The Trial That Didn’t Happen -- Did Robert E. Lee commit treason?


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#23
I think most people can tell the difference between a war and a criminal felony. And most people knew what side Colonel Lee had fought for. So it was treason in plain sight.
The loyal West Pointers in the US army, and the loyal commanders in the US navy had seen enough.
They had definitely had enough of politicians and flaming rhetoric. The example could be instructive, if we would allow that. :balanced:
Seems to me like you can't prove it cause no one else ever has proved it. But you are entitled to an opinion.
 
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#24
:D Legally not guilty. Many people that are legally not guilty are far from innocent by any judgement based on common sense.
General Grant held Lee at McLean's house long enough so that there was no possible escape for the Confederate army.
At the point he could have been prosecutor, jury and executioner, and he declined those roles. :roflmao:
He didn't have a choice per President Lincoln.
 

cash

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#27
You stated, "legally undetermined" That's not true. It is absolute fact, Robert E. Lee was NEVER convicted of treason. Therefore, it is not undetermined. He is legally, innocent/not guilty period.
Lee applied for pardon, which means he was admitting his guilt. The legal theory of the time was that one didn't need to be pardoned if one wasn't guilty.
 

Viper21

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#28
Lee applied for pardon, which means he was admitting his guilt. The legal theory of the time was that one didn't need to be pardoned if one wasn't guilty.
Not exactly.

The case law of the time had the opinion that:
"A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender; and when the
pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the
offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence."

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333 (1866)
<---key date there. Oh yeah, Lee was alive then.

It wasn't until 1915 that Burdick had the opinion:

“because a pardon does not blot out guilt ... one can conclude that a pardon does not blot out probable cause of guilt or expunge an indictment.”
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915) <----
yeah 45 yrs later.

Although it would actually be another 60 yrs after that, or a full 105 yrs after his death before Lee actually had his citizenship reinstated.

"On October 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson's proclamation. But Lee was not pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. And the fact that he had submitted an amnesty oath at all was soon lost to history.

More than a hundred years later, in 1970, an archivist at the National Archives discovered Lee's Amnesty Oath among State Department records (reported in Prologue, Winter 1970). Apparently Secretary of State William H. Seward had given Lee's application to a friend as a souvenir, and the State Department had pigeonholed the oath.

In 1975, Lee's full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored by a joint congressional resolution effective June 13, 1865.

At the August 5, 1975, signing ceremony, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged the discovery of Lee's Oath of Allegiance in the National Archives and remarked: "General Lee's character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride."
https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/piece-lee
 

cash

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#29
Not exactly.

The case law of the time had the opinion that:
"A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender; and when the
pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the
offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence."

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333 (1866)
<---key date there. Oh yeah, Lee was alive then.

It wasn't until 1915 that Burdick had the opinion:

“because a pardon does not blot out guilt ... one can conclude that a pardon does not blot out probable cause of guilt or expunge an indictment.”
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915) <----
yeah 45 yrs later.

Although it would actually be another 60 yrs after that, or a full 105 yrs after his death before Lee actually had his citizenship reinstated.

"On October 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson's proclamation. But Lee was not pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. And the fact that he had submitted an amnesty oath at all was soon lost to history.

More than a hundred years later, in 1970, an archivist at the National Archives discovered Lee's Amnesty Oath among State Department records (reported in Prologue, Winter 1970). Apparently Secretary of State William H. Seward had given Lee's application to a friend as a souvenir, and the State Department had pigeonholed the oath.

In 1975, Lee's full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored by a joint congressional resolution effective June 13, 1865.

At the August 5, 1975, signing ceremony, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged the discovery of Lee's Oath of Allegiance in the National Archives and remarked: "General Lee's character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride."
https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/piece-lee
The pardon has the effect of blotting out guilt for purposes of punishment. That's what the Court said in the page after the quotation above: "The pardon produced by the petitioner is a full pardon 'for all offences by him committed, arising from participation, direct or implied, in the Rebellion,' and is subject to certain conditions which have been complied with. The effect of this pardon is to relieve the petitioner from all penalties and disabilities attached to the offence of treason, committed by his participation in the Rebellion. So far as that offence is concerned, he is thus placed beyond the reach of punishment of any kind."

But if one pleads not guilty, one forfeits the pardon, therefore accepting the pardon is seen as an admission of guilt.

Chief Justice Marshal wrote:
"As this power had been exercised from time immemorial by the executive of that nation whose language is our language, and to whose judicial institutions ours bear a close resemblance, we adopt their principles respecting the operation and effect of a pardon, and look into their books for the rules prescribing the manner in which it is to be used by the person who would avail himself of it." [32 US 150, 160].

Later in the same case he quoted the English legal authority Sir John Comyns:

" 'if a man has a charter of pardon from the King, he ought to plead it in bar of the indictment, and if he pleads not guilty, he waives his pardon.' The same law is laid down in Bacon's Abridgment title Pardon, and is confirmed by the cases these authors quote." [32 US 150, 162]

Accepting a pardon is an admission that the individual was guilty:

Ex Parte Law (1866)

"There can be no pardon where there is no actual or imputed guilt. The acceptance of a pardon is the confession of guilt, or of the existence of a state of facts from which a judgment of guilt would follow." [15 Fed. Cas. 3, 7]

"It is held by the Supreme Court of Indiana, in Manlove v. State, that where one, pending appeal from a judgment of conviction, accepts the governor's pardon, he is not entitled to review that part of the judgment assessing a fine and cost against him, the acceptance of a pardon being an admission that he was rightly convicted." [Lyne S. Metcalfe, Jr., ed., The Central Law Journal, Volume 48, January to June, 1899, p. 449]
 
#30
Not exactly.

The case law of the time had the opinion that:
"A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offence and the guilt of the offender; and when the
pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the
offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offence."

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Ex parte Garland, 71 U.S. 333 (1866)
<---key date there. Oh yeah, Lee was alive then.

It wasn't until 1915 that Burdick had the opinion:

“because a pardon does not blot out guilt ... one can conclude that a pardon does not blot out probable cause of guilt or expunge an indictment.”
https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/pardons.pdf
Burdick v. United States, 236 U.S. 79 (1915) <----
yeah 45 yrs later.

Although it would actually be another 60 yrs after that, or a full 105 yrs after his death before Lee actually had his citizenship reinstated.

"On October 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson's proclamation. But Lee was not pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored. And the fact that he had submitted an amnesty oath at all was soon lost to history.

More than a hundred years later, in 1970, an archivist at the National Archives discovered Lee's Amnesty Oath among State Department records (reported in Prologue, Winter 1970). Apparently Secretary of State William H. Seward had given Lee's application to a friend as a souvenir, and the State Department had pigeonholed the oath.

In 1975, Lee's full rights of citizenship were posthumously restored by a joint congressional resolution effective June 13, 1865.

At the August 5, 1975, signing ceremony, President Gerald R. Ford acknowledged the discovery of Lee's Oath of Allegiance in the National Archives and remarked: "General Lee's character has been an example to succeeding generations, making the restoration of his citizenship an event in which every American can take pride."
https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2005/spring/piece-lee

The congressional Act of June 6, 1898, 30 Stat. 432, ch. 389, removed all remaining disabilities under the 14th Amendment -- if any still applied to R.E. Lee -- and restored all rights to all former rebels including Lee, thus making the action of President Ford and Congress redundant and a waste of money.

[Act of June 6, 1898, ch. 389, 30 Stat. L. 432.]

An Act To remove the disability imposed by section three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

[Disability imposed for engaging in rebellion, removed.] That the disability imposed by section three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States heretofore incurred is hereby removed. [30 Stat. L. 432.]

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to which reference is made in the text is as follows: "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."
 

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#31
The congressional Act of June 6, 1898, 30 Stat. 432, ch. 389, removed all remaining disabilities under the 14th Amendment -- if any still applied to R.E. Lee -- and restored all rights to all former rebels including Lee, thus making the action of President Ford and Congress redundant and a waste of money.
They did it to curry votes from white southerners.
 
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#32
Robert E. Lee did indeed commit treason. Was it understandable considering the circumstances he and many others found themselves in back then? Yes. Was it still treason? Also yes.

Would it have been reasonable for the U.S. to try him and other Confederate leaders in court and execute them? They most certainly probably could have, but the resulting unrest and animosity probably would have soured relations between the North and South even to this day. In the end Lee being left alone and free was far better for the country than the alternative. His calls for peace and reconciliation did much for bringing the country together in the years following the war.
 
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#33
Colonel Lee and Senator Davis were allowed to live and see slavery abolished and the southern states become an adjunct to a Democratic party that was dependent on northern voters to win elections.
A life sentence in which they witnessed the unified country was probably the ultimate punishment.
 
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#34
Robert E. Lee did indeed commit treason. Was it understandable considering the circumstances he and many others found themselves in back then? Yes. Was it still treason? Also yes.

Would it have been reasonable for the U.S. to try him and other Confederate leaders in court and execute them? They most certainly probably could have, but the resulting unrest and animosity probably would have soured relations between the North and South even to this day. In the end Lee being left alone and free was far better for the country than the alternative. His calls for peace and reconciliation did much for bringing the country together in the years following the war.
No, it wasn’t treason but a modern day opinion.
 
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#35
Colonel Lee and Senator Davis were allowed to live and see slavery abolished and the southern states become an adjunct to a Democratic party that was dependent on northern voters to win elections.
A life sentence in which they witnessed the unified country was probably the ultimate punishment.
Probably not. Nobility helped him handle the times.
 
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#36
No, it wasn’t treason but a modern day opinion.
Eh, I was just answering the title of the thread. Barring all the legal wrangling I think it is hard to argue that Lee and the other Confederates didn't commit treason. Now it's the same sort of treason that Washington committed, and in both cases it doesn't have any negative baring on my opinons of them. I'm going to call a spade a spade though.
 
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#38
Interesting thread, I can see why they didn't bring a treason trial although I can understand why some would have wanted one. It would have been a PR disaster if Lee was not found guilty and there seems to be enough ambiguity for this to happen. There's also the important process of rebuilding and winning the peace. It's also odd that other high profile Confederate commanders who engaged in rebellion aren't mentioned with regards to treason, to many Lee was the rebellion.
 

Viper21

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#39
The congressional Act of June 6, 1898, 30 Stat. 432, ch. 389, removed all remaining disabilities under the 14th Amendment -- if any still applied to R.E. Lee -- and restored all rights to all former rebels including Lee, thus making the action of President Ford and Congress redundant and a waste of money.

[Act of June 6, 1898, ch. 389, 30 Stat. L. 432.]

An Act To remove the disability imposed by section three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

[Disability imposed for engaging in rebellion, removed.] That the disability imposed by section three of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States heretofore incurred is hereby removed. [30 Stat. L. 432.]

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to which reference is made in the text is as follows: "No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."
Redundant, & a waste of money...... perhaps. Though, even in June 1898 one could just about said the same. Lee had been gone 27+ yrs by then.
 

Viper21

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#40
Interesting thread, I can see why they didn't bring a treason trial although I can understand why some would have wanted one. It would have been a PR disaster if Lee was not found guilty and there seems to be enough ambiguity for this to happen. There's also the important process of rebuilding and winning the peace. It's also odd that other high profile Confederate commanders who engaged in rebellion aren't mentioned with regards to treason, to many Lee was the rebellion.
Yet Lee was a 32 yr veteran of the US Army, & didn't resign until AFTER Lincolns call for troops to invade the South. Sounds more like standing up to tyranny, & self defense to me :cool:
 



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