Robert E. Lee, A Confederate Hero, Was NOT In Favor of Confederate Monuments and Flags Post Civil War

Robert E. Lee was quoted as saying,

"my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; and of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour."

Robert E. Lee, A Confederate Hero, Was NOT In Favor of Confederate Monuments and Flags Post Civil War

Robert E. Lee was critical of plans to erect statues in memory of the Confederate states, battles and military personnel. General Lee also was in favor of discarding with the Confederate flag and specifically did not allow it to be flown at Washington College, where he was President after the Civil War. Furthermore he was not in favor of preserving Confederate battle fields.

At his funeral General Lee insisted that no Confederate symbols be present. Soldiers in attendance did not wear uniforms and the only flag present were the stars and stripes that represented the United States of America. He was not buried in any military uniform and his daughter stated that her father felt being buried in "his confederate uniform would have been treason!"

The leader of the Confederate Army was very aware that memorials and symbols of the fallen Confederacy would invariably lead to discord and stunt America's progress from its Civil War.

"I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered," - General Robert E. Lee

As General Lee's family try in his vain and many around the country attempt to have monuments of him and other Confederate symbols removed it seems General Lee's thoughts and words are extremely prescient in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, VA, conflict around the country and ongoing disputes regarding government buildings flying the Confederate Battle Flag

It seems important to ask ourselves what is more important. Preserving symbols of history or working towards a more civil future. Our past is our past and will not change. Destruction of monuments and symbols will not erase history but preservation of them is and will create conflict

Sources:

The Man Who Would Not Be Washington by Jonathan Horn

http://www.thedailybeast.com/even-robert-e-lee-wanted-the-confederate-flag-gone

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/11/opinions/confederate-symbols-opinion-horn/index.html

(both cite the book and other biographers)


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Yeah I just read an article about this yesterday. I was really surprised when I found out most of the monuments were put in place during the Jim Crow era to remind African Americans of there place. Its terrible. I had debates with my Dad about it I was for having them removed but my Dad was reluctant to remove pieces of history. But that and that Robert E. Lee opposed them was the last nail on the coffin for him. Put them in a meuseum not in public places.

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    • yeah that is something most people don't really know. the monuments and confederate flag was a moot issue up until post re-construction when as you said many southerners made a concerted effort to remind African americans (and intimidate) of their oppressed history. like the confederate battle flag only was in vogue for 4 years (when it was first flown in 1861) and more or less disappeared until the late 1800s early 1900s as sign of hate, bigotry and intolerance. those suggesting that the monuments and flags are some real nostalgic honoring of history seem to not be familiar with the history.

      i agree museums seem like a better place

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    • Thank you.

    • you're welcome

Most Helpful Guy

  • Unfortunately this beautifully ironic, sobering quote will soar over the heads of ignorant fools that would take issue with the removal of these monuments, erected in the name of being a sore losers.

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    • the funny part is they're the same people who say there should be no participation trophies for losers

    • @Lumberman53 anyone who will march in the streets over a statue when we have such other important issues in the country just shows the level of retardedness these people run at. . It's like raising your hand when someone says "any idiots about?" Suddenly you can see who to pat on the back and offer a hero cookie too and who you can actually have a intelligent conversation with. In a way their doing us a service. Just look for the red hats and avoid them.

    • lol yes exactly

Join the discussion

What Girls Said 5

  • I have great respect for General Lee being that I am also from Virginia and in fact, I am from the very town where General Lee surrendered to Grant. While Lee was certainly entitled to his opinion, most Civil War statues were not created until long after the war, so that is not an excuse for "stunting America's progress."

    A vast majority of Civil War statues and memorials were funded privately by individuals or private organizations in honor of southern people's ancestors and history considering the south WAS a separate country at one point. I see in other comments you claim removing statues is "not erasing history" because "history is engrained in our minds." I'm sorry but I can't agree. History is not automatically engrained in anyone's minds. History is TAUGHT and very often it is taught in a way that is one-sided. History is written by the victor and as someone who truly loves and values history, I want the most unbiased view possible. I enjoy learning as much as I can about the multifaceted issues of the past.

    People automatically assume I'm biased because I am from the south but I 100% acknowledge all the wrongs that the south did. The fact that I disagree with removing confederate monuments does not mean I don't realize the bad things that happened or that I want to "preserve the concept of slavery." That's just ridiculous. I don't want to see them removed because despite those bad things, those men did a lot of good for the south too and both the good and the bad should be considered in any historical context if we are to be intellectually honest with ourselves.

    Anyway, I'll give an example of bias. My boyfriend is originally from the Northeast. The way he learned about the Civil War is totally different from how I learned about it. From comparing with each other, BOTH of our history lessons in school were biased and left out a LOT of the story. I have done a ton of independent research and read numerous articles and personal accounts of the war to form my own opinion.

    Most of my knowledge of the Civil War, I did not learn in public schools. Many public schools teach a very watered down version of history, it's quite sad. So, of course, being from the North, my boyfriend initially had a disdain for the South. It wasn't until he actually moved down here, opened his mind, and learned about it from a DIFFERENT perspective that he thought "hey, there's more to this than I realized." (which is OFTEN the case in history).

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    • I believe statues aren't going to magically teach people history but they do provide a different perspective for people to think about. And ultimately, who is really being harmed by a statue? Let's be brutally honest here. As adults, we should have the ability to say "hey, I don't agree with that but I don't think it should be taken away from other people." Do you honestly believe getting rid of some statues is going to stop people from being racist or hateful? Hate comes from the heart, not some statue. Removing these monuments is not going to get rid of hateful people. And most normal southerners that support the statues are not hateful anyway. Like everything else in this world, it is a vocal minority that ruins it for everyone else.

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    • @jacquesvol I never "dislike" anyone just because they don't share my views on something. That would be silly. Lol Even when we don't agree, I think you're a nice person. :)

    • @xHoneyxBeex Just FYI: only yesterday I searched and looked at Birth of a Nation' by Griffith.
      After that I started reading about how the Secession war started and what happened after it.
      I read a lot , till the wee hours...

  • a monument to history is not an endorsement of a particular movement or side. it is right that we should honor those who gave their lives. we should mourn even the nazi soldiers who served their country. the vast majority were not involved with the genocide and other bad things, but were low level villagers conscripted into the military and forced to fight for their country. does that mean we support nazi-ism? no. but the german people were injured during the war also. it's wrong to dismiss them and say 'they got what they deserved". the same is true for the south. they want to memorialize their history. conquerors destroy a culture and erase people from history. good did come from the civil war. it forced the nation to accept that states have rights- even if we disagree with them and if you try to legislate people's bathroom habits from washington DC eventually people will rise up and rebel. the civil war should be celebrated and memorialized for all time- so that we do not have another one.

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    • i respect your position but do you see the merit in General Lee's opinion? here it is 150 years later and we still haven't been able to move past the strife of the civil war, which is exactly what he suggested would happen and is the sole point of this take.

      i think it's really important for people to try and step back from their bias and consider all sides. a confederate general did this directly following the civil war. we in 2017 (on all sides) should also be able to seriously consider all sides

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    • @zagor that is incorrect. a very controversial decision at the time made by lincoln was to print 'green backs' which gave them a sizable advantage in the war to fund it. without that economic weapon, it is likely the north would have lacked the funding necessary to win the war. in fact, much of the army went unpaid for some time.

    • The North could print more money because it had the economic strength to back it up. The South had little but cotton. It was the South that had it's soldiers often use their own horses and guns.

  • These statues should come down. Why not? In my city alone, 90% of the so called precious history of the world, has been torn down in the name of progress. A statue is not where history lies because they are often built after the fact in remembrance of an individual whereas, say that person's house or clothing or weaponry, etc. is what they actually used, lived in, worked with, aka, actual historical pieces.

    Look at the people out there with torches, guns, helmets, clubs chanting about the wonderful history we want to preserve. They want to preserve in their minds, an ideal time of slavery and oppression. They use the "preservation of history" as a PC smoke screen for what they really mean. You're proud of people who fought violently to oppress another people, yet many don't actually even know the history when pressed about it as in the case of Lee which I find laughable.

    It's one thing if you are out there armed with the knowledge of why these people are so incredibly important to you and what they did, and another when you're just there because you're angry at the world, you feel like America isn't as "great" as it used to be, and you want to get behind something you can take all that out on. Same could be said of BLM. You have the real people out there who want changes made to help blacks, and you have the ones that just show up to cause trouble. Same difference, different day.

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    • the only one's attacking with clubs or making a commotion about them are the left wishing to destroy them. we have had statues up for years and no slavery has been returned has it? why not tear down every statue because our foundering fathers had slaves. oh wait they are already trying to do that.

      the civil war while about slavery was not just about slavery there were many reasons for the civil war. the reason why most of us don't want them torn down is it's a reminder not to fall into such a conflict again which your side seems to adamantinely want

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    • @TheOtakuMaid the left are not the only one's attacking monuments evidenced by a rise in vandalism and destruction of jewish monuments and even the lincoln memorial in DC being vandalized twice since trumps inauguration

    • @madhutters4 That doesn't hurt Peckerwood County

  • I disagree with taking down any monument. It's a part of history we all must know the true story of. Not biased side like another person said. I feel it's hurting southern people more than anything. That's like taking away our American flag. Some people are proud of that war not because of enslavement, but because they're ancestors fought for their homes and families. They may not have agreed with the war but they fought to save their mothers, daughters, fathers, sons.. etc. If we take down the monuments I feel we disregard the death and strength of the many who lost their life. So many people died, it's like they become a fairytale for our grandchildren to learn about.

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  • Sure he wasn't

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What Guys Said 24

  • I find a certain amount of irony in this. So this person is not worthy of a statue, or any sort of praise or admiration. So to justify that opinion, let's use these wonderful, stirring, thought provoking quotes by whom? The very man who is not worthy of a statue, praise or admiration.

    It's a thought provoking post. Based entirely on the merit of the man who is not worth merit.

    The thing is, that even if some of these statues are of R. E. Lee, he is just one man with one opinion. He is expressing his opinion about it. But is he saying that his opinion should be expressed, but nobody else can express their opinion? I don't think so.

    One criticism I've heard of the US by foreigners is that we teach all about "this great country" with all the flag waving, yet gloss over the negatives. They'll tell how in their country history is taught warts and all. History is history and should not be affected by politics or hiding from squeamish subject matter. It especially shouldn't be affected by flavor-of-the-day sensibilities.

    Regardless of what side R. E. Lee fought on, he was one hell of a good general. He was an important man in history. Few if any from the north could match him. You can't change history by sticking your head in the sand and pretending he didn't exist. Because he WAS a great man.

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    • removing memorials isn't changing history or pretending it didn't exist. and his reasons for suggesting memorials of the confederacy were not to do either of those things but foster a more positive forward progression. it seems his opinion in the 1860s was pretty spot on as more than 150 years later here we are.

      and by posting this i'm not saying the memorials and monuments need to come down. just an interesting thought from a person 150 years ago that is incredibly relevant today

  • That might be so, but he still wouldn't find it appropriate to destroy monuments and historical locations.

    And the protestors have moved on from Civil War era monuments and are now attacking presidents.

    Just a week ago or a few days ago they burned a bust of Abraham Lincoln the man who freed the slaves.

    I know that Robert E Lee wouldn't agree with desecrating a presidents monument or bust.

    and I disagree with taking down or desecrating any kind of monument or bust. And trust me this will get out of hand very quickly and go down a even more destructive and restricting path. These protestors need to be jailed and or prosecuted end of story.

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    • the point of this wasn't about the destruction of monuments or removal of monuments (which is happening far more than destruction or vandalism) but the destruction of monuments, and specifically in this matter confederate ones, speaks to the "open the sores of war" General Lee spoke of.

      i'm sure lee wouldn't support the destruction of monuments but he also didn't support their very existence and would point to their presence as a cause the re-unification of the country after civil strife is slow and 150 years not entirely resolved.

      protestors don't need to be jailed. people who commit crimes need to be jailed

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    • right but you said protestors should be arrested. i clarified that by saying protestors shouldn't be arrested, as the VAST majority of these protestors are peaceful). those who commit criminal acts should be arrested and destruction of property is a criminal act

      lee's reasoning doesn't need to mesh with people's reasons for wanting them gone now. i think lee's reasons for not wanting them created is the very reality we are seeing today. that 150 years later these monuments are dividing a nation that needed to heal after the Civil War.

    • you pointing out the criminality that is going on really only serves as an argument that could support lee's feelings regarding the erection of these monuments

  • Robert E Lee was a traitor to the United States of America. He committed treason it took up arms against it and soldiers of the United States of America were killed under his command. He should have been put up against the wall and shot.

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  • Modern day supporters of confed history do not care what Robert E. Lee actually said. That much is certain. They don't really know what the leaders at the time said or did. I have talked to them many times. They quote selectively. And they use their own reasoning and logic to justify confed monuments, history, etc.

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  • I'll have to read his biography later, to view his thoughts in depth. But I could see him being that way about it. Honestly, there's a serious argument for removing those symbols when it comes to State office, or federal property. Moving it all to a museum. But there's also an argument for punishing those who unilaterally decide to remove it now, before it's decided upon by the citizens who choose to vote.

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  • The problem is that when we "endeavor to obliterate the marks of civil strife and to commit to oblivion the feelings that it engendered" we run the risk of doing the same thing all over again.

    And that's not even considering the fact that Robert E. Lee's opinion doesn't speak for everyone that was in the Confederacy. For some people, it was a symbol or heritage, for some a warning and others just wanted to forget.

    I think that instead of trying to hide the less desirable aspects of our history, we should embrace them, accept them and learn from them. Sweeping things under the rug just leads to repression.

    We've dealt with separatists in the past and will likely do so again at some point, so why not leave the monument there as a symbol of where it lead?

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  • Petition them to be removed and displayed in a museum like you'd do with nazi paraphernalia or any defeated enemy historically considered bad if you really want them gone. This whole thing about ripping them down is gross. What I see is a bunch of tards, doing it publicly so they can be seen doing it, running around in a mob, kicking it and spitting on it and be recorded doing it, like violent virtue signalling.

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    • the vast majority have been petitioned or a decision to remove them occurred on a governmental level

      only a small minority have been torn down by civilians... and of course that is illegal

    • I think it's kind silly to remove statues that have been their for ages and are a part of history, but if enough people really don't like them then go through the proper channels. And everything has a place in a museum. It's the tearing them down part that is the worst. It's really, really bad optics.

  • It's essential that we keep teaching the history in a faithful manner.

    At the same time, statues are celebratory, and this man (and what he stands for) does not deserve to be celebrated.

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  • General Lee did not fight for slavery, but out of loyalty to his state of Virginia. I respect the man. He was a genius on the battlefield. I think his statue should come down, but he should be spoken of affectionately in the history books and such

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  • It was not about Robert E. Lee, it was to gather and fight.

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  • I think they should be left alone, people act like taking them down will erase the past but it won't.

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  • and George Washington was not for party systems or getting involved in foreign affairs.

    like it or not BY LAW DICTATED BY CONGRESS

    confederate soldiers are equal to Union and Confederate monuments are equal to Union so tearing down a statue of Robert, E, Lee is equal to tearing down a statue of one of our generals

    and who the fuck says we can't do both

    Europe has worked towards a more civil future without destroying WW2 memorials or Holocaust museums or statues meant to commemorate both sides.

    if we have to destroy our own history to become more civil we might as well split this country into different pieces as this attempt at a melting pot has failed

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    • Robert, E, Lee was a traitor and he lost.

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    • @jacquesvol in the same way the articles of confederation gave birth to the constitution. in that regards, america is still a confederacy as well. the us constitution only exists because of the authority invoked by the articles of confederation. so in exchange for the right to continue to use the king's laws and enforce contracts made under such laws, the colonies maintained a certain amount of connection with the king. but the subsequent war of 1812 showed that england was far from dominant over america. america got a bloody lip, but in the school yard analogy england the bully would never harass us again. although we 'gave up' our demand that england stop impressment into the royal navy, in practical terms we got them to concede, because in order to maintain good relations they stopped doing it. in all practical terms england is our colony now ;)

    • "Europe has worked towards a more civil future without destroying WW2 memorials or Holocaust museums or statues meant to commemorate both sides. "

      you will not find a single statue of nazis, hitler, etc in Europe. it is illegal to even fly a nazi flag or do the heil hitler sign in germany... just pointing this out. and the reason for doing so in Europe is precisely what robert e. lee spoke of

  • Interesting

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  • If i remeber correctly Lee did not own any slaves either. But union general Ulysses S. Grant Did. Just an odd fact i thought was relevant.

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    • Lee did not own slaves as he really wasn't wealthy enough personally to own slaves. he inherited a plantation from his father in-law who in his will required Lee and his wife to emancipate all slaves in 1862. it does sound like lee was not a racist or in favor of slavery as he and his wife supported education of African americans and supported african-americans who sought to establish the free state of Liberia in Africa. he also was not in favor of the confederacy initially but left the union army in favor of the confederate army due to his allegiances to his home state of virginia

      from what i know of grant he did own a slave whom he set free in 1859

    • i should say lee did not own slaves as he was not personally wealthy enough to own slaves and it appears was not in favor of slavery

  • I am against the removal of historical memorials like this.

    Society needs to progress to a stage where they are seen in their correct context.

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  • Interesting

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  • Washington never wanted a monument either. Washington owned slaves too and like Lee was a traitor and rebeled against the government he had sworn allegiance too. Really all staues and monuments to the racist first president should be torn down too.

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  • You sir are purposely trying to piss people off and incite arguments. The very definition of a troll.

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    • if this triggered you i'm sorry. as far as i see this site is all about conversation. if you can't read this without being pissed as opposed to just reflecting on the merit that's on you. but i don't see a lot of arguing going on here at all

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    • I'm sorry that facts seem like trolling to you. There were tons of statues of Hitler in Germany, but now they're gone because he was a horrible human being just like Robert E Lee had horrible political views.
      Do you understand basic analogies and logic?

    • well i've tolerated you enough. good riddance

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