Robert E. Lee and his Body Servant Sell Washing Machines

Confederate generals such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were used to sell a wide range of consumer goods at the turn of the twentieth century throughout the South and beyond. Interestingly, this G.E. advertisement appeared in the New York Tribune. Let’s hear it for the cultural reach of the Confederate body servant.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

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5 comments… add one
  • Ken Noe Jan 5, 2017 @ 6:21

    Aside from the obvious–seriously???—I remember that Emory Thomas makes much of Lee’s fixation with getting socks from home. But I didn’t realize that it was a common enough trope in 1920 for an ad man to use it.

    Oh, and here’s a photo of a pair of Lee’s socks:

    • Kevin Levin Jan 5, 2017 @ 8:33

      He certainly had clean socks.

    • Andy Hall Jan 5, 2017 @ 9:18

      “But I didn’t realize that it was a common enough trope in 1920 for an ad man to use it.”

      Recall that this is right after the Great War, when the term “trenchfoot” came into the lexicon. The importance of having clean socks in the field probably struck a chord in 1920 that it wouldn’t have in (say) 1910.

      And don’t forget this Bill Mauldin classic from WWII.

      • Ken Noe Jan 5, 2017 @ 10:38

        Excellent point.

  • Scott Ledridge Jan 4, 2017 @ 21:40


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