Lee and Reconstruction

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Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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I've read the thread and participated. It's pretty obvious at this point the Original Poster's premise is at least shaky and for the most part flat out wrong. I don't feel the need to participate further. Thanks to all for responding.
The premise is Lee did not do everything in his power for Reconstruction. That has been proven beyond doubt.
Edited.
 

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Harvey Johnson

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Please cite a source verifying that Lee failed to vote for the Virginia government that approved the Fifteenth Amendment.
. . . Shifting the burden fallacy. The burden is on those who claim Lee supported it. There is no evidence of Lee actually supporting it.

I understand the reluctance to continue having your sloppy handling of evidence exposed.
The only reason I'm replying is to throw the penalty flag on myself. Under terms of the Fourteenth Amendment, Lee would have been banned from voting as someone who had earlier taken an oath to defend the US constitution but later fought for the Confederacy.

Nonetheless, the evidence up-thread regarding Lee's position on the Fifteenth Amendment is contradictory and, therefore, inconclusive.
Edited.
 

matthew mckeon

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There are smart people on this thread, but the thread is not very smart.

There is a real lack of clarity as noted by several posters, and I would have to agree. And if anyone remarks that its because I didn't read the thread, or slings insults about my honesty and intelligence etc. I would reply: buddy you're doing a lousy job conveying your point. Its you, not me.

Premise: Gen. Lee didn't do everything in his power to support Reconstruction. First off, its a poorly worded premise. Who did "everything" in his power to support Reconstruction? Wouldn't it be far more illuminating to frame it: what did Lee do to help Reconstruction, what did he do to hinder Reconstruction, and what aspects of Reconstruction did he favor and what did he not favor: which is the approach his biographers take.

It begs two questions: What was in his power? Which parts of Reconstruction did he not support? Which parts did he?




In Reading the Man, Pryor depicts someone bitterly disappointed by the outcome of the war, an attitude I think would be understandable.
 

5fish

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"On political matters, Lee worked hard to SOUND reasonable, expressed approval of the Fifteenth Amendment, and professed to see no 'prodigious harm' in permitting blacks to vote." [Ron Chernow, Grant, p. 656]
There issues with this...

Lee, like many others in his day, including northerners, simply believed whites were biologically superior to blacks and, as a result, believed that the South’s peculiar institution was needed to civilize African Americans. He died a member of the Democratic Party, and campaigned against the 15th amendment (the enfranchisement of African American men) because he truly believed African Americans were simply too inferior to vote. He told Congress that, “[African Americans] could not vote intelligently.”

https://www.theecjournal.com/single-post/2017/08/19/Robert-E-Lee-The-Man-Behind-The-Statue

Lee At Congress was not being soundly for it or against it:

Question. Is there any other matter which you desire to state to the committee?

Answer. No, sir; I am ready to answer any question which you think proper to put to me.

Question. How would an amendment to the Constitution be received by the secessionists, or by the people at large, allowing the colored people or certain classes of them to exercise the right of voting at elections?

Answer. I think, so far as I can form an opinion, in such an event they would object.

Question. They would object to such an amendment?

Answer. Yes, sir.

Question. Suppose an amendment should, nevertheless, be adopted, conferring on the blacks the right of suffrage, would that, in your opinion, lead to scenes of violence and breaches of the peace between the two races in Virginia?

Answer. I think it would excite unfriendly feelings between the two races. I cannot pretend to say to what extent it would go, but that would be the result.

Question. Are you acquainted with the proposed amendment now pending in the Senate of the United States?

Answer. No, sir; I am not. I scarcely ever read a paper. [The substance of the pro- posed amendment was here explained to the witness by Mr. CONKLING.] So far as I can see, I do not think the State of Virginia would object to it.

Question. Would she consent, under any circumstances, to allow the black people to vote, even if she were to gain a larger number of representatives in Congress?

Answer. That would depend upon her interests. If she had the right of determining that, I do not see why she should object. If it were to her interest to admit these people to vote, that might overrule any other objection that she had to it.

Question. What, in your opinion, would be the practical result? Do you think that Virginia would consent to allow the negro to vote?

Answer. I think that, at present, she would accept the smaller representation. I do not know what the future may develop. If it should be plain to her that these persons will vote properly and understandingly, she might admit them to vote.


Here a book again all Lee said was the state would except the 15th amendment... I do not see where Chernow got his info...

https://books.google.com/books?id=E... Lee for the fifteenth amendment 1869&f=false
 

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There are smart people on this thread, but the thread is not very smart.

There is a real lack of clarity as noted by several posters, and I would have to agree. And if anyone remarks that its because I didn't read the thread, or slings insults about my honesty and intelligence etc. I would reply: buddy you're doing a lousy job conveying your point. Its you, not me.

Premise: Gen. Lee didn't do everything in his power to support Reconstruction. First off, its a poorly worded premise. Who did "everything" in his power to support Reconstruction? Wouldn't it be far more illuminating to frame it: what did Lee do to help Reconstruction, what did he do to hinder Reconstruction, and what aspects of Reconstruction did he favor and what did he not favor: which is the approach his biographers take.

It begs two questions: What was in his power? Which parts of Reconstruction did he not support? Which parts did he?




In Reading the Man, Pryor depicts someone bitterly disappointed by the outcome of the war, an attitude I think would be understandable.
The fact that he made no less than three public statements directly opposed to Congressional Reconstruction shows conclusively he didn't do everything in his power for Reconstruction. Doing everything in his power for Reconstruction includes publicly supporting its objectives.
 
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If General Lee uses the words "disposed of" with respect to African/Americans that appears to me to endorse political terrorism with potentially lethal consequences. But that is just my take.
 

WJC

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Hey, Reb.

Perhaps like me you find it odd that after six pages of comments condemning Lee of failing to support Reconstruction that nobody mentions his May 1869 meeting with President Grant when he pledged to support the Fifteenth Amendment granting the vote to adult black males in all the states.
Tell us more....
 

WJC

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If it should be plain to her that these persons will vote properly and understandingly, she might admit them to vote.
Thanks for posting this information.
Regarding this particular quote, one wonders what is meant by voting "properly and understandingly". That sounds, at least without further explanation, as the underlying basis used by Southern states to restrict or deny the vote to Blacks during the following hundred years.
 

5fish

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Here is another view Lee had after the war just move on...

Summary: The paper prints Robert E. Lee's note declining an invitation to join officers on the battlefield of Gettysburg to mark troop positions for posterity. Lee and a number of Democratic newspapers believe that the battle of Gettysburg and the strife accompanying the Civil War are best left forgotten.

Full Text of Article:
The widely heralded meeting of the officers, (U.S and Confederate,) who took part in the battle of Gettysburg, to mark the operations of both armies on the field, by enduring memorials of granite, has proven, as many expected a great farce. But few of the prominent Northern officers were present and only two Confederate officers of minor grades. The Hotel man did not make as much as he expected, when he got up the idea.

Gen. Lee was invited and forwarded the following reply:

Lexington, VA., August 5, 1869.

Dear Sir--Absence from Lexington has prevented my receiving until to-day your letter of the 26th ult., inclosing an invitation from the Gettysburg Battle-field Memorial Association, to attend a meeting of the officers engaged in that battle at Gettysburg, for the purpose of marking upon the ground by enduring memorials of granite the positions and movements of the armies on the field. My engagements will not permit me to be present. I believe if there, I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject. I think it wiser, moreover, not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered. Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee.

The New York Herald and other Northern papers were down on perpetuating the memory of Gettysburg. The Democratic Watchman, (Pa.) expresses their sentiments in short, which for its succinctness and pith, we copy below:

"Another big fuss at Gettysburg. A lot of officers are there for the purpose of fixing definitely the positions occupied by the troops on the first day's battle. Better take Gen. Lee's advise and let the darned thing die out of remembrance."

http://www2.vcdh.virginia.edu/saxon...day=03&edition=rv1869/va.au.rv.1869.09.03.xml
 

5fish

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@Copperhead-mi summary to the article... the votes were taken...

The constitution, which provided for universal manhood suffrage, finally went to voters on July 6, 1869, and was passed. A provision that disenfranchised former Confederates was submitted to voters separately and was defeated. On October 8, 1869, Virginia voted to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as part of the requirement for being readmitted to the Union. The act readmitting Virginia to the Union and its representatives into Congress was signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on January 26, 1870. This ended the era of Reconstruction in Virginia.

http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/Civil-War/Reconstruction.htm
 
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That is evidence that Grant's comments were persuasive and Lee changed his position. Then Lee's comments on the disenfranchisement provisions, that they should be separated from the rest of the Constitution, were also persuasive. That is in accord with much of the history of the time, in which everyone was adjusting to changing circumstances.
 

Saruman

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The New York Herald must have thought Lee was setting a good example during Reconstruction. They proposed him as the Democratic candidate for President in 1868 (notwithstanding that Lee had not been restored to citizenship and was not even eligible to run):

"We will recommend a candidate for [the Democratic Party's] favors. Let it nominate General R.E. Lee. Let it boldly take over the best of all its soldiers, making no palaver or apology. He is a better soldier than any of those they have thought upon and a greater man."

"For this soldier, with a handful of men whom he had moulded into an army, baffled our greater Northern armies for four years; and when opposed by Grant was only worn down by that solid strategy of stupidity that accomplishes its object by mere weight."
 

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