Controversial Statue in Charlottesville: who was general Lee?

  • Étienne Paré

    Sunday, 13 August, 2017 17:04

    Sunday, 13 August, 2017 17:14

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    Clashes between supporters of extreme-right and anti-racist activists have degenerated, yesterday, in Charlottesville in the State of Virginia, when a white supremacist went into a group of counter-protesters with his car, killing one person and injuring 19 others.

    Behind all this agitation: it was the willingness of Charlottesville to rip down a statue of the controversial general of the south Robert Lee.

    But who was this man?



    First loyal to the Union

    When States slavery began to secede in 1861, the general Lee remains loyal to the president Abraham Lincoln. It is only when his home State, Virginia, left the Union, he in turn joins the confederate States.

    A hero of war?

    It will lead eventually the confederate troops from 1862 until the end of the Civil War, in 1865. The general Lee will lead his army to a few victories before having to capitulate.

    For the nostalgic of the south by slavery, Lee was a war hero. However, some historians challenge today doubt its talent of military strategists.

    An abolitionist?

    Some of his admirers assert, that the general Lee was actually opposed to slavery, although he had led the army of the south. In fact, in 1856, Robert Lee wrote to his wife that slavery is a moral evil and political.”

    However, what they fail to say is that he continues his letter by stating that “the blacks are immeasurably better [in the U.s.] than in Africa, morally, socially, and physically” and that “the instruction painful as they are undergoing is necessary for their education and their race.”

    General Lee had himself a dozen slaves.

    Rehabilitated in the history

    The general Lee has been rehabilitated in the history by president Gerald Ford in 1975 in recognition of his role in the reunification of the country after the Civil War.

    Nonetheless, it remains associated with racism and slavery. For the past few years, many claim that the statues at his effigy, which are always erected in several cities in the south of the country, are erased from the landscape.

    Charlottesville would become the second large american city to deny the memory of the controversial general after New Orleans, which has demolished his monument last may.



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