The tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, took the place of what would have been a peaceful and lawful protest against the Charlottesville City Council’s purpose to remove the city’s monument to Robert E. Lee, long revered in the South and elsewhere.
Jefferson Davis remarked in a Memorial Speech following Lee’s death:
“This good citizen, this gallant soldier, this great general, this true patriot, had yet a higher praise than this or these; he was a true Christian.”
By the way, Lee released the slaves he had inherited in 1857 by 1862, long before the end of the war, when he was certain that each had the training and means to succeed economically on their own. He was not in favor of slavery but knew that their transition from slavery to freedom required thoughtful preparation.
The demonization of Lee, Confederate leaders, and the Confederate symbols is based on a false narrative of American history. How to handle the slavery question was an issue in the North-South conflict, but not in the inflated moral sense that most people assume. Yet the myth that the Civil War was a moral crusade against slavery persists because of past and current political agendas that should receive more penetrating public and academic scrutiny. The war was, as one Southern pastor remarked, about “Sectionalism,” which covers many breaches of regional trust. I do not want to digress, but the unwarranted demonization of all things Southern is a major cause of racial unrest that demands a more honest and courageous generation of politicians to correct.
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