Friday, April 9, 2010


One hundred and forty five years ago today Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to U.S. Grant at a place called Appomattox Court House. Lee, as you may know, was the military leader of a rebellion against the United States. He believed that people of European descent should be permitted to own people of African descent and do with them as they would. He himself owned some people. There is evidence that he once had some of his people whipped and brined. When the war began he was in the army. He had a choice. He could remember his oath to “bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me,” or he could abjure this oath and commit treason. He chose the latter course. He used his considerable skills to great advantage for the rebellion. Usually outnumbered, outgunned, and under-supplied, his brilliant leadership earned him the nickname “Mars' Robert,” and considerably lengthened a war which eventually took approximately 625,000 American lives.

Contrary to some expectations, he was not imprisoned for his role in the rebellion. He later served as president of a university that was eventually renamed in his honor. Today many Americans hold him in high regard as a great leader and moral exemplar.

Others remember him as a slaver, a traitor, and a man willing to kill thousands of people for one of the worst causes imaginable.

1 comment:

DM said...

Yeah, that about sums it up.