Robert E. Lee and the statues commemorating the Confederacy may be viewed as things of “beauty” that will be “greatly missed,” by Donald Trump.
Writings of Lee reveal that he was not a fan of statues honoring Civil War generals, fearing they might “keep open the sores of war.” Lee was often consulted about proposals to erect monuments to Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson and others in his lifetime, stated by Jonathan Horn, Historian.
Lee in 1866 in a letter to fellow Confederate Gen. Thomas L. Rosser wrote, “As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated, my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt … would have the effect of … continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”
Lee was invited in a meeting of Union and Confederate officers three years later to mark the placing of a memorial honoring those who took part in the battle of Gettysburg. He declined this invitation writing a letter: “I think it wiser not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings engendered.”
However civic and heritage groups still continued to erect numerous monuments to Lee, commander of the Confederate armies during the Civil War, after his death in 1870. These memorials are now under fire by those who see them as symbols of America’s dark legacy of slavery.
In 1856, Lee wrote letter to his and called slavery a moral and political evil. Though, he also was a slaveholder. In the same letter he wrote: “The painful discipline they (blacks) are undergoing is necessary for their instruction as a race.”
Statue of Lee, amid controversy, was removed from its pedestal in a New Orleans square in May. Officials in Charlottesville, Virginiaappealed to remove a bronze statue of Lee from a city park, prompting protests by white nationalist groups that turned deadly last weekend. Lee look prescient due to conflict over Civil War that symbols some 150 years after the war ended.
Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker. He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive, stated by Jonathan Horn author of a Lee biography titled “The Man Who Would Not Be Washington.”