The Civil War: Conflicted Loyalties of Robert E. Lee

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OpnCoronet

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I would like to address this.

It seems to me that Lee was quite good at keeping his subordinate commanders in line, he was quite tactful in quietly removing those he deemed unable from the ANV in 1862 and indeed throughout the war. One of the reasons that Lee was well able to deal with subordinates was that he remained above much of the mud flinging that went on at the lower levels, and actually worked to help end conflicts between subordinates.
Of course, victories would probably help as well along these lines.

Lee was quite good in shielding himself, from having to make difficult choices in his personal relationships with difficult, obdurant or faltering subordinates.
But, in fact, what historical evidence that is available indicates he would not have been very successful outside of Va., if for no other reason than he did not think so either, i.e., self-fulfilling prophecy?
 

godofredus

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Wow imagine that. BTW did George Washington own any slaves?
Either you are being sarcastic or are in total ignorance. George Washington owned many slaves as did his wife, Martha.
He freed all the ones he owned at his death, he asked Martha free all hers at her death. She freed them sooner, before she died. It is one of the reasons Mt. Vernon went to hell.
Jefferson, of course, was notorious for dying bankrupt, and freeing only five of his slaves. All the others (I think about 190) were sold. It caused a lot of anger in Charlottesville because some of them were related to various white families.
And many of them had lived there all their lives and were known very well in the town. A lot of families were broken up in this sale, some of them forever.
There are numerous sources for this, even Wiki....
 
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Diana9

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I've never read anything in any of Lee's letters or writings or in his biographies that made him any more than seeing slavery as a necessary evil, certainly I don't recall anything about slavery entering in his personal decision to go with Virginia, could you please provide sources that might state otherwise?

By virtue of the fact that the states seceded to preserve slavery, his joining the Confederacy placed him on the pro-slavery side. He certainly wasn't ignorant of that fact.

Lee's letter to his wife makes it clear where his sympathies lie:

Robert E. Lee letter dated December 27, 1856:

I was much pleased the with President's message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. The consequences of their plans and purposes are also clearly set forth. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influences of Christianity than from the storm and tempest of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of human slavery is still onward, and give it the aid of our prayers, let us leave the progress as well as the results in the hands of Him who, chooses to work by slow influences, and with whom a thousand years are but as a single day. Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor, -still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course. . . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

 
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godofredus

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We are going round and round here. Lee joined the Confederacy. That made him a suporter of slavery, even if he never said anything explicitly against it. Lee regarded Black people as inferior to white people - therfe are many sources substantiating this. His view of slavery as "a necessary evil," is often quoted.

Lee on Slavery[edit]
The quotation from Lee's 1856 letter on slavery is selective, and so presented is deceptive about Lee's views on slavery. The letter from which it is taken is not a condemnation of slavery; it's a condemnation of abolitionism, and Lee's comment on the "evil" of slavery is followed by claims that it is a necessary evil, that it is worse for the white slavers than for the Black slaves, and that the "painful discipline" of slavery is necessary for Blacks' "instruction as a race". (For more on Lee and slavery, see Robert E. Lee owned slaves.)

Here is the Lee quote put into proper context:

In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise God.
I have supplemented the quote so as to add the context of Lee's remarks, and to add the citation of the source.


http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Robert_E._Lee

How clear can you be? And don't tell me Abraham Lincoln believed Black people were inferior.
Later: Sorry, didn't realize Diana had sourced and quoted the entire letter.
But I feel like Barney Frank, arguing with defenders of Robert E. Lee is like arguing with furniture.
 

SouthernRebel772

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By virtue of the fact that the states seceded to preserve slavery, his joining the Confederacy placed him on the pro-slavery side. He certainly wasn't ignorant of that fact.
Diana9
The original post that I referenced said that Lee "wanted to preserve slavery that's why he joined the CSA." It is quite clear that Lee seceded not for slavery but for Virginia, and it can be argued that Virginia itself did not secede for slavery. The discussion here is on why LEE chose to go with the South, not why the various Southern States seceded.

Godofredus
You are essentially saying that every southerner who fought for the South in the Civil War is guilty of wanting to preserve slavery, that is a gross generalization and as ridiculous as neo-confederates saying that slavery had "nothing" to do with the war. You are making them guilty by association, which is a false argument.
 
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SouthernRebel772

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We are going round and round here. Lee joined the Confederacy. That made him a suporter of slavery, even if he never said anything explicitly against it. Lee regarded Black people as inferior to white people - therfe are many sources substantiating this. His view of slavery as "a necessary evil," is often quoted.

Lee on Slavery[edit]
The quotation from Lee's 1856 letter on slavery is selective, and so presented is deceptive about Lee's views on slavery. The letter from which it is taken is not a condemnation of slavery; it's a condemnation of abolitionism, and Lee's comment on the "evil" of slavery is followed by claims that it is a necessary evil, that it is worse for the white slavers than for the Black slaves, and that the "painful discipline" of slavery is necessary for Blacks' "instruction as a race". (For more on Lee and slavery, see Robert E. Lee owned slaves.)

Here is the Lee quote put into proper context:

In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise God.
I have supplemented the quote so as to add the context of Lee's remarks, and to add the citation of the source.


http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Robert_E._Lee

How clear can you be? And don't tell me Abraham Lincoln believed Black people were inferior.

I don't know how much clearer I can be, I'm not suggesting Lee wasn't racist, I'm just saying that Lee didn't join the Confederacy over Slavery :frantic::furious::banghead::sleep:
 

Diana9

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The original post that I referenced said that Lee "wanted to preserve slavery that's why he joined the CSA." It is quite clear that Lee seceded not for slavery but for Virginia, and it can be argued that Virginia itself did not secede for slavery. The discussion here is on why LEE chose to go with the South, not why the various Southern States seceded.

To simply state that every southerner who fought for the South in the Civil War is guilty of wanting to preserve slavery is a gross generalization and as ridiculous as neo-confederates saying that slavery had "nothing" to do with the war. You are making him guilty by association, which is a false argument.
I said nothing about "every southerner," I said it about Lee.

Read his letter (posted above) and his mindset becomes abundantly clear. In his rationale slavery was God's Providence, i.e. God's Will. He defined the white man as the slave's protector, instructor, doing God's work of Christianizing the heathen. In his warped logic he placed abolitionists on the side of evil, since by opposing slavery they were working against God's will, who alone will decide when the slaves should be freed, in his own good time ("a day is as a thousand years"). If you don't see that he was pro-slavery in his letter, and that this would have had an influence on his decision to fight for the seceding South, it can only be because you don't want to.
 
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SouthernRebel772

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I said nothing about "every southerner," I said it about Lee.

Read his letter (posted above) and his mindset becomes abundantly clear. In his rationale slavery was God's Providence, i.e. God's Will. He defined the white man as the slave's protector, instructor, doing God's work of Christianizing the heathen. In his warped logic he placed abolitionists on the side of evil -- by opposing slavery they were working against God's will, who alone will decide when the slaves should be freed, in his own good time. If you don't see that in his letter it can only be because you don't want to.

I was not saying that you said "every southerner," I apologize for the confusion, the second part of my post is directed towards godofredus.
 
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jgoodguy

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Please keep to the topic and either start a new thread on Lee and Slavery or resurrect one of the other threads. IMHO a poster did a drive by post and left the area, leaving others to fight over his post.
 

Diana9

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Diana9
The original post that I referenced said that Lee "wanted to preserve slavery that's why he joined the CSA." It is quite clear that Lee seceded not for slavery but for Virginia, and it can be argued that Virginia itself did not secede for slavery. The discussion here is on why LEE chose to go with the South, not why the various Southern States seceded.
The thread is about "Lee's Conflicted Loyalties." What was he conflicted about? To restrict the parameters of the discussion to a choice between the "Union or Virginia" conveniently ignores the slavery issue, which was integral to why there even was a Confederacy for him to join.
 

Diana9

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I don't know how much clearer I can be, I'm not suggesting Lee wasn't racist, I'm just saying that Lee didn't join the Confederacy over Slavery :frantic::furious::banghead::sleep:
The Confederacy was formed in defense of the institution slavery. It's only logical that when he joined the Confederacy he was agreeing to fight for their cause, which was slavery. To say slavery had no part in his decision ignores these facts.
 
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jgoodguy

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The thread is about "Lee's Conflicted Loyalties." What was he conflicted about? To restrict the parameters of the discussion to a choice between the "Union or Virginia" conveniently ignores the slavery issue, which was integral to why there even was a Confederacy for him to join.
I am sure that someone could hijack a thread about blue jeans in the ACW, point out that indigo color was from Indigofera tinctoria and that slaves picked and processed it in the antebellum South and associate Lee with it somehow. However that is still hijacking and off topic.

Please stay on topic.
 

SouthernRebel772

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The Confederacy was formed in defense of the institution slavery. It's only logical that when he joined the Confederacy he was agreeing to fight for their cause, which was slavery. To say slavery had no part in his decision ignores these facts.
Once again, you are marking Lee guilty by association, which is a faulty argument. Now, as the moderator has asked us to refrain from talking more on this subject, I suggest you make a new thread if you wish to carry on a debate along these lines.

Respectfully yours,

Southern
 
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godofredus

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**deleted** I really did not say EVERY southerner fought over slavery. I will say tho, that by the middle of the war (1863) MOST - both Northerners and Southerners - were fighting over slavery. See the latest: Freedom National. See: What this cruel war was over. See Lee himself - which is what I thought this thread was about.
And if you are accusing me of a false argument of guilt by association, I can say you have committed the fallacy of a reductio ad absurdum which is not an argument at all.

As moderator jgoodguy:edited for inappropriate content.
 
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SouthernRebel772

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Although this topic is thankfully closed and I can stop arguing with furniture, I really did not say EVERY southerner fought over slavery. I will say tho, that by the middle of the war (1863) MOST - both Northerners and Southerners - were fighting over slavery. See the latest: Freedom National. See: What this cruel war was over. See Lee himself - which is what I thought this thread was about.
And if you are accusing me of a false argument of guilt by association, I can say you have committed the fallacy of a reductio ad absurdum which is not an argument at all.
You said,

"We are going round and round here. Lee joined the Confederacy. That made him a suporter of slavery, even if he never said anything explicitly against it. Lee regarded Black people as inferior to white people - therfe are many sources substantiating this. His view of slavery as "a necessary evil," is often quoted."

If joining the Confederacy made someone a supporter of the institution of slavery, then almost every Southerner by your statement would fit the bill. You have applied guilt by association.
 
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