Most of you are no doubt aware that 2007 is the 200th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s birth. There will be a great deal of celebration and perhaps even a little history to go along with it. A reader was kind enough to draw my attention to the Virginia Senate Joint Resolution No. 382 which among other things established a "joint subcommittee to plan and coordinate the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of Robert E. Lee. Report." The following section lays out who will serve on the committee:
RESOLVED by the Senate, the House of Delegates concurring, That a joint subcommittee be established to plan and coordinate the 200th anniversary celebration of the birth of Robert E. Lee. For this occasion, the joint subcommittee is hereby designated the official Robert E. Lee Memorial Commission of the Commonwealth. The joint subcommittee shall have a total membership of 14 members that shall consist of six legislative members, five nonlegislative citizen members, and three ex officio members. Members shall be appointed as follows: two members of the Senate to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; four members of the House of Delegates to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates in accordance with the principles of proportional representation contained in the Rules of the House of Delegates; two nonlegislative citizen members, one of whom shall represent the Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and one of whom shall represent the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to be appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules; and three nonlegislative citizen members, one of whom shall represent the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association, one of whom shall represent the Confederate Memorial Literacy Society, and one of whom shall represent Washington and Lee University to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates. The Director of the Department of Historic Resources, the Executive Director of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction shall serve as ex officio members without voting privileges. Nonlegislative citizen members of the joint subcommittee shall be citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Unless otherwise approved in writing by the chairman of the joint subcommittee and the respective Clerk, nonlegislative citizen members shall only be reimbursed for travel originating and ending within the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purpose of attending meetings. If a companion joint resolution of the other chamber is agreed to, written authorization of both Clerks shall be required. The joint subcommittee shall elect a chairman and vice chairman from among its membership, who shall be members of the General Assembly.
Additional "technical support" will be provided by the Department of Historical Resources, Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Department of Education. Someone please point out to me where the hell are the historians. Notice there is no one from the Museum of the Confederacy, Library of Virginia, National Park Service or the Virginia Historical Society.
With this make-up we can anticipate numerous lecture series like the one set for April which is being sponsored by the Stephen D. Lee Institute. The title of the event is "Robert E. Lee: Hero or Traitor?" With a title like that you can expect some heavy-duty historical thinking. Here is a description provided on their website:
2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Robert E. Lee, one of America’s most revered individuals. But opinions are changing in this era of Political Correctness. Was Lee a hero whose valor and leadership were surpassed only by his honor and humanity? Or was he a traitor whose military skill served a bad cause and prolonged an immoral rebellion against his rightful government?
To many, Robert E. Lee is a remote figure, a marble icon. To others he was simply a great battlefield commander. But Lee was much more; his character shines brightly from the past, illuminating the present. The Symposium will cover Lee’s views on government and liberty, his humane attitudes toward race and slavery, Lee and the American Union, Lee as inspired commander and his relationship with the Army, Lee as a Christian gentleman, and the meaning of Lee for today.
I love the attention to character evaluation in the form of mutually exclusive choices: Was he this or that? I have to hand it to them, the conference organizers apparently chose just the right people to discuss this topic. They include among other Ron Maxwell and Thomas DiLorenzo. If anyone actually attends this event please let me know if they ever get around to talking about history.