‘…sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments…’ President Donald J. Trump
In a letter to the New York Times three years
before the war General Robert E. Lee
described slavery per se as ‘a moral
and political evil’ and, in the States,
‘a greater evil to the white man’
than the black. In 1857 Lee
had been his father-in-law’s executor.
George Custis had manumitted his slaves
on his death bed there and then but ‘no white man
was in the room’. Lee promised them freedom
in five years. Three escaped but were caught.
The plantation’s overseer refused
to whip them. The local constable agreed.
They were stripped and lashed many times – the men
fifty, their sister twenty. ‘Lay it on well!’
the General ordered. After the war
Lee refused an invitation to join
senior officers from the Blue and the Gray
at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg
to mark key moments with granite monuments.
‘I think it wiser,’ he replied, ‘not to keep
open the sores of war.’
Note: The poem, with here the addition of an extra line, was first published on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on 31.8.17.