Civil War Chat

While listening to a radio interview about the future of Robert E. Lee’s Charlottesville, Virginia statue I learned just how far some historians go to demonize Lee. While the critic conceded that Lee’s statue should not be torn down he argued that it should be updated with qualifying signage to reveal the general’s underlying racism. He claimed that Lee was “livid” when the general learned of the Emancipation Proclamation and referenced a January 1863 letter as evidence. After investigating I discovered that the applicable letter was one Lee wrote on January 10, 1863, which was nine days after the second version of the Proclamation. (Keep in mind the term: “Second Version.”) The letter made a single reference to the “degradation” that would result if his army were not reinforced.

The problem with the historian’s claim is summed up by Mark Twain’s humor: “Most things did not happen when they were…

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