before some blacks could vote. New Jersey made similar amendments.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
Racial descrimination was happening on both sides of the Mason Dixson. Jan 20 1838 Pennsylvania constitution was amended to being restricted to only 'White freemen' where as before some blacks could vote. New Jersey made similar amendments.
My point is simply it's hypocritical for Southern whites to claim they were fighting for freedom when denying it to others. Yes there was discrimination in the North but African Americans could vote in the North well before they could in the South and no Southern state granted Civil Rights to people of color on its own accord after Reconstruction and before the ACW.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
You would have to take that one up with the Federal Government at that time.
The federal government was always heavily influenced by Southern whites until the ACW. The Thirteenth Amendment did pass in 1865 so the federal government did something about slavery.
If the Confedracy truly believed in equality it could of led the way but it didn't.
Leftyhunter
 

Stone in the wall

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2017
Location
Blue Ridge Mountains, Jefferson County WV
My point is simply it's hypocritical for Southern whites to claim they were fighting for freedom when denying it to others. Yes there was discrimination in the North but African Americans could vote in the North well before they could in the South and no Southern state granted Civil Rights to people of color on its own accord after Reconstruction and before the ACW.
Leftyhunter
Lefty, What we are talking about has nothing to do with Lee-Longstreet . I'll pm you
 

rpkennedy

Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
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May 18, 2011
Location
Carlisle, PA
I doubt that many of us are going to change our longstanding opinions of the war and the people who fought in it. At the same time, I have become very disappointed with today's revisionists who feel a need (why???) to disparage Lee as well as the southern cause for freedom. Sadly, in too many cases they have succeeded. The evidence is what we see in VA today with many Lee monuments and statues being vandalized and removed as well as a new movement at Washington and Lee Univ. to change the school name. That's very sad to me. As for Lee and Longstreet's relationship, I think Lee liked "old Pete" more than Pete liked the great General. And as time passed after the war, I have to believe Lee felt more and more removed from his subordinate as he had to know what Longstreet's pure thoughts were. It had to hurt and bother Lee a lot more than any of us would have thought. But would he ever say anything publicly about it? NO. Robert E. Lee had too much class and dignity to ever do that.
I would argue that the revisionists are trying to achieve a more balanced view of Robert E. Lee. Of course, these critiques are in sharp contrast to the fauning adoration and near worship that dominated 100+ years of Civil War historiography so they are often accused of being overly harsh.

Ryan
 

Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
I would argue that the revisionists are trying to achieve a more balanced view of Robert E. Lee. Of course, these critiques are in sharp contrast to the fauning adoration and near worship that dominated 100+ years of Civil War historiography so they are often accused of being overly harsh.

Ryan
What revisionist would you be speaking of ?
 
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