2017-08-30 / Letters

Rebel history & monuments

Dear Editor:

Lately I have been hearing that our nation is beset by evil-doers who want to erase history by removing monuments to Confederate soldiers, most notably a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va.

I have to wonder what history it is that will be erased by removing these monuments. The history I know is that Robert E. Lee violated his sacred oath as a United States Army officer and took up arms against his compatriots. He led an army that fought and killed their countrymen to preserve the idea that it was right and just to own human slaves. Thankfully, they lost.

In any other nation on earth, the traitors would have been executed for their treason. In our great nation they were shown mercy. To his credit, Lee signed an oath of allegiance and asked for his citizenship to be restored. Did the rebels in his army follow his example? Most did not. Instead, they and their descendants schemed about new ways to subjugate the victims of slavery. The creation of many of the monuments at issue was a part of those schemes. That is the real history. Maybe it is time we set that right.

Bob Wurster

Berkeley Springs

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Mr. Wurster obviously doesn't

Mr. Wurster obviously doesn't know Civil War history or enough on R.E. Lee. He was asked to command the U.S. Army by Lincoln. Instead, he RESIGNED his commission in U.S. Army and went home. He then was asked to command Army of Northern Virginia. We have researched it for decades. Lee was for upholding Constitution and states' rights, sovereignty of states as part of a Republic. We were set up to be a Republic. The Constitution and state constitutions allowed for separation from the Republic if they so chose and believed the central government was not living up to its promises. He was not an advocate of slavery. No matter the outcome of the war, Lee arranged to free his slaves (inherited through wife's family, who was Martha Washington descendant). people have been taught war started over slavery. Not true. It was over southern states paying 80% of the taxes to fund federal budget. They paid tariff on raw materials sent to northern industry and high tax on "import" back south of finished goods. High taxes much like today's tax system. Confederates weren't rebels. If it was fought over slavery, why weren't slaves in northern states emancipated by Lincoln's 1863 Proclamation along with southern states' slaves? So, that nullifies the case of it being fought over slavery. Pres. Lincoln said in 1861 inaugural he had no intention of interfering in slavery issue. He had even planned to send all freed slaves back to African continent after the war. Freed blacks were not welcome in his state of Illinois or many other northern states. Furthermore, most southerners never owned slaves, and various states had stopped import of more slaves (which originally started in New England). They were enacting ways to phase out slavery over time. There were many abolition groups in south, also. Other states like Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware nearly seceded also. Maryland was forced to stay in the union by military under Lincoln's orders. Whether you believe these facts or not, imagine how you'd feel seeing a statue removed to your ancestors when it meant a remembrance of your ancestor? No malice intended. Lee and Jackson both were against slavery. Jackson didn't own slaves. Jackson even had school for blacks to learn to read/write in Lexington, Va when he was professor at VMI. Lee urged reconciliation after the war, which is evident in Remembrance Day events in Gettysburg and the events where reenactors come together. **Further, taking down these statues is taking down statues to U.S. Veterans. In 1868 Pres. Johnson pardoned all Confederates, and Congress made Confederate veterans full U.S. veterans in the 20th Century. Public law 85-425 section 410. May 1958. Public Law 810, 1929, War Dept. ordered to erect headstones and recognize Confederate gravesites as U.S. gravesites. Public Law 38, 59th Congress is another source. Many of those in the Confederacy during Civil War who were young went on to fight for the U.S. with Teddy Roosevelt, or their sons fought, and families carried on tradition defending U.S. in WWI and beyond. Antifa is a communist organization according to their own signs and tweets; they want a socialist government; and many protests show them coming to pro-free speech rallies with bats or worse. They are going after Mount Rushmore; groups are vandalizing Revolutionary War monuments, Catholic monuments, and gravestones, and peace monuments. BLM groups are touting death to police. But their voice is the only one that should be heard and heeded? Is it minority rule now rather than majority rule? Where does the "cleansing" end? Sound like Hitler in WWII? Various polls say the overwhelming majority of people, 62% and 95% on two, say leave the statues and monuments alone.