Your History Moment: Was Lee A Traitor?

This article got me thinking about Marse Robert…again.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/what-an-oath-means

There has been a lot written about this man, and I was fortunate to meet him at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg…twice actually.Image

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And although a paragon in many ways, I struggle with his decision to fight against his own country, one he had taken a solemn oath to defend.  Here’s Ron Maxwell’s portrayal of that moment in Gods & Generals:

I know we have to consider the time, that he considered Virginia his country too, but that’s hard to swallow…now.  Can a man really have two countries?  There were many generals of Southern birth who kept their oath, over 30 if memory serves, so his decision was not a given.

I go back and forth on my opinion of Lee.  He was a Christian, a tremendous officer at West Point, and an amazing general during the war.  And if possible to improve upon his legacy, he was even more remarkable after the war when he led Washington College as president.

He said to a member of the faculty during that time, “The greatest mistake of my life was taking a military education.”

If you’d like to read what sort of man he was, Freeman does a nice job:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/People/Robert_E_Lee/FREREL/4/16*.html

I remain torn on how to view him, withholding final judgment, without talking to him myself.  I look forward to that day, speaking with him in person about his choice in depth, along with Lincoln.

Hopefully they’ve gotten past this little disagreement by the time I arrive.

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