Lee as a Slaveholder: Reputable Primary Sources?

CowCavalry

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
That is because I don't give a flying you know what about the moral high ground. At some point in this process I expect that it will become glaringly obvious that I do not fall for straw man arguments.
The only straw man in this thread has been the equating of the horrors of American slavery in general to the personal treatment of one individual's slaves in an attempt to demonstrate or at least make it seem highly likely that he did what he denied doing.
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
"In person General Lee was a notably handsome man. He was tall of stature, and admirably proportioned ; his features were regular and most amiable in appearance, and in his manners he was courteous and dignified. In social life he was much admired. As a slaveholder, he was beloved by his slaves for his kindness and consideration toward them."

[New York Herald October 13 1870]
 

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The only straw man in this thread has been the equating of the horrors of American slavery in general to the personal treatment of one individual's slaves in an attempt to demonstrate or at least make it seem highly likely that he did what he denied doing.
You might want to look up what a straw man argument is. Your statements above meet the dictionary definition exactly.

"A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person's argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, & then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making."
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
"In person General Lee was a notably handsome man. He was tall of stature, and admirably proportioned ; his features were regular and most amiable in appearance, and in his manners he was courteous and dignified. In social life he was much admired. As a slaveholder, he was beloved by his slaves for his kindness and consideration toward them."

[New York Herald October 13 1870]
What was the newspapers source?
 

jcaesar

Private
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
Paul -There appears to be at least three Ivy League “gentlemen “ (whom I will refrain from naming) who are on an apparent mission to record their version of history. I attended a lecture last winter where one of the three “gentlemen “ spoke. After about 40 minuets I conspicuously but quietly got up and walked out. Apparently he was talking about a different Confederate General Robert E Lee than I assumed when I entered the room. Lol
The last professor I heard on Lee crafted a portrait that combined some of the more personally unsavory aspects of Nathan Bedford Forrest with Jubal Early while painting Lee as personally cowardly.

He also did a full fledged take down of him as a military commander with the argument he butchered a generation of young men in tactics that were completely out of date rather then fight a smart defensive war around Richmond.
 

CowCavalry

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 17, 2017
You might want to look up what a straw man argument is. Your statements above meet the dictionary definition exactly.

"A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person's argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, & then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making."
Correct, something like this - "Slavery was wicked and slave owners could beat their slaves, Lee was a slave owner, he must have beat his slaves"
 

jcaesar

Private
Joined
Aug 28, 2020
"In person General Lee was a notably handsome man. He was tall of stature, and admirably proportioned ; his features were regular and most amiable in appearance, and in his manners he was courteous and dignified. In social life he was much admired. As a slaveholder, he was beloved by his slaves for his kindness and consideration toward them."

[New York Herald October 13 1870]

To be fair in terms of the issue of source bias The Herald was a pro-Democrat and more Southern sympathetic newspaper while some of the others we have talked about were pro-Radical Republican.
 

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Correct, something like this - "Slavery was wicked and slave owners could beat their slaves, Lee was a slave owner, he must have beat his slaves"
Thank you for producing another example of the straw man fallacy. It isn't necessary to post any more, I did not intend the definition to be a template for further remarks.
 
Last edited:

Fairfield

Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
To be fair in terms of the issue of source bias The Herald was a pro-Democrat and more Southern sympathetic newspaper while some of the others we have talked about were pro-Radical Republican.
Its ok. Over 15 NYC newspapers ran this same piece. I guess that it was like today: there is a set obituary that everyone runs. Also, a death is no time to be negative and our forefathers were politer than we.
 

Georgia

Sergeant
The last professor I heard on Lee crafted a portrait that combined some of the more personally unsavory aspects of Nathan Bedford Forrest with Jubal Early while painting Lee as personally cowardly.

He also did a full fledged take down of him as a military commander with the argument he butchered a generation of young men in tactics that were completely out of date rather then fight a smart defensive war around Richmond.
Wonder what he would’ve said if Lee has been in the audience. It’s always easy to be critical when there’s no one there to fight.
 

Rhea Cole

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Wonder what he would’ve said if Lee has been in the audience. It’s always easy to be critical when there’s no one there to fight.
It was probably nothing compared with what the Richmond papers had to say about Davis & Lee.

Richmond Examiner

"If any candid observer is asked for the cause of our present tide of misfortune, he will be compelled to give the mortifying answer: that the Yankees have outwitted us; that they have managed their power with much more judgement; & that on just the point where the South was supposed superior to the North--that is to say, in the art of government--the Yankees have beaten us."

This is G rated compared with the shrill style of many papers.
 
Last edited:

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
It was probably nothing compared with what the Richmond papers had to say about Davis & Lee.

Richmond Examiner

"If any candid observer is asked for the cause of our present tide of misfortune, he will be compelled to give the mortifying answer: that the Yankees have outwitted us; that they have managed their power with much more judgement; & that on just the point where the South was supposed superior to the North--that is to say, in the art of government--the Yankees have beaten us."

This is G rated compared with the shrill style of many papers.
This article was printed in February 1862. It was about Davis and his second inaugural speech. Lee is not mentioned. He was elsewhere attending to coastal defenses in SC, GA, and FLA. It would be a few months before he would become a major player in the war, though those coastal defenses did hold up very well.
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
What was the newspapers source?

The newspaper is the source. Newspapers that are of the period are sometimes regarded as primary sources and sometimes as secondary ones.
The quote is from a northern newspaper (now defunct). It was said as part of an overall assessment of General Lee's character and I can see no reason or benefit to the paper for stating it [a southern newspaper may have some ulterior motive but I can see none for a New York one]. It's certainly a far superior source to opinions and contemporary articles that I have seen submitted to this thread as 'evidence'.

The OP said:
"I've a professor who undoubtedly holds the converse view, and who claimed quite a bit in reference to Lee being a "brutal and barbaric slave-owner, giving the Virginia Gentleman hand to the whites and the whip hand to people of color"."
I'm seeing no such evidence.

Did General Lee own slaves? Yes, guilty as charged.
Was General Lee a "brutal and barbaric slave-owner"? No: there is no substantial evidence to prove such a thing. In the absence of any such evidence he must be given the 'presumption of innocence' otherwise we end up in the farcical situation of the When did you stop beating your wife where an accusation is assumed to be true and the onus is on the innocent to disprove it.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
The newspaper is the source. Newspapers that are of the period are sometimes regarded as primary sources and sometimes as secondary ones.
The quote is from a northern newspaper (now defunct). It was said as part of an overall assessment of General Lee's character and I can see no reason or benefit to the paper for stating it [a southern newspaper may have some ulterior motive but I can see none for a New York one]. It's certainly a far superior source to opinions and contemporary articles that I have seen submitted to this thread as 'evidence'.
Some newspaper articles may be considered a primary source, I suppose, if the piece is written by an eyewitness. But to classify all period newspapers as a "far superior" source is questionable. Newspapers were not known then or now for being 100% accurate.
 

Quaama

Corporal
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
Some newspaper articles may be considered a primary source, I suppose, if the piece is written by an eyewitness. But to classify all period newspapers as a "far superior" source is questionable. Newspapers were not known then or now for being 100% accurate.

Yale and Harvard seem to have a different opinion to you and consider historic newspapers as either primary or secondary sources. Contemporary works (and contemporary newspapers although they are usually relegated to tertiary status) appear as secondary sources at best.
 
You might want to look up what a straw man argument is. Your statements above meet the dictionary definition exactly.

"A straw man fallacy occurs when someone takes another person's argument or point, distorts it or exaggerates it in some kind of extreme way, & then attacks the extreme distortion, as if that is really the claim the first person is making."
Rhea - excellent point! There is nothing more to be said.
 
Top