Feedback | Robert E. Lee and Biographical Significance

Monsters are relatively rare under Hitler’s command. But monster biographers are not the only problem. There are also inconsistent, step-by-step, critical error writers, introspective, catastrophicly well-intentioned. How do we write a biography of a naturalist like British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and explain how we can give Hitler such a devastating misconception? How do we deal with an out-of-stepper like Chamberlain successor Winston Churchill (The Dardanelles, Edward VIII and colon colonialism)? How do we behave as inconsistently as Ulysses Grant, who fought as a general for the Union in the Civil War but issued an antisemitic order in 1862, or Woodrow Wilson, who made the world safer for democracy but supported Jim Crowe?

My experiments with Robert E. Lee have raised many of these same questions. He raised his hand against the United States which he vowed to defend, and for this there is no word other than treason (Lee was charged with treason but did not face trial). He fought madly during the Civil War in defense of a Confederacy, openly dedicated to slavery. According to some accounts, he whipped a slave who was trying to escape. And he became the pinnacle of the “lost cause” myth, which he regarded as the ultimate proof of the Peerless Southern Equestrian and White Dominance.

But then other realities penetrate. If Lee was supposed to be a plantation elite by “horseman”, Lee must have been no equestrian. His branch of the famous Virginia Lis was a marginal and Lee himself was the fruit of an unfavorable childhood. (His fearless father, Lee of revolutionary fame “Light Horse Harry”, left him when he was only 6 years old.) It left him thirsty for security, freedom and perfection.

A study of Lee contrasts. He frankly acknowledged that slavery was “a moral and political evil in any country” – but mercilessly added that it was indeed a problem for whites and “made blacks … morally, socially and physically better here than in Africa.” The Confederacy leadership called for the release, including enlistment of freed slaves in the Confederacy army – but enlistment came only in the last months of the war, as the last disappointment, when the Confederacy situation was already hopeless. Assuming the presidency he was a pilot of progressive education – and showed no sympathy for the former slaves around him and made no effort to integrate the college student organization. Was. “

Even Lee statues do not convey a general message. The Confederate idol always carries an inhuman refusal to face the new ethnic and political world created by the end of civil war and slavery. Anna Edwards, a community activist, hailed the removal of the statue as “representative of the fact that we are throwing back the levels of injustice that black people and people of color have been feeling for so long under white hegemonic policies.”

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