Lee as a Slaveholder: Reputable Primary Sources?

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
It isn't up to @DanSBHawk (or any of us) to qualify a Primary Source; that is the task of the OP. All we can do is point him towards them. None us has the ability to know what he will (or will not) credit--nor should he be dependent on any of our assessments.
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
It isn't up to @DanSBHawk (or any of us) to qualify a Primary Source; that is the task of the OP. All we can do is point him towards them. None us has the ability to know what he will (or will not) credit--nor should he be dependent on any of our assessments.

I know exactly what a professor will credit as a primary source. I assure no professor with tenure will believe that letter Lee wrote is a primary source. He or she will dismiss it as a revised reprinted letter nor will they accept Lee testifying for himself. A professor will always go with the probabilities because it appears this theme is limited to very little certainties. The "probability" leans in the favor that Lee had those slaves whipped, that's because slave owners whipped slaves. When there are no certainties, historians deal in probabilities. That professor is never going to believe that argument that Lee had pristine character that stopped him from whipping slaves. The OP stated firmly that his professor thought Lee was a barbaric slave owner, so the OP needs some overwhelming evidence, which nobody in this thread provided. That is how historians are trained at the university, its called historian craft. What was the average punishment for slaves who were runaways and were caught? The OP does have the slaves testimony or interview, no matter if people on the internet think its overrated. The slaves word vs. Lee's word. A total impasse. But the probability suggests that slaves were punished for being a runaway, so the OP's professor is going to believe the probability that Lee whipped those slaves.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I know exactly what a professor will credit as a primary source. I assure no professor with tenure will believe that letter Lee wrote is a primary source. He or she will dismiss it as a revised reprinted letter nor will they accept Lee testifying for himself. A professor will always go with the probabilities because it appears this theme is limited to very little certainties. The "probability" leans in the favor that Lee had those slaves whipped, that's because slave owners whipped slaves. When there are no certainties, historians deal in probabilities. That professor is never going to believe that argument that Lee had pristine character that stopped him from whipping slaves. The OP stated firmly that his professor thought Lee was a barbaric slave owner, so the OP needs some overwhelming evidence, which nobody in this thread provided. That is how historians are trained at the university, its called historian craft. What was the average punishment for slaves who were runaways and were caught? The OP does have the slaves testimony or interview, no matter if people on the internet think its overrated. The slaves word vs. Lee's word. A total impasse. But the probability suggests that slaves were punished for being a runaway, so the OP's professor is going to believe the probability that Lee whipped those slaves.
I am keenly aware of what is primary and what isn't. I also know that the terms "primary" and "secondary" refer to the source of information and not to its accuracy. The OP asked for sources, not evidence.

For example, Revolutionary War Pension Applications are primary. They were written by the veteran himself about his own war career. The problem is that such applications have often been proved to be fraudulent. This doesn't change the fact that they are primary--some are inaccurate as well as being primary.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
"The payment for dealing with Norris was six times higher than the previous years payments to recover fugitive slaves."

The other slaves were just across the river in Washington, DC. Lee even knew the house where they were staying. The Norris group was caught near the PA line. It took a lot more time and effort to bring them back.

Take a look at those 1850s receipts for whipping slaves. Would that cause the bill to be six times higher?...or would things like travel, lodging, food, feed for horses, etc, be the cause?
Do you have a source that breaks down the constables costs for Norris or is this an assumption? The typical amount Lee paid for a recovered slave was $10. He paid over $300 for the constable to deal with Norris.
 

Quaama

Sergeant
Joined
Sep 13, 2020
Location
Port Macquarie, Australia
I know exactly what a professor will credit as a primary source. I assure no professor with tenure will believe that letter Lee wrote is a primary source. He or she will dismiss it as a revised reprinted letter nor will they accept Lee testifying for himself. A professor will always go with the probabilities because it appears this theme is limited to very little certainties. The "probability" leans in the favor that Lee had those slaves whipped, that's because slave owners whipped slaves. When there are no certainties, historians deal in probabilities. That professor is never going to believe that argument that Lee had pristine character that stopped him from whipping slaves. The OP stated firmly that his professor thought Lee was a barbaric slave owner, so the OP needs some overwhelming evidence, which nobody in this thread provided. That is how historians are trained at the university, its called historian craft. What was the average punishment for slaves who were runaways and were caught? The OP does have the slaves testimony or interview, no matter if people on the internet think its overrated. The slaves word vs. Lee's word. A total impasse. But the probability suggests that slaves were punished for being a runaway, so the OP's professor is going to believe the probability that Lee whipped those slaves.

Seems odd that Lee's written words can not be accepted yet the Norris statement (which clearly contains falsehoods) is accepted.
Probably more a sign of the times rather than rigorous academic standards.
 

19thGeorgia

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Do you have a source that breaks down the constables costs for Norris or is this an assumption? The typical amount Lee paid for a recovered slave was $10. He paid over $300 for the constable to deal with Norris.
"The typical amount Lee paid for a recovered slave was $10."

Lee never said the 'typical amount' for the return of a slave was $10. That was the reward for the slaves who were found a few miles across the river in Washington. The others were found near the MD-PA line.
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
I am keenly aware of what is primary and what isn't. I also know that the terms "primary" and "secondary" refer to the source of information and not to its accuracy. The OP asked for sources, not evidence.

For example, Revolutionary War Pension Applications are primary. They were written by the veteran himself about his own war career. The problem is that such applications have often been proved to be fraudulent. This doesn't change the fact that they are primary--some are inaccurate as well as being primary.

Keenly aware? Or maybe mildly aware is more appropriate? You stated this: The OP asked for sources, not evidence. The OP stated this: Can anyone here provide me reputable primary sources? Reputable primary sources equate to evidence.
(www.lib.uci.edu › what-are-primary-sources).

I'm not talking about someone who frauded or forged an application, and they have the fraud on an original document. Of course that's a primary document. You are confusing the content of an original document with an actual original document. I'm talking about people who don't post original documents, and post newspaper & letter reprints and try to pass them off as primary documents. And that does not qualify as a primary document. Do you understand that I'm saying?
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
Seems odd that Lee's written words can not be accepted yet the Norris statement (which clearly contains falsehoods) is accepted.
Probably more a sign of the times rather than rigorous academic standards.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but not everyone thinks Lee had perfect character that he would have never lied. The OP already stated that his professor doesn't think highly of Lee, so a letter that Lee wrote denying he whipped slaves would be implausible. Just because you and some other members are fixated with Lee's purported sterling character and believe every he said does not mean everyone else believes it. My purpose for even posting in this thread was to help the OP in his historiography plight, not to pick sides and complain that it is an injustice that some people don't feel exactly the way I do. I personally don't have a strong opinion about Lee either way. I don't think he was a devil nor do I believe he was a saint. I'll leave it at that...
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Keenly aware? Or maybe mildly aware is more appropriate? You stated this: The OP asked for sources, not evidence. The OP stated this: Can anyone here provide me reputable primary sources? Reputable primary sources equate to evidence.
(www.lib.uci.edu › what-are-primary-sources).

I'm not talking about someone who frauded or forged an application, and they have the fraud on an original document. Of course that's a primary document. You are confusing the content of an original document with an actual original document. I'm talking about people who don't post original documents, and post newspaper & letter reprints and try to pass them off as primary documents. And that does not qualify as a primary document. Do you understand that I'm saying?
No, I'm afraid that I don't. A document is primary because of its immediacy. The very same document may contain both primary and secondary information. The primariness and secondariness is based on the immediacy of the informant--and not upon the format of the information. If the user (historian, genealogist, historical researcher) judges that a certain piece is unreliable, than s/he treats it as doctored. In an extreme example, someone may be a flawed person--but this does not impact the fact that s/he is still a person.

A "reputable primary source" does not equate to evidence. They are not one in the same. If your argument is that the original--and only the original--document is primary, than historical and genealogical research is going to ground to a halt.

Your internet definition is good--you should read it. .
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I've been doing some online research on the Anti-Slavery Standard because I've not heard that it was a "smear" paper. It was the written organ of the Anti-Slavery Society of Pennsylvania and appears to have been well-regarded (albeit with an abolitionist leaning). Rather than smearing others, it seems to have been (itself) the target of some pretty nasty attacks--largely because its co-editor was a woman . Its full archives are available to institutions by subscription; it is also utilized by Chronicling American--a historical database not known for using "smear" rags.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).

GwilymT

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
I'm sure Lee did, he held out hope that cooler heads would prevail and avoid secession. He would have grasped at almost any compromise that would have prevented secession and war.
But certainly not one that would put the future of slavery at risk.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
But certainly not one that would put the future of slavery at risk.
That's true. Lee was still working the Custis slaves at that point. He wanted his daughters to get their money from the will, and he preferred to work the slaves for profit rather than sell off any land.
 

Fairfield

First Sergeant
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
He didn't sell off that land. Smith Island--specifically named--was still in his possession 10 years later according to deed research. And, when he finally did sell it, it was to his sons. It must have been that marvelous Smith Island Cake that wooed the general away from the Straight-and-Narrow. 😂
 
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