Here's An 1869 Robert E Lee Letter Warning Against Building Statues
Sup. Lotta statue talk today. The following is a letter sent in 1869 from Robert E Lee to David McConuaghy, a civic leader in Gettysburg at the time who was working to get statues and monuments built honoring the battles.
Lexington Va: 5 Aug 1869
Absence from Lexington has prevented my receiving until today your letter of the 26th Ulto: enclosing an invitation from the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, to attend a meeting of the officers engaged in that battle at Gettysburg, for the purpose of marking upon the ground by enduring memorials of granite the position & movements of the Armies on the field.
My engagements will not permit me to be present, & I believe if there I could not add anything material to the information existing on the subject. I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife & to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.
Very respy your obt Sevt
R E Lee
General Lee from the damn grave! Stuntin’ from 6 feet under. From two centuries ago. Wowzers. This line is so relevant it’s scary:
I think it wiser moreover not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife & to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.
I’m a big statue guy — went on the record in defense of statues earlier today. I’m largely of the belief that now that we’ve got them, let’s not impulsively destroy them. However, General Lee really brings it with this line. Slams his big old confederate, foreshadowing dick down with this one. We just fought an incomprehensibly deadly war, with ourselves, based around wildly contentious feelings; why risk sparking again those feelings with monuments and statues?
And what’s happening today, 148 years later? The damn statues and monuments are reigniting baaaaaad feelings.
Sad. A real “told ya so” moment for General Lee.