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Author Topic:   Cause of Civil War
Member (Idle past 4004 days)
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Joined: 11-17-2005

Message 150 of 193 (588912)
10-29-2010 12:23 AM

Robert E Lee on slavery
Here's the best match I have found
Lee writes:
So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that Slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interest of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this that I would have cheerfully lost all that I have lost by the war, and have suffered all that I have suffered to have this object attained.
Robert E. Lee Quotes
After the war was over, of course.
Here's a bit from well before, which also seems relevant.
Lee writes:
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.
Robert E. Lee on Slavery
Judging from these, I would say that there seems to be a cross up between "what the war was about" and "what Lee was fighting for". See the difference?
But corroboration or critique of these quotes would be greatly appreciated. The form looks genuine to me, but the source seems questionable.
. . .
Oh but then there's also this.
Lee's second-hand slave writes:
My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, Gen. Lee, who had been made executor of the estate, assumed control of the slaves, in number about seventy; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his death they should be forever free; in fact this statement had been made to them by Mr. C. years before; at his death we were informed by Gen. Lee that by the conditions of the will we must remain slaves for five years; I remained with Gen. Lee for about seventeen months, when my sister Mary, a cousin of ours, and I determined to run away, which we did in the year 1859; we had already reached Westminster, in Maryland, on our way to the North, when we were apprehended and thrown into prison, and Gen. Lee notified of our arrest; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well, an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired; we remained in jail about a week, when we were sent to Nelson county, where we were hired out by Gen. Lee’s agent to work on the Orange and Alexander railroad; we remained thus employed for about seven months, and were then sent to Alabama, and put to work on what is known as the Northeastern railroad; in January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom; I have nothing further to say; what I have stated is true in every particular, and I can at any time bring at least a dozen witnesses, both white and black, to substantiate my statements: I am at present employed by the Government; and am at work in the National Cemetary on Arlington Heights, where I can be found by those who desire further particulars; my sister referred to is at present employed by the French Minister at Washington, and will confirm my statement.
These guys go on to slap at the paperwork a bit
Custis actually gave freedom to his slaves without qualification in his will; the matter of the five years was supposed to be time for Custis’s executors to do the legal paperwork for emancipation in such manner as may to [them] seem most expedient and proper. There’s good reason to read the clause as intending for the five years to serve as an upper bound on settling the legal details, not as five more years for driving the slaves for whatever last bits of forced labor could be gotten. Lee, however, did not see it that way, and set the slaves to for his own profit for as long as he could. We have already seen that some of the slaves disagreed with Lee on this point of legal interpretation, and how he treated those who acted on their legal theory by seceding from his plantation.
Of course, Lee never was very big on secession at all. Those who love to haul out the Confederacy Lee included as heros for secessionist self-determination tend to neglect comments such as this one:
Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for perpetual union so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession. Anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the other patriots of the Revolution.
Robert E. Lee, letter, 23 January 1861
Edited by Iblis, : John Brown's body lies a-mold'ring in the grave

Replies to this message:
 Message 155 by Theodoric, posted 10-29-2010 11:58 AM Iblis has not replied
 Message 163 by REL, posted 07-10-2012 7:34 PM Iblis has not replied

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