Robert E. Lee’s Black Family Kevin Levin December 23, 2011 @KevinLevin 8 comments Civil War Culture, Memory, Slavery Robert E. Lee Click here for more on this story. Share this Post Pin It No related posts. 8 comments… add one Rob Baker December 23, 2011, 8:56 am wow. Great find. Reply Ray O'Hara December 23, 2011, 9:34 am It would be better to flog Neo-Cons with it if they were direct from Marse Robert. Light Horse Harry was a ne’er do well and that he visited the slave quarters after hours in hardly shocking. He did do good work in the Revolution but beyond that there is little about the man to laud. Reply Kevin Levin December 23, 2011, 9:43 am Why do we have to worry about whether there is something to laud? Reply Ray O'Hara December 23, 2011, 11:09 am We look to the past for inspiration as much as for dry facts. you yourself have often put people forward as examples to inspire and to emulate and honor. If we didn’t feel the need to laud past people we’d never bother to build statues to them. Reply Andy Hall December 26, 2011, 8:16 am This sort of situation is probably far more common than many Americans, black or white, recognize today. The Custis men were somewhat infamous in their day for their close, er, relations with female slaves, and George W. P. Custis, Lee’s father-in-law, was even the subject of a bad pun made about it that reportedly found its way into the Congressional Record. As you suggest, these revelations are really only troublesome for folks who choose to see historical figures as pure and unblemished heroes — or villains, as is sometimes the case. For the rest of us, who understand that people 150 years ago were just as complex as people are today, it doesn’t cause nearly as much indigestion. Reply Pat Young December 27, 2011, 7:41 am A friend of mine did research on his Irish ancestry and found out that he was descended from someone who was a collaborator with the British who participated in the eviction of poor tenant farmers during the Famine, some of whom may have starved to death. He told me some of the people in the village his ancestor was from still were angry at the collaborator, although not at my friend. I wonder how it might feel to be the African American descendant of a slave owner or defender of the slave republic. Reply Matt McKeon December 27, 2011, 8:43 am My family tree consists entirely of petty criminals, alcoholics, an occasional suicide and a few mental patients. It’s colorful! But if I thought heredity was destiny I wouldn’t get up in the morning. Reply Pat Young December 27, 2011, 11:22 am Back in the Kennedy years when genealogy was all the rage among Irish Americans tracing their heritage back to the High Kings, my mom used to laugh and say “If we weren’t bogtrotters, rebels and horse thieves why would we have bothered to come over to America?” Reply Leave a Comment Cancel Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.