I know that newspapers operating in the heart of Civil War country feature articles and letters to the editor to attract readers, but there is no reason to print the kind of drivel that has appeared in the last few weeks in the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. Now that I think of it a series of articles on secession back in November 2005 was the subject of one of my earliest posts. The subject of recent weeks has been Robert E. Lee. Here is a small sample of letters to the editor for your enjoyment.
From 10/12/06: Returning home from a church meeting, Lee sat at the supper table and was about to say grace. The general could not say a word and slumped down in his chair. It is believed that he had a stroke. It has been written that Lee’s grief for the Southern people, some of whom were made poor by the War Between the States, may have contributed to his failing health.
From 10/16/06: While Lee was an undeniably talented military leader and an honorable man by the standards of his time, no amount of mythology and hero worship can obscure the fact that Robert E. Lee led the armed struggle to keep black people in bondage.
From 10/23/06:The seceding states were not seeking to overthrow the federal government, but were reclaiming the rights they had voluntarily granted to the federal government. Gen. Lee certainly respected that and the 10th Amendment. Sad to say, President Lincoln sent federal troops into Maryland’s state capital in order to prevent Maryland’s right to decide for or against secession. Lincoln also deployed "terrorism" in order to cripple the South, through William Sherman’s leadership. Significant enough, criminals were released to join Union ranks and would have been among the "terrorists." And yet Lincoln, unconstitutionally, established tribunals for "Northerners" who sympathized with the seceding states. Gen. Lee surely understood the constitutionally limited powers of the federal government, whereas President Lincoln disregarded the Constitution. The founders gave us a constitutional republic, not a constitutional monarchy.
From 10/24/06: I know of no one with the slightest knowledge of history who would agree with such nonsense. To suggest that Lee did not do his duty is beyond ridiculous. Robert E. Lee was one of the greatest Virginians and Americans who ever lived. As a loving father (read "Lee’s Daughters"), devoted husband and son (one need only read surviving letters), educator, nation’s healer, and one of the finest military generals of all time, Robert E. Lee stands as one of the greatest men in history. He was truly a hero. I’ve taught my children and my students about his character and dedication. We should all strive to emulate those qualities. Robert E. Lee essentially gave up every material possession to defend his family and native state. He was opposed to secession and slavery, but he could not aid a foreign country that was illegally invading Virginia.
Who needs Douglas S. Freeman, Emory Thomas, Thomas Connelly, Gary Gallagher, Michael Fellman, and Richard McClaslin when you have the good readers of the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. Is this what Carl Becker had in mind when he used the phrase, "Everyman His Own Historian"?