Robert E. Lee, American hero or American traitor?

Discussion in 'Education' started by 42Presidents, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. 42Presidents
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    42Presidents CFT #1

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    For the most part, history has been kind to Robert E. Lee and his role as the commanding General of the Confederate Army. There is very little criticism for the man who led the South against the Union but is that because Lee was truly a great man or is it because no one has dared to be critical of such a wildly popular southern gentleman?
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2008
  2. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    He wasn't too shabby at West Point.
     
  3. 42Presidents
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    42Presidents CFT #1

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    True. His military record is rather commendable. Can't argue with that.
     
  4. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    He also was offered command of the US Army before resigned and went with Virginia instead.

    He was pigeonholed in a desk job by Jefferson Davis who appointed political kissasses as commanders instead of capable soldiers until attrition put him in the field. He had to prove himself and he did.

    He is considered one of the most brilliant strategists and tacticians in modern military history.

    However, I would argue that he was NOT an American Hero in the context of a hero for the US. He did participate in the US Mexico War and Harper's Ferry as a US officer where he acquitted himself well, but nothing heroic I am aware of.

    He was a hero to the Confederacy who was an American.
     
  5. 42Presidents
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    42Presidents CFT #1

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    Good points. I can't help but respect the man. He is very much part of this nation and what it became. He may have been on the wrong side but his moral foundation and military career was honorable.
     
  6. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    Lee's integrity as a soldier and a man were imeccable, from all I have ever read. He just held a belief that at least half this nation held that required force of arms to settle. The legality of that belief is still argued today even though an after the fact Supreme Court ruling ended any actual legal challenge and justified the actions of the US during the Civil War.

    He ended up on the side that lost. Someone stated that Lee was never granted his US citizenship after the War. Yet, the 1868 Supreme Court ruling basically stated states do not have a right to secede. That being the case, how did he ever lose it?
     
  7. editec
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    editec Mr. Forgot-it-All

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    It is well known he was a man of honor.

    Sadly his sense of and loyalty honor lead him to support a dishonorable cause.

    Him and millions of others, I might add.
     
  8. Gunny
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    Gunny Gold Member

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    The cause was only "dishonorable" in hindsight by those who ride the victor's bandwagon. The cause at the time was not unlawful The war tiself tested that fact after-the-fact of secession.

    This argument has been had over and over and it always boils down to a Supreme Court ruling in 1869 that states that states had no right to secede which is based on nothing but assumption. There is no legislation prior to that to preclude secession.

    Further, by anyone's imagination, if one enters something as an experiement, the logical assumption is that if that "experiement" fails it gets shitcanned. The experiment known as the United States had failed in the eyes of the Southern states.

    With no legislation precluding leaving as freely as they entered, why would they NOT believe they could the same way they came? Some vague assumption that "everybody was supposed to know?" That doesn't fly in court today.

    However, the US threw the US Constitution out the window for about 20 years during the Civil War and "Reconstruction." Both Lincoln and Congress committed transgression against it that would have lawyers at every level screaming their lungs out. NSA wiretapping pales in comparison.

    I'd say who was "dishonorable" is a matter of debate. At the intellectual level, the US rewriting the rules after-the-fact to justify its actions does not legitimize the actions of the US.
     
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  9. dilloduck
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    dilloduck Diamond Member

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    Robert E. Lee Quotes

    too many good quotes to post here
     
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    Last edited: Jul 31, 2008
  10. Voltaire
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    Voltaire Libertarian Party

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    One thing is for sure, he's a Virginian Hero. I'm proud he defended our state.

    When I recently visited the Lee family seat, Stratford Hall, I was struck by some conflicting emotions. The so-called Virginia aristocracy gave rise to some of the great thinkers of our early Republic...but their large landholdings were built up on the backs of slaves, and ANY sort of aristocracy runs counter to the founding ideals of our nation. Yes, the Virginia planters lived nowhere near as lavishly as their English counterparts, and yes, the notion of slavery was widely recognized as a great evil by the educated people in the colony. However, failing to address slavery in the constitution was one of the first and most catastrophic failures of the American experiment.

    As far as Lee goes, I greatly admire him. I think his main issue, oddly enough, was his deep religious conviction. From what I've gathered from quotes attributed to him at different stages during his life, he was so convinced that the Christian god was a benevolent and omniscient being, that there was no way he would allow an institution like slavery to persist unless it served some sort of purpose. This led Lee to fall prey to the paternalistic views which marred the thinking of many educated Southerners.
     

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