Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

Source: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA (and later and for a time, all Confederate forces), was one of my first heroes and role models, and he remains so to this day. He was not only a great general (if I ever speak of “the General,” without further modification, I am speaking of Lee), but a great Christian gentleman.

But although he was a great man, he was not a perfect man: those who do not understand how both statements can be true understand little of human nature, or indeed of the nature of reality. The linked article does not whitewash the General, but it definitely shows his greatness. Well worth a read, and I commend it, dear readers, to your attention.

One note: I am not a huge fan (to put it mildly) of Federal Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He permitted, if not actually enabled, the horrific actions of Sherman and Sheridan; and he was little more caring for his own men than for his opponents, being willing to sacrifice his own soldiers in a most callous fashion to obtain his victories: it is not without reason that he was nicknamed “Butcher Grant,” by Northern journalists.

But he was not entirely without honour, either, at least toward people he considered to be personal friends – as he apparently did General Lee, with whom he had served in the Mexican War. It is well-known that he gave honourable terms to the surrendering Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, even allowing the Confederate soldiers to keep their rifles (a major concession, for a defeated army).

What is less well-known is his personal intervention on Lee’s behalf, after the War, as recounted here:

“Later, when Lee was indicted for treason by a federal grand jury, with the threat of arrest and possible execution hanging over him, he appealed to Grant, noting that the terms of his army’s surrender included the stipulation—drafted by Grant himself—that ‘each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.’

“Grant concurred with Lee’s interpretation and urged Lee to apply for a federal pardon, which Grant said he would endorse. Lee did so, sending the documents to Grant, who indeed forwarded them on to President Andrew Johnson with his endorsement. (The application would be ‘lost,’ and Lee’s citizenship would not be restored until 1975—but that is another story.) What Lee did not know was that Grant quietly let it be known that he would resign from the army if Lee were to be arrested.”

I believe in giving credit where due, and this action is certainly to Grant’s credit. I will only add that it’s a shame his sense of honour was not a bit more general. But, again, human nature is what it is…

 

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“In honorable memory of all Confederate soldiers…” | Julian Enders

Source: Julian EndersIn Honor Of Our Southern Ancestors And Confederate Soldiers | Facebook

Glory in grey!

With everything else that has been going on, both in my own life and in the wider world, it is almost – but not quite – possible to lose sight of the fact that the assault on Southern history, heritage, culture, and iconography continues. The assault on the Confederacy – which did not end in 1865, but merely went dormant for a while, and now continues under other means – is only one front in the larger war against Western civilization, but it is an important one.

The iconography, and the example, of the Confederacy, representing brilliant and glorious resistance against a centralizing and despotic tyranny, continues to inspire and give hope to untold millions, not only in this nation but around the world. Is it any wonder that the proponents of globalism – whether corporate or governmental, or the diffuse and many-headed hydra of cultural Marxism – is determined to do all they can to stamp out that inspiration?

But they will fail. Because the spirit of the Confederacy is the spirit of human freedom, liberty, and self-determination – among the good gifts of a benevolent Creator – and though the embers of that spirit may gutter low and even appear to be smothered for a time, they cannot be wholly extinguished. And, in time, some breath of circumstance will blow upon them, and stir them back into glorious flame!

Deo Vindice!

God will vindicate!

The Confederates

Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine

The acting assumption seems to be that if only we can erase any memory of the Confederacy and slavery, racism will finally be a thing of the past… [However,] it’s worth pointing out that before we tear men apart, or tear down their statues, we are duty bound to know the facts of the case, no matter our personal feelings toward, or disagreements with, the male in question.

Source: Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee – Crisis Magazine

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of General Robert E. Lee – “Marse Robert” (“Master Robert”), to his devoted men – in 1870, just over five years after he had reluctantly surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, in the realization that he had done all he could do, and prolonging the conflict any further would simply result in still more senseless death and destruction.

Although he was the greatest of many great Southern generals (and indeed, among the greatest military leaders of any land and of any time), he had never been a secessionist, and only reluctantly resigned his commission in the United States Army when it became clear that he would have to choose between what he – along with many, both North and South – saw as a voluntary Union of sovereign States, and his beloved home state of Virginia, “the Old Dominion”: it would not be possible to remain loyal to both.

He also was personally opposed to slavery, holding it to be a “great moral and political evil,” but believed that its abolition should be gradual and equitable to all parties concerned – rather than the sudden, violent, and disorganized way in which it actually occurred, which has contributed to both resentment, and many practical problems, ever since. In this, I think he was rather prescient. Continue reading “Defy Mob Justice by Celebrating the Life of Robert E. Lee | Crisis Magazine”

On “Silent Sam,” Massachusetts, and complicity

Image result for silent sam

There is a meme making the rounds to the effect that Massachusetts – of all places! – was the first colony to legalize slavery, doing so in 1641.

Well, guess what? It’s true. I’ve confirmed it from multiple reputable sources online (here is a link to the most concise one I’ve found; some of the following dates come from this timeline).

In addition, in 1643, the New England Confederation, a “military alliance of the English colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven,” adopted a fugitive slave law, meaning that an escaped slave, if found, would be returned to his or her master. And in 1650, Connecticut legalized slavery. Note: Virginia didn’t pass its fugitive slave law until 1657, although it did pass a law allowing blacks to hold slaves (!) in 1654.

In 1652, Massachusetts required all black and Indian (Native American) servants to receive military training, just like white citizens; but ten years later, in 1662, rescinded that decree, no longer allowing them training in arms. New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire passed similar laws restricting the bearing of arms by blacks, in that same year.

Also, the slave trade in North America (although they were originally indentured servants; lifelong servitude was not a thing in the early days) began with the launching of the first slave-carrying ship, the “Desire,” in 1636. Care to guess where she was built and launched? Again, Massachusetts.

Now, I’m not beating up on Massachusetts. I love the Bay State, its topography and climate, its quaint villages, its glorious Fall foliage, its delicious seafood, and its many and (mostly) positive contributions to our collective history, from Lexington and Concord to its intimate connection with the sea (did I mention seafood?).

But part of that seafaring tradition included the slave trade, part of the “Triangle Trade” (a.k.a. “Triangular Trade”) that linked the American colonies to Europe (especially Britain) and Africa in a network of raw materials, finished goods, and slave labor.

All of the American colonies, later States, were complicit in that trade, either directly, or by benefiting from slave labor in the production of raw materials such as cotton, tobacco, and sugar, among other products. And the fact that New England had abolished slavery in its own territories did not prevent it from profiting mightily from that still going on elsewhere.

On the subject of indenture and slavery, in 1640, a runaway African indentured servant, John Punch, was sentenced to lifelong servitude for the crime of running away. Note: that was a sentence, in punishment for a crime. Arbitrary enslavement did not begin until the case of John Casor (1655), who was ruled by a court to be enslaved for life to Anthony Johnson: ironically, Johnson was an African-born former indentured servant who had completed his term and set himself up as a tobacco farmer, with indentured servants – and now, a slave, the first “official” one – of his own.

Incidentally, only about 10% of enslaved Africans (mostly captured and sold to Europeans, or white Americans, by rival African tribes) ended up in North America, where, as indicated above, they originally became indentured servants, but were later enslaved; the vast majority went to Central or South America (primarily Brazil) or the Caribbean Islands, where they all became slaves (see here for more detailed figures).

Why am I mentioning these things? Because there is a tendency to treat Southern folks, here in the U.S. – those who seceded and formed the Confederacy, from 1861-1865 – as if they were uniquely culpable in the slave trade, and slavery in general. The truth is rather different.

The history of slavery itself is ancient almost beyond reckoning, and worldwide in scope; but the history of slavery in America is also highly complex and multifaceted: including both sub-Saharan Africans selling other Africans into slavery to Europeans (later white Americans), and free blacks here owning slaves, as well as considerable involvement by Northern interests, including after slavery had officially been abolished in New England.

My point in all of this? It just underlines the absurdity of treating the South, and particularly the old Confederacy, as somehow uniquely culpable in the issue and institution of slavery, which it clearly was not; and using this fallacy as an excuse to tear down monuments and other historic iconography. The most recent example of this iconoclastic fervor is the toppling of the “Silent Sam” monument at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – erected as a tribute to the more than 1,000 UNC students who fought, and particularly the 287 who died, in the War Between the States.

But Silent Sam is far from the only casualty in this war against history as expressed in monumental art: many other monuments have been attacked, damaged, defaced by graffiti, or broken down; and some have been removed, under color of law, by municipal authorities who ought to know better. The justification offered is that the South was fighting to protect slavery – a notion that is, at best, simplistic, and at worst, completely and tragically incorrect – an institution for which the Confederacy (so the argument goes) was uniquely culpable. The falsity of that notion is, I hope, amply demonstrated above.

If we are to eliminate every vestige of slavery in America, we will have no choice but to eliminate a lot of good, too. Great men can do terrible things, and flawed men can do great things. The complexity of humans is part of what makes us interesting. But we lose all of that – and impoverish both ourselves, and future generations – when we choose to obsessively mono-focus our attention on a single issue, such as slavery.

Should we ignore it, and pretend that it was of no consequence? No, of course not! It was and is (for it still exists, in parts of Africa and the Middle East, and human trafficking is a thing even here in the U.S.) a moral evil, and must be decried as such.

But judging people, events, and even whole regions solely on the basis of their connection with slavery narrows our focus, blinds our perception, and cripples our judgment. Not for nothing do serious academic historians consider “presentism” – the tendency to look at the past through the lens of current-day standards and sensibilities – to be dangerously misleading.

We would be better off, I think, if more people today heeded an aphorism my late mother often quoted:

“There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it ill-behooves any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”

Or as our Lord Jesus Christ once said, “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.”

Bishop: Tree plaques in Brooklyn honoring Gen. Lee to be removed | Newsday

Plaques memorializing Gen. Robert E. Lee mark a

Two plaques honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that mark a maple tree outside a Brooklyn church will be removed Wednesday, the spiritual leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island said Tuesday.

Source: Bishop: Tree plaques in Brooklyn honoring Gen. Lee to be removed | Newsday

Sadly, the Episcopal Church is showing its recurrent idiocy and lack of both historical perspective and breadth of vision once again. The attacks on General Lee, of which this is but the latest of many, are particularly unjust and absurd, given the actual and expressed beliefs of the man himself.

Here, for a more balanced view, are a few excerpts from an essay entitled “The Real Robert E. Lee,” from the website of the Abbeville Institute’s “Review”:

• “First, Lee deplored slavery, describing it as a ‘moral and political evil’ in a letter to his wife, Mary Anna. Lee told her that they should give ‘the final abolition of human slavery…the aid of our prayers and all justifiable means in our power,’ praying for ‘the mild and melting influence of Christianity’ over ‘the storm and tempest of fiery controversy’ driving America to disunion. Lee elsewhere called slavery a ‘national sin’ for which he feared America would be punished.”

• “Second, Lee initially opposed secession, but his loyalty to his native state – the Commonwealth of Virginia – surpassed his loyalty to the abstraction of the Union…. Although Lee considered secession to be wrongful, he could not countenance a government based on force of arms rather than consent of the governed.”

• “Third, Lee did not believe he was fighting for the particular issue of slavery, but for the foundational principles of American freedom – self-government, independence, and the constitutional rights of the states. As the Confederacy rejected three offers from Lincoln to exchange submission to the Union for the protection of slavery, Lee’s convictions were confirmed. ‘Our sole object,’ Lee wrote to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, ‘is the establishment of our independence and the attainment of an honorable peace.'”

“Before his very first battle at Cheat Mountain, Lee did not encourage his men to fight for slavery, but for home, hearth, kith, and kin. ‘The eyes of the country are upon you. The safety of your homes and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self-government, liberty, and peace shall find in him a defender.’

“Lee supported states’ rights not because they protected slavery, but because, as the Founding Fathers understood, they were the ‘safeguard to the continuance of a free government’ and ‘the chief source of stability to our political system.’ As Lee explained to Acton, ‘The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.’

“Lee further noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom were secessionists in their day, opposed ‘centralization of power’ as the gateway to ‘despotism.’ According to Lee, ‘The South has contended only for the supremacy of the Constitution, and the just administration of the laws made in pursuance to it.’”

This is a man who should be honoured, and whose thoughts, expressed in his writings, should be taught to generations of school-children! As President (and former 5-star General and Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in Europe during WW II) Dwight D. Eisenhower put it, in a letter to a correspondent questioning Eisenhower’s admiration for General Lee,

“General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history. 

“From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s calibre would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.”

Nor was Eisenhower alone in his esteem for Lee. As the Abbeville article recounts, President Theodore Roosevelt – one of the more famous American progressives, albeit one who has also been attacked, in recent times – described Lee as “the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth.” Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to Lee as “the noblest American who had ever lived and one of the greatest commanders known to the annals of war.” And according to another staunchly progressive / liberal President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.”

Lee was not perfect, of course; there has been precisely one perfect Man, and he was born in Bethlehem and died on the Cross on Calvary. But that makes it all the more sad that, instead of using the present controversy as a “teachable moment” to show forth the truth that in God’s Providence, great men can be flawed and flawed men can be great, the Episcopal Church has chosen instead to kowtow to – nay, to embrace – willful historic ignorance, presentism (see also this), and political correctness.

We are all, present and future generations, impoverished by such choices.

Nathan Bedford Forrest | Abbeville Institute

https://americangallery.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/general-nathan-bedford-forrest.jpg?w=505&h=610

Source: Nathan Bedford Forrest | Abbeville Institute

While Nathan Bedford Forrest, the “Wizard of the Saddle,” is fascinating in his own right [*], this essay is even more important for what it says about our own time. Following are a few of the more prescient words:

“So in a very literal sense the Civil War was the first World War. It not only created a powerful nation of organized resources and potential military might, but the greater world wars took their pattern from the American one, even to the trench system Lee set up at Petersburg. These wars were internecine, all of them; but it was not in this that we find the crucial resemblances. In view of a common Christian culture, wars within Europe would of necessity be internecine, but at least at one time there were Truces of God. What this country brought to Europe was unconditional surrender…

“The result of these wars has been the self-exhaustion of Europe, the loss of prestige before the world, and another possible shift in power from West to East. We seem to accept this with a fatalism strangely foreign to us [indeed it is, given the history of Europeans prior to this age]. The battle of Lepanto was fought and won by a Christian prince [to which I would add: as was the battle at the Gates of Vienna!]. Since that time Christendom, if we can still call it such, has been free of danger [until recently], but there is a strange resemblance between that time and this. The Christian princes were divided among themselves as in our world wars; they were threatened by their own invention, the firearm, which the Turk added to the first use of the disciplined regiment.

“We have only to remember Spengler’s warning as to the folly of teaching the techniques by which the West had overwhelmed the world and wonder [is not this also true today, given that the third-world population explosion which threatens to overwhelm the West was made possible due to Western advances in agriculture and medicine?]. Will the time come when we will pray for another Lepanto? There is no Christian prince today strong enough to take a stand. This country [the U.S.] is presumably strong enough at least to risk a defense, but to stand always on the defensive is to prepare for defeat…”

I am reminded of the words J.R.R. Tolkien placed in the mouth of Boromir, prince of Gondor, in The Lord of the Rings: “Gondor wanes, you say? Yet Gondor stands. And even the end of its strength is still very strong.” True enough; yet only with the aid of the Riders of Rohan was Gondor able to break the siege by the forces of Mordor – and even then, were it not for the destruction of the One Ring and consequent overthrow of the Dark Lord, Sauron, that victory would have been but a respite.

Where are our Riders of Rohan, our Winged Hussars? And how shall we unmake the “One Ring” of our own age?

 


 

* And no, to get this old shibboleth out of the way, Forrest was not the founder of the KKK, though he was elected – in absentia, and with neither his knowledge nor desire – its head. Rather, he used his considerable moral authority to disband that first incarnation of the Klan, when it had ceased to be a protective organization, and become one engaged in mere vigilante and often criminal activities.

 


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