If you would like to submit a contribution to our Readers Blog section then follow this link. Be sure to include your full name, address and contact number otherwise your submission will not be considered for publication. We will contact you prior to publication.

Readers Blog: General Lee was not a supporter of slavery

I am very familiar with Charlottesville having lived there for almost a year in the early 1980s. 

It has a proud history, having been the home of three presidents, including Thomas Jefferson, and it was central to the formation of the American Republic, being the location of the new nation’s first university. Despite these proud associations and its central historical importance, probably the most revered figure among local Virginians was not that of Jefferson, but that of General Robert E Lee, whose name would always be followed by the sobriquet of “the finest gentleman who ever came out of the South”.

Lee was neither a supporter of slavery nor indeed of seccession, but as an honourable soldier felt duty bound to obey the wishes of his native state and to fight on behalf of the confederacy when the Commonwealth of Virginia voted to seccede from the US.

What is more important than his extraordinary courage and resourcefulness in twice bringing the North to the point of defeat despite its vast numerical and industrial superiority, was the fact that, in the wake of the Civil War, Lee became an icon for reconciliation between North and South. He absolutely refused to lead any southern civil resistance to the northern victory and when he died he was a hugely popular figure not just in the Southern states but in the North as well, with his former nemesis general Grant, now president, leading tributes to him.

For this reason alone he deserves honourable recognition in American history. Those who seek to destroy his memory for the most part do so not so much from a sense of historical sensibility but from a sense of antagonism to those they see as their enemies. Apart from the danger of disturbing the long rested ghosts of the Civil War, they would do well to take example from Lee’s honorable behaviour in insisting on reconciliation with former enemies.

Michael Leahy



Co Clare

More on this topic

Life sentence for white supremacist over fatal Charlottesville car attackLife sentence for white supremacist over fatal Charlottesville car attack

Jury recommends life plus 419 years for man who drove car into protestersJury recommends life plus 419 years for man who drove car into protesters

John David Washington: Charlottesville made me embarrassed for my countryJohn David Washington: Charlottesville made me embarrassed for my country

Thousands mark anniversary of deadly violence in CharlottesvilleThousands mark anniversary of deadly violence in Charlottesville


This Christmas remember that there is no such thing as cheap food.Buy local: Use your LOAF

As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner