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Robert E. Lee’s Legacy Proves Why He Deserves No Statues

Robert E. Lee's Legacy
Image: Creative Commons.

The question of Robert E. Lee’s legacy was once again thrown open last week when a statue of Lee was removed from Richmond, Virginia, erstwhile capitol of the Confederacy. Former President Trump reacted angrily to the removal, arguing that the statue was “magnificent” and that Lee could have won the war in Afghanistan. Critics of the former President felt compelled to respond with a fusillade of criticism of Lee, much of it was sensible and much not. The entire episode has revealed a troubling lack of clarity about Lee’s legacy.

To take the former President both literally and seriously, Robert E. Lee has long been regarded as an exceptional military commander, but doubts about his military legacy have been evident since the 1860s. It is difficult to arrive at a realistic assessment of Lee’s gifts as a military commander, as generations of politically motivated hagiography turned him into America’s Great Captain, an honor he never deserved.  The sensible pushback against that position has devolved into treating him simply as a “loser,” as if the quality of a general can be assessed outside the political, social, and economic conditions in which he operates. The case against Lee rests on three arguments; he lost several of the most consequential battles he fought, he lacked strong strategic judgment, and he ordered one of the most disastrous attacks of the war. The first we can ignore; great generals lose battles and bad generals win them, just as bad pitchers win baseball games and great pitchers lose them. The other two deserve more attention.

Historians often fault Lee’s strategic judgment, in part because of his obsession with defending Richmond, and in part because of his two failed invasions of the North. These assessments are not sound, and fail to consider the strategic context. Lee understood (as did Grant) that Richmond was the Confederate center of gravity and that its capture might result in a collapse in resistance.  Thus, defending the Confederate capitol against the Army of the Potomac, the largest and most formidable force available to the United States, was a clear imperative.

But more importantly, he appreciated that the Confederacy could not survive with a defensive strategy. Grant was in the process of dismembering the Confederacy in the West as Lee invaded Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863.  Even if a defensive strategy had been able to force the North to give up on its effort to conquer Virginia, the Mississippi (and quite likely all territories west of the Mississippi) would have been lost forever; the Army of Northern Virginia might force Lincoln to cease hostilities, but it could not force him to give up territory already conquered. Moreover, Federal control of the Mississippi was an existential threat to the institution of slavery in the South, as it gave the Black population an easy highway to seek liberation.

The case against Lee’s decision-making in battle generally rests on the wisdom of Pickett’s Charge, an infantry assault on the center of the US Army line at the Battle of Gettysburg.  The attack was a costly failure, but it is important not to read Lee’s decision to attack through the lens of World War I, when infantry assaults across open ground had become utterly suicidal. Confederates achieved numerical superiority at the decisive point and forced hand-to-hand fighting before being repulsed. Had they carried the US Army position, they would have inflicted a serious defeat on the Army of the Potomac. Similar assaults in other battles during the war succeeded, although the conditions at Gettysburg are not generally regarded as conducive to success. In any case, even great captains are allowed a mistake or two; the decision of Ulysses S. Grant to assault prepared Confederate defenses at Cold Harbor is altogether less sensible than the Gettysburg attack.

What we can say of Lee is this; he was an extraordinary motivator of men, even if he never particularly connected with them. He was tactically brilliant on both offense and defense, but brilliance does not imply omnipotence. He had an intuitive sense of the generals he fought against, and he managed his subordinates well. Had he fought on the other side the war quite likely would have been shorter and less destructive.

But we do not build statues of and pile honors upon people who are merely excellent at some skill.  To understand the meaning of the removal of Lee’s statue, we must take into account the purposes to which he put his great skills. Lee was a traitor, and being a traitor is complicated. Treason is perhaps the least heinous of the mortal sins; Washington and Adams and Jefferson were all traitors, as was De Gaulle, and Alcibiades, and Brutus and Cassius, and a great many others who we may find admirable. But the evaluation of one’s treason depends on its purpose and its consequences. Washington’s treason is justified because it succeeded in creating something, and because we regard its purpose as noble. De Gaulle’s treason helped usher in the defeat of Nazi Germany; the jury remains out on Cassius and Brutus.

Robert E. Lee's Legacy

L. Prang & Co. print of the painting “Hancock at Gettysburg” by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett’s Charge. Restoration by Adam Cuerden.

Lee betrayed his oath and his country for the principle that white people should be able to own black people. It was a principle he was willing to kill for, and he killed a very great number of Americans in his failed effort to maintain the South as a slaveocracy. We ought not to erect statues to men who are characterized only by their tactical and strategic military judgement, but not by any moral or ethical sense. Lee failed at his purpose, and it is an altogether good thing that he failed. Thus, there should be no hesitation about removing statues that were erected to the cause of white supremacy.

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Robert Farley is a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020).

Written By

Dr. Robert Farley has taught security and diplomacy courses at the Patterson School since 2005. He received his BS from the University of Oregon in 1997, and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 2004. Dr. Farley is the author of Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force (University Press of Kentucky, 2014), the Battleship Book (Wildside, 2016), and Patents for Power: Intellectual Property Law and the Diffusion of Military Technology (University of Chicago, 2020). He has contributed extensively to a number of journals and magazines, including the National Interest, the Diplomat: APAC, World Politics Review, and the American Prospect. Dr. Farley is also a founder and senior editor of Lawyers, Guns and Money.

56 Comments

56 Comments

  1. FDChief

    September 16, 2021 at 11:29 am

    My problem with Lee the strategist is not his role as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia but, rather, his role as de facto “Chairman of the Joint Chiefs” for the Confederacy.

    As such his job was to advise Jeff Davis & Co. as to the military means to their political ends, and the briefest survey of military tecnology and the economic and military mismatch between the CSA and the US government should have clued him that “battlefield victory” wasn’t a means that was going to achieve the CSA’s end of independence.

    Admittedly, it’s highly unlikely that Davis, a nimrod who thought of himself as a highly stable military genius, wouldn’t have listened. But the fact that Lee, unlike Yamamoto, never seemed to get the military imbalance or, like von Rundstedt, had a “make peace, you fools!” moment pretty much knocks him out of the “Even Sorta-great Captains” running

  2. Jim Higgins

    September 16, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Robert E. Lee is a man that embodied Duty, Honor and Integrity. See the clip from “Gods and Generals” where he refuses command of the Union Army.The home is the basis of the nation and a man’s first loyalty is to his home as was General Lee’s. Lincoln was wrong to invade his own country with about 75,000 troops, VERY wrong.

  3. Michael Korver

    September 16, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    The comment at the end that stated that Lee basically fought to keep slavery in the South is not totally true. Lee said (in a letter to his wife, I think) that slavery was/is morally wrong. He chose to defend his home state and family as did many other US citizens at that time. Yes he did own slaves but those were inherited from his father-in-law and he only intended to keep them as slaves until his father-in-law’s debt was paid. Lee was a good general and I also believe that the war would have been won by the north faster and less costly if he/Virginia had sided with the North. I still don’t think taking down his statue or any other historical statue is right. It is a part of history. It happened. Now let’s leave those statues up so that it will pique the curiosity of future generations to learn about important historical events and the people that played a role in said events.

  4. James Hare

    September 16, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    The proper monument to Lee’s treason is the one left at his doorstep by the United States.

  5. John Collins

    September 16, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    The idiot that wrote this is not fit to shine General Lee’s boots!

  6. TIMOTHY W SNEED

    September 16, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Lee was not a traitor. He was dedicated to follow his home land, Virginia. This is something leaders today have no honor in doing, todays leaders only do what is best for them.

  7. Mitch W

    September 16, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Love how you argue your premises.
    You support your supposition with non comparable.
    Then you surmise that Lee’s sole reason for opposing the North/Union was “to own black slaves”.

    Are you really that
    Obtuse?

  8. JOHN THAYER

    September 16, 2021 at 1:42 pm

    We honor the memory of General Lee as a symbol of reuniting our nation after the War Between The States split it in two.

  9. Jackie McCaskill

    September 16, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Dr Farley doesn’t know the difference between a traitor and someone fighting for his homeland.

  10. Kenneth Pace

    September 16, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    Your efforts to destroy southern culture and history will not succeed. A fight for Independence will always be remembered. Change all the names, tear down all the statues, you will never erase history.

  11. Dale Aeschbacher

    September 16, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    U need to know your History Go Back to school & Read the BOOKs

  12. Slack

    September 16, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    General Lee and general Grant are two sides of the same coin now called uncle sam. Today, uncle sam is alternately ruled by dems and republicans and relentlesssly pursues bloody wars, conquests, war booty and vassals abroad. The US needs to erect statues of clinton, bush, obama, hitler and many other…..

  13. Elizabeth Mitchell

    September 17, 2021 at 7:30 am

    History is History it is a part of us but yet we tend to destroy it by taking statues and changing names of parks and so on because it offends other people. Well so what Let’s just take down all the statues and give the parks and streets different names so we don’t offend each other.
    Leave the past alone make the future better people

  14. edwin wells

    September 17, 2021 at 8:04 am

    Farley, your article on Robert e lee is disgusting,Robert E lee is a veteran and a american,Farley your just another coward liberal and part of the white hater campaign that’s going on in the county

  15. FU biden

    September 17, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Robert Farley is an idiot.

  16. Andrew Colom

    September 17, 2021 at 9:05 am

    There’s something bizarre going on in this country when this mild tempered fact based critique of Robert Lee is lambasted like this. If Robert Lee had won the efforts to protect his immoral home of slavery then America would have collapsed and world history would be much worse off. On top of the horrible violence Robert Lee’s protection of his immoral home would have brought Black people. Get a grip people. slavery was wrong. We defeated it. Lee was defeated. People who are defeated and are morally bankrupt don’t get statues celebrating them. The lies on here pretending like statues are historical texts not celebrations! Crazy. Get a grip people.

  17. Butch

    September 17, 2021 at 9:20 am

    It turned out the way it would have eventually turned out if the south had won. My bitch is why did they not send the slaves back to their Homeland? They have been a thorn in the white man’s side ever since,then they would have came back to America by choice and there wouldn’t be this victim mentality that keeps everyone at odds with each other. My 2 cent’s.

  18. ADM64

    September 17, 2021 at 9:23 am

    The article is correct. General Lee’s “homeland” was the United States of America, not the state of Virginia, and the oath he and other Confederate military leaders took was to the Constitution. They were traitors. That they were not all evil men or that they possessed strong characters otherwise, is irrelevant to this point.

  19. USAPATRIOT

    September 17, 2021 at 9:27 am

    The historical fact, Grant was Commander in Chief, as opposed to today where the US President is, Grant’s empathetic regard for the Confederate General (s) and Confederate Soldiers, “eliminated the use of a War Tribunal where Treasonous Combatants against their Country could not be administered, thus Imprisonments or Exile penalties were naught.”

    No Accountability for the Confederate Insurrection based, not only on the Slavery issue, but a demeanor of Confederate Elitism and White Supremest values.

  20. Terri Brown

    September 17, 2021 at 9:44 am

    I’m so sick and tired of all these so-called ‘historians’ that find fault with Lee and others in the South. I agree that slavery was wrong but you can’t keep saying that the Civil War was all about slavery. None of them were there. If you’re gonna take his statue down and try to erase some of history then take ALL down. Best we all can do is listen more and learn from each other.

  21. US Grant

    September 17, 2021 at 9:57 am

    “Lee FAILED at his purpose…” Boom.

    It’s always fun, well, maybe alarming,to read the knee jerk comments left by lost cause tribalists.

  22. Donald Tinyhands

    September 17, 2021 at 9:58 am

    The simpletons that believe a statue is history continue to amaze me. Lee lived. His actions and decisions are history. The Civil War happened. The strategy employed, the men involved, the suffering they endure, and why they fought is history. A statue is not history. Read a book, folks. That’s where the history is. And, surprise: the books will tell you: 1)Lee was a traitor who broke his military oath, 2) the South fought to preserve slavery (period! Read the secession states’ own constitutions), and 3) the Confederacy lost; get over it.
    If you need to idolize a losing traitor to feel good about your own bigotry in 2021, to quote Trump (another loser): “that’s sad.”

  23. Paul W Box

    September 17, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Another seeking to rewrite history in his own image as the way he thinks it should be, not the way it was. Nothing quite as refreshing to the leftist ear as Marxist inspired lies.

  24. Plutarch Heavensbee

    September 17, 2021 at 11:15 am

    You had me until “Lee betrayed his oath and his country for the principle that white people should be able to own black people”. Which is a patently false statement. Lee is a victim of circumstance, nothing more. If you want to tie him to social norms of the time, youd better throw George Floyd and The Bible under the bus with General Lee.

  25. BJSmith

    September 17, 2021 at 11:51 am

    How many years have you spent in the military let alone in the Army out in the field combat arms?
    None.
    So easy to talk about how someone doesn’t deserve this or that.
    The woke culture is destroying the country and all you can talk about is a someone not deserving a monument.
    Go serve food to the poor souls having to put up with the southern border.

  26. Philip o

    September 17, 2021 at 11:53 am

    How is Lee a traitor, he went the way of Virginia, you obviously do not teach the same level of rigor I had with a civil war history class I had in the seventies where states rights were far more important back then and Lincoln represented a direct threat to the south, what you teach is mushy modern fabricated history

  27. Steven west

    September 17, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    I think we have totally forgotten what the civil war was truly about. Yes slavery was the major issue but the broader perspective was the fact that the south was not happy about the federal government imposing it’s policies and laws on the states that were supposed to be able to govern themselves. If we remember Virginia was the last state to ratify the constitution due to the statement “why should we trade a tyrant that is 5000 thousand miles away for one that is 500 miles away.”
    I am not up on lee’s military history but I am aware he fought in the Mexican war of 1846 and am aware that he was the first choice for Lincoln to head the union army. Due to lee’s dedication to his home state and the belief in wat the civil war was truly about he chose to serve his native land. I find no fault in this and commend him for his loyalty and honesty. It would not have mattered whether it was Lee or any other leader the war was inevitable and would have taken place irregardless of who was picked. (lee was not the first choice and he did not take overall command till the 2nd year of the war).
    The other thing here is that this was a war between Americans and irregardless of what side they were on they were veterans. Each veteran fought on the side where he believed in the cause. We should honor all these veterans and remember their sacrifice and not desecrate their memory and or their ultimate price. We are starting to act like Japan and other countries, even Russia, by burying our history and forgetting what this country went through to be what it is today. We are still fighting the civil war to this day cause the federal government has totally run over the constitution and our individual rights and truly has become what Virginia feared in 1781, a tyrant??

  28. Valerie L Hutson

    September 17, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Ignorant and one sides without TRUE knowledge of Lee. Lee was a Northerner who was sent to fight for the Southern States against his own choosing. He wanted to fight for President Lincoln.
    This war was not started over slavery. That came later is one LIE that has grown with with hatred in this country amd the racial divide started under Obama.
    Does Rodney King or George Floyd deserve a statue? NO. Neither did a single thing in their life to benefit another person or themselves. They chose to NOT OBEY authority and end their own lives over it. Their choice.
    Now the war began because the Northern businesses wanted to grow their factories and needed the Southern plantations and free labor.
    Northerners had slaves too.
    Read the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln was very careful not to upset Union States and ONLY freed Southern slaves!!!
    Lee’s problem was Grant. Grant was a “total war” General. That means he went to battle to win or die. He didn’t care if he won by starving you or killing you with a gun. End was the same, he won. Grant cut off food supplies, he destroyed railways, and he would trap the opposition so they either starved, fought and died, or surrendered. He was vicious!
    To tear down statues just because…and then claim you’re offended is B.S. you’re not offended because you weren’t there and you weren’t a slave. I wasn’t there and I didn’t own any. I don’t owe you money either! Get a job!!
    Wanna tear down something? Go tear down some doors where your politicians are (not the capitol) and demand change. Burn up them phonetics, send emails…make a change not a nuisance of yourselves!!
    And leave these statues alone!! Lee did his job. There just happened to be someone better thst beat him. It didn’t stop slavery for a very long time, and it sure didn’t stop it in the Nprth!
    If you want to tear something down, research Robert Byrd. KKK Grand Wizard and Congressman. His name is on buildings and roads all over West Virginia and I believe he has statues too.
    But I bet you don’t because West Virginia don’t play your game!!!

  29. Gen. McClellan

    September 17, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    The only cadet to graduate west point with out a single demerit. He extended a unwinnable war for years. He was offered command of the army of the Potomac but would not March on his home state and His kin folk. Chris Farley could have wrote a better article at least it would be funny. Woke but still don’t have a clue…

  30. Paul O

    September 17, 2021 at 12:41 pm

    Lots of heartache for removing a participation trophy from its prominent location in Richmond.

  31. Ryke Merrill

    September 17, 2021 at 1:51 pm

    Okay yes General Robert E Lee, ( in my opinion) was a traitor to the Union, and the Constitution. But you must study the man to understand him. He was a Virginian! Born and raised there. Yes he had slaves, but he treated them well, and they were far better off in the cabins, Lee built for them, than the grass shacks in Africa! He also started grammar, and Sunday schools for his slaves! Could he have won the war? Absolutely yes, especially if his best had not been killed, Thomas Stonewall Jackson! He absolutely did not fight because of wanting to keep slavery! He fought for states rights, which in his mind was part of the original Constitution! He was a Great General, as Patton, McArthur, and Eisenhower! Get over it! Stop tearing down our history!

  32. BILL GIBSON

    September 17, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    DO NOT TAKE MY POST DOWN BECAUSE YOU DONT LIKE WHAT IT SAYS. THAT IS NOT FREE SPEECH!!!! BUTCH THE REASON LINCOL

  33. BILL GIBSON

    September 17, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Robert Farley went to the biggest liberal college in America Oregon and followed it up with Washington, thats all that needs to be said!!!!!!!

  34. Robert D Schneeweiss

    September 17, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    This is a terrible take on Lee and the Civil War. For starters, we did not erect those statues as monuments to those who fought AGAINST the United States. They were erected to show that the men who fought and died under either flag were, once again, our American Brethren. It was done as part of reconstruction and as a symbolic gesture that the enmities of the war had been forgotten. It was a unifying measure meant to help hold our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying Country together through a terrible time in our Nations history.

  35. Dwight

    September 17, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    I believe Lee was great. Those back in his era on BOTH sides felt the same about him. He was not tried for treason. You must remember States Rights were more powerful than the federal government prior to the war. Lee being from Virginia when forced to choose went with his home state. He was not for slavery. Yes he had slaves he inherited. In Virginia they had laws in place that didn’t allow him to free them before the civil wat. After the war some it is said he stood with and knelt with black people in church. Some who were racist asked him why he knelt with them he said we are all equal before God.

  36. Matthew Charles Srader

    September 17, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    Lee was not a traitor, and he did not break any oath to his country. He had resigned his commission in the US Army, after being offered to command forces to invade his home state, where his family and kin lived. He only came to lead the Army of Northern Virginia, through happenstance, after General Joseph E. Johnston was wounded in the Battle of Seven Pines, where as he went on to defeat general after general that led armies to invade his home, though often being vastly outnumbered. He was opposed to slavery, and just because the South unfortunately had the institution of slavery, dosn’t mean he fought to defend it. He fought for independence and against invasion. Slavery would not have lasted much longer after the Civil War. The USA and the CSA would have gone on to be great allies and friends had the South won. Its a disgrace to history that these politically correct fanactics and bigots, are attempting to rewrite history, commit cultural and historical genocide, in their insane attempt to apply today’s moral values to those of people that lived many many generations ago. After the war it was Lee, more than any other person that helped to reunite us as a nation. His military genius will still go on and be studied for millenia. Those who ask for tolerance yet show none in return, I think will be judged harshly and justly for their ignorance and hate, with their morally superiority complex, as they attempt to eradicate and wipe out other’s cultural history and heritage! We all as Americans deserve to have our cultural backgrounds respected and preserved, even white Southerners!!!

  37. BILL GIBSON

    September 17, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    The problem here is not one of the Greatest Generals that ever rode a horse it is OBAMA FUNDAMENTALLY CHANGING AMERICA AND ALL THE LEFT AND 90% OF BLACKS LETTING IT HAPPEN!! HE IS THE ONE THAT STARTED ALL THIS BECAUSE HE HATES AMERICA AND ALWAYS HAS.SUSAN RICE IS RUNNING THIS COUNTRY FROM OBAMA AND HIS FLUNKEYS. THEY WANT TO TEAR DOWN THIS COUNTRY, BANKRUPT IT, GET EVERYONE FIGHTING AGAINST EACH OTHER ,ALONG WITH GEORGE SOROS. NEITHER OBAMA OR SOROS BELEIVE IN GOD. THEY HAVE BRAINWASHED THE YOUNGER GENERATION AT OUR UNIVERSITY AND HAVE THE BLACKS RIOTING AND BELEIVING THEY CAN GET AWAY WITH ANYTHIN WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES. THEY ARE THE ONES TEARING OUR HISTORY DOWN!!!!!. THIS COUNTRY IS NOW IN THE SAME SHAPE THE SOUTH WAS IN IN 1862. STATES RIGHTS!!!. DONT GIVE ME THAT BULLSHIT IT WAS OVER SLAVERY. 70% OF THE SLAVES WHEN FREED STAYED RIGHT WERE THEY WERE!. LINCOLN WAS SENDIND THEM BACK TO THERE HOMELAND UNTIL BOOTH SHOT HIM AND ALL THAT CHANGED. READ THE HISTORY. THE BLACK MAN NEVER BUILT MORE THAN A GRASS HUT IN HIS LIFE UNTIL HE CAME TO AMERICA. THE AFRICAN AND EUROPEANS WERE NEVER MENT TO LIVE TOGETHER. THEREFOR BUTCH WAS RIGHT THEY HAVE BEEN A THORNE IN THIS COUNTRYS SIDE EVER SINCE. NOW IT HAS GOT SO BAD YOU GOT THE LIKES OF OBAMA WHO ARE TRYING TO DESTRYS US. WHAT A GREAT MAN AND MILTARY MAN. I WILL NOT DRAW MY SORD AGAINST MY HOME STATE OF VIRGINIA!!!. NOW LOOK VIRGINA IS THE ONLY TRADER HERE.TARING DOWN HIS STATURE BY OBAMAS PEOPLE AND TURNING COMMUNIST DEMOCRACT. I GREW UP IN VIRGIA AND THERE IS MORE HISTORY IN THAT STATE THAN ANY OTHER, PLUS 7 PRESIDENTS. NOW LOOK WHATS RUNNING IT. RICHMOND 80% BLACK AND YELLING TO TEAR DOWN MR LEE AND REPLACE IT WITH BLACK LIVES MATTER flag. Enough

  38. getoffmylawn

    September 17, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    This author displays a very large ignorance of antebellum American history. The South and the North were always in dispute over domestic policy. The more populous North was the origination of the 3/5ths clause of the constitution to prevent the South from counting slaves for representation. The Nullification Crisis of 1832; a protest of export taxes on cotton and tobacco and a tariff on finished goods from abroad, various export taxes of 1843, 1846, and 1858 all contributed to the Souths’ resentment of ‘Yankee’ domestic imperialism. It came to a head with Lincolns election, who was abolition ‘light’, but enough for the South to say done. Lee was an American patriot, but choose to fight for his home of VIRGINIA (not the CSA) in the upcoming storm.

  39. Troy bolen

    September 18, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Lee was not a traitor he refused to invade his home . In that age the home was more important than country and most people were more loyal to their state than the country as a whole. The civil war was not just about slavery Lincoln himself had no problem with slavery
    He just didn’t want it expanding to other territories in our then growing country. If statues are removed because they may have been slave holders or were racist then the Lincoln memorial should come down too.

  40. American Patriot

    September 18, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    I posted this link yesterday to a very good article by Dr. Gary Gallagher entitled “ A Question of Loyalty: Why Did Robert E. Lee Join the Confederacy”

    https://www.historynet.com/a-question-of-loyalty-why-did-robert-e-lee-join-the-confederacy.htm

    Unfortunately it was removed, so I am pleased to be able to provide it again.

  41. Dan

    September 20, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Robert E Lee for all his errors and facts for being part of a slave honoring side should be remembered.
    Some presidents owned slaves. They are are on our currency and have statues.
    Do we cancel history because p arts of it offend us? No. Cancel culture is alive now and itself needs to be canceled. We must learn from history. Let’s not burn it like many other socialistic movements through history. Do we need reminding how those burned books and were just as bad the slave states during the Civil War? Lee fought for our country before the conflict.
    He is revered by all sides of that conflict. Let’s let history teach us. Yes that includes keeping statues of prominent people- even if they have flawed sides. Examples: Washington and Jefferson( slave owners) and Lincoln who was flawed in other ways. Learn from flaws- don’t cancel them.

  42. Isiah Mcarn

    September 20, 2021 at 5:06 am

    I’m a black/Indian man. I don’t think any of the statues of the confederacy should be destroyed or defaced. I think we should have museums all across America to put them into. So that,they can be visited and people can learn from the past. Especially for future generations. They must be remembered, or we will most certainly repeat the same mistakes.

  43. Mario DeLosa

    September 20, 2021 at 10:14 am

    For all of those that doubt that a significant portion of the population is racist, some of the comments posted here should dispel such doubts. Comments such as “Your efforts to destroy southern culture and history will not succeed” are proof of that. The fact that the writer of that comment is clearly focused solely on “white” southern culture is manifest. Moreover, for anyone that still tries to dis-associate slavery as the primary “causa bello” for the Civil War, I will encourage you to read the secession declaration of the states that made up the Confederacy, as seven out nine specifically cited Northern opposition to slavery as the primary reason for secession.

  44. William Rutlrdge

    September 21, 2021 at 1:03 am

    This Dr is not half the man Robert Lee was

  45. Ronan

    September 22, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    Farley rewrites history and passes it off as fact.

  46. Thomas Roberts

    September 22, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    We erected statues to remember all Americans that were involved in the great civil war, it is our country remembering the past. Taking down monuments is destructive to what we went through as a country. The war was along time ago!, grow up stop being cry babies. Stop trying to erase the past. Forget the past and you will never learn anything about what we endured. It’s idiotic to try living in the past!

  47. Don

    September 23, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Yeah come on people, if we don’t erase history like statues and what’s written in books how can we ever deny it happened. Americans history whether good or bad is or history. Soon it will be like the Germans denying the holocaust saying where is all the proof, saying all those things are just made up movie magic.

  48. Bruce

    September 23, 2021 at 11:31 am

    …”Lee betrayed his oath and his country for the principle that white people should be able to own black people. It was a principle he was willing to kill for, and he killed a very great number of Americans in his failed effort to maintain the South as a slaveocracy.”

    As a democratic socialist and certainly not a fan of Orange Clown Traitor Trump I think you should resign as a teacher.

    You failed to mention Lee was painfully divided on which side to support. His long suffered decision was not hasty nor was it a literal white and black thing. He based his decision on defending his home. Yiu cannot blame anyone for concluding that decision. Think if your home was under attack by Trump what would you do?

    Lee anguished over having to go to war against not only fellow Americans but his friends who were commanders themselves of the North.

    Another factor you failed to talk about is although he lost at Gettysburg it was a battle he did not plan. His plan was, however, not to outright beat the North but to win decisive battles on their territory to sue for peace.

    Your surmise that his statue was rightfully taken down is absurd.

    Indeed if Lee had been elected President after the war the US would have healed faster and we would not have the division we have even unto today.

    As for the orange clown Trump saying nice things about Lee Trump was an idiot in school and never will be my dictator. Trump is the real traitor.

  49. Brian F Hughes

    September 23, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    Aw, how cute. Your third-grade public school teacher would be so proud of you, after the (alleged) ‘higher’ [snicker] education you received you can still parrot the pablum she spoon-fed to you. Yes, Abraham Lincoln (an avowed white supremacist who was outspokenly against the idea of equal or civil rights, who wanted to expatriate all the ‘freed’ slaves to the jungles of Central America, who said himself, numerous times, that the war was NOT about ending slavery), was noble and just and a hero, and the Southerners were “traitors”.

    Remind me again why Jefferson Davis wasn’t tried for treason? Oh, wait, I remember, because SECESSION ISN’T TREASON.

    But out of curiosity, who else makes the great Farley list of “traitors”? Sure George Washington (oh, wait – did you think the holiday you celebrate in July is national let’s-try-to-blow-our-fingers-off-with-fireworks day?)? How about Éamon de Valera? William Wallace (heck, he was even executed for it!)?

    You must really be confused with Ho Chi Minh at first he was a traitor, but now he must belong on a pedestal next to Lincoln’s for “saving the union” by reunifying his country? Or Chiang Kai-shek, who went in the opposite direction? And surely you’d be okay if Russia brutally and bloodily invaded Lithuania, Armenia, etc., to put down those “traitors? Or if China nuked Taiwan, to bring them back into the fold?

    I do find your articles entertaining. It’s not surprising that succeeding levels of [snicker] academia left you so innocent, yet it’s hardly surprising, considering that in order to ‘earn’ your degrees you had to parrot back what you were ordered to think by other [snicker] ‘historians’ who still revered their own third grade teachers. Keep it coming – you’re always good for a laugh.

  50. David Buck

    September 24, 2021 at 12:21 am

    Oh, if slavery was the only thing the civil war was fought over. It was not, there are issues still not resolved today. We were ment to have strong state government, an a small federal presence to handle issues like immigration. We still have unresolved problems.Lee fought for Virginia.

  51. Robert C Ferguson

    September 27, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    To accept Me Farley’s thesis one has to be opposed to the concept of white supremacy. I support the concept of white supremacy, therefore I cannot accept it.

  52. David Cramer

    September 27, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Dr Fraley is an idiot. Pure and simple. You can’t change or rewrite history. Leave the statues alone. Most of them have been there for over 100 years.

  53. Kenneth

    September 27, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Some one up there is exactly right the Jan 6 entrance to the White House is the same thing a political agenda just like the civil war the only good thing to come out was freeing the slaves ( not sure what we freed them to) but that’s another story, there’s were slaves above the mason dixon and west of the mississippi and Ohio valley, some didn’t even leave after they were free, in fact most of them suffered diar consequences after the laws were rescinded by word changes. The north pulled all the troops (like Afghanistan) and let it return to as before some what. The only difference the taxes, some counties started own banks and currency and I acted independent rule. If it happened again in this country and I think it will ( glad iam old) I wonder if any one would know what they are fighting for, certainly not Biden or trump. God bless all who have died or suffered to make this country better.

  54. Dennis M Komar

    September 27, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Wow, to accuse Lee of being a traitor, Lincoln betrayed the states, by overstepping the given powers of the Federal Gov’t. Fundamentally the Federal Gov’t after that point in history, is the Gov’t we know today a Totalitarianism.

  55. Joni Van Deventer

    September 27, 2021 at 10:58 pm

    Dr. Farley, you’re obviously already biased coming into this subject. Before you challenge General Lee’s military competence or integrity. Ask yourself, ‘could I risk all to serve, even die” ? I doubt it. You can only negatively write about great men.

  56. Bankotsu

    October 4, 2021 at 5:53 am

    I don’t think the motivating factor for Lee was defense of slavery. I think it was patriotism for defense of Virginia.

    Slavery wasn’t the main issue. The main issue was that Virginia had made a choice and needed Generals to defend that choice and Lee saw it as his duty to answer that call.

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