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‘Clouds Of Glory’ And Robert E. Lee

Celebrated biographer Michael Korda brings us a deep new look at General Robert E. Lee.

Robert E. Lee, pictured here in 1863. (Heritage Auction Archives)

Robert E. Lee, pictured here in 1863. (Heritage Auction Archives)

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac from the nation’s capital.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and so many American soldiers’ remains famously rest on land that was the home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  It’s fitting somehow.  Lee led the armies that would have divided the Union.  And yet in his personal nobility he became a point of reconciliation.  Symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern cause, and American icon.  A new biography brings us the southern general – and his complexity – once more.  This hour On Point:  Robert E. Lee.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Michael Korda, writer, biographer and novelist. Author of the new book “Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee.” Also author of “Ulysses S. Grant: The Unlikely Hero” and “Ike: An American Hero.”

Gary Gallagher, professor of history at the University of Virginia. Author of “Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty,” “The Union War,” “Lee and His Army in Confederate History,” Lee and His Generals in War and Memory” and “The Confederate War.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Christian Science Monitor: Clouds of Glory — “In many ways, the gentlemanly and intensely patriotic Robert E. Lee was an unlikely champion of the Confederacy. He found the notion of secession ‘silly’ and dangerous, while fervently hoping that the union could be saved short of a war that he correctly believed would prove ruinous. Although he owned several slaves and in 1857 inherited dozens more from his father-in-law, he was not fond of the institution and was committed to freeing his human property in good time – which he did in 1862, beating Lincoln to the punch. Later, when the war was going badly for the South, he urged, in vain, that slaves be given the opportunity to fight for their freedom, in the Confederate States Army.”

Publishers Weekly: Books of the Week — “In this exhaustive study, Korda examines the life of Robert E. Lee from start to finish, illuminating not just the man, but his extended family and the society which produced him. While Korda’s treatment verges on hero worship, he explores Lee’s qualities and contradictions thoroughly, approaching him first and foremost as a state patriot, loyal to Virginia before any other cause.”

Inside Higher Ed: Debate Over Robert E. Lee at Washington And Lee U. — “Black law students at Washington and Lee University, under a new group called ‘The Committee,’ have asked Washington and Lee University to take a series of steps to address ‘the racist and dishonorable conduct of Robert E. Lee.’ Lee served as president of the university after the Civil War, and has historically been revered at the institution. ”

Read An Excerpt From “Clouds of Glory” By Michael Korda

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  • 1Brett1

    Lee, supposedly, had freakishly tiny feet. He also preferred to spend his leisure time in knitting circles gossiping with ladies rather than being in the company of men engaging in manly pursuits.

    • JGC

      Lee apparently also desired “unlimited fried chicken”, according to Southern diarist Mary Chesnut. OK, Fantasy Fried Chicken Cook-Off: Colonel Sanders vs. General Lee. Who prevails?

      • 1Brett1

        Lee! Hands down! The quality of the chickens would have been superior, with the birds not only being free range but free of hormone treatments/antibiotics.

        • JGC

          Excellent point! But Colonel Sanders did possess that secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices, so I can’t help but wonder how General Lee would have countered that…

          • 1Brett1

            I thought about that…but, ulimately, the taste comes down to the quality of the chicken itself (although Lee also could very well have had access to parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme).

        • AnneDH

          With the birds being birds…

    • AnneDH

      That sounds like him. He was extremely conflicted about joining the Confederate cause. He only did so to defend his home state, Virginia.

      • 1Brett1

        I hope that aspect of Lee is discussed this morning. No doubt Lee was a formidable battlefield tactician, but I’ve often wondered if the fire in his belly, as it were, would have been more easily stoked had he been less conflicted?

        Lee was a very refined individual. While Grant would have preferred cigars and whiskey with the guys, Lee would have preferred reciting love sonnets to an audience of ladies.

        I am also a Virginian, living in the heart of Revolutionary and Civil War country, so I am interested in that period in history.

        • AnneDH

          I did a fair amount of reading about the Civil War some yrs ago.

          My impression of Lee is that, once committed to the cause, he proved out to be the best general of the war overall.

          Much like Washington, he was a sight to see in the saddle, and a genius at tactics. All his men fearfully respected him with good cause. Just one look told an individual where he stood with the man.

          His persona of tenaciousness and honor likely contributed to the very length of the war itself.

          • 1Brett1

            Excellent points…and my speculation is just that, with no indication/evidence that Lee’s sense of duty and honor ever lacked commitment.

          • 65noname

            sense of honor? sense of duty? he waged a muderous war in order to support slavery (from which he personally beneffeted). he
            violated his oath and duty to the US and the army by deserting and joining the conferderate terrorists.

          • 1Brett1

            Those concepts of duty and honor are subjective, no? Also, if you knew anything about Lee, you’d know that he was very much against secession/the Union being split up.

            One thing is certain, Lee was a brilliant linguist and would have felt a sense of duty and honor toward spelling words correctly; obviously, by your post, you have little regard for such standards.

          • 65noname

            dude,
            “lee, a great respecter of spelling but a disrespecter of freedom and human rights”. sounds like a great man. should be on his tombstone (and, by the way, whats your sourcec for your claim that lee was a great speeler?)
            as for your relativistic sense of “duty and honor”, well, anyone who ever chose one side or another in any dispute could raise the subjective, relative rationale. the bottom line is that lee was a slaver who chose to committ terroristic acts against the US in support of slavery. this from the same man who had no problem hounding and chasing john brown for attempted to end slavery.

          • 1Brett1

            Aww, you’re just trying to pick a fight of some sort/have had way, way too much coffee.

            I do apologize for any confusion, as my reply might have been misconstrued as an attempt at a conversation…As with all points in history and all historical figures, these are too complex and complicated to reduce history/historical figures to one dimension, yet I don’t detect any attempt on your part to analyze history with any nuance; it’s difficult to have any kind of conversation with such a person., by the way.

            That said, I detest the South’s ongoing mythologizing of people like Lee; and, as his character and loyalties are worth questioning, like many historical figures, his hands certainly had blood on them.

            I am a Southerner and live in the South, yet I have little patience for pride with respect to the Confederacy among Southerners.

            Your lack of spelling ability and his expertise as a linguist have little to do with his behaviors/acts as a general, etc. You make that false equivalency, not I; I was simply making a joke/mockery out of your hip shooting.

            His love of language was and is well known; a quick Google search would answer that question for you, if you actually have any genuine interest…

          • 65noname

            your most recent post was a weird joke that I just don’t understand, right?

          • AnneDH

            Lee’s sense of honor and duty translated to: Virginia 1st, USA 2nd.

            As the commentary pointed out, he considered slavery to be a necessary evil during his time that would eventually go away in a less painful way than to be forced out by war and massive bloodshed.

            Other slaveholders and the slaves themselves had various points of view on the issue; we tend now to focus only on extremes when looking back to the past.

          • 65noname

            others might say “slavery 1st, USA 2d”.
            so you consider fighting a war in order to end slavery an extreme position. instead should we wait for lee’s supposed “wise, merciful Providence” to end slavery as lee argued?

            and would the less “extreme” position have been to wait for lee’s “wise, merciful Providence” to end the holucost?

            of course, that would require that there really is a “wise, merciful providence” TO rely on.

          • AnneDH

            Sigh… I don’t see where in my post I stated any of it was MY opinion.

            I was merely trying to explain what I understood both from the broadcast and from reading I have done on the subject what the times & people were like during that era of history.

            My opinion is that this reliance on a “wise, merciful providence” is a kind of cop-out to avoid having to do the job of freeing his slaves himself, handing it down to the next generation instead.

            Imagine, if you can, what it must have been like for slaveholders: their entire way of life relying on slave labor, moral or not.

            They HAD to come up with what we today call lame excuses for keeping them and convince themselves that the blacks really were better off as slaves in order to maintain and be able hand down to their children the standard of living they had become used to.

            It’s human nature to do so. When we look back at historical cultures such as this, we must consider this powerful factor: human nature, for better or worse.

          • 65noname

            if I wrongly attributed thoughts to you, I apologize.
            I do think that to unduly take as serious what are obviously superfical rationalizations for profiting from evil gives too much credence to them and gives rise to accusations that those who reject those are one-sided and lacking in nuance.
            I’m well aware of all the arguments that were made in support of the confederecy, in support of slavery and to treat those who reject those arguments as lacking in nuance; I just think that they lack intellectual regour.

          • AnneDH

            Thank you.

            To respond to your characterization of arguments as ‘one-sided and lacking in nuance’, remember that back at that time, a far larger part of the population was religious than ours is today.

            Also, present-day society is far more complex than that of the 1850′s-60′s, so seemingly simple interpretations of issues are to be expected from that time.

            We have the huge benefit of hindsight, with two horrific world wars and other military conflicts, plus all the social & cultural history we have experienced since then. Not to mention the mess our economy is in, whatever the cause.

        • Ray in VT

          I have heard his strategic vision criticized for not realizing better how grand strategy (West and East, coastal blockade) was important to the overall war effort. Of course he was operating under somewhat limited conditions due to a lack of resources and the inability of the Confederate government to compel states to commit troops to particular fronts.

          • JGC

            So could we say that the Confederacy was defeated by their primacy of States’ Rights?

          • Ray in VT

            I think that I have heard it said that the Confederacy died of an idea.

          • JGC

            For President Jefferson to try to get the Southern governors and plantation owners to cooperate and donate their resources to the Cause, must have been like trying to herd so many Confederate cats.

          • AnneDH

            Their view of States’ Rights, as I understand it, was extreme: they gave little power to their central government.

            If they learned to acknowledge that more central government control was needed, they might have had a better chance.

            But I think, in the end, what did them in were more immediate, practical matters: being far outnumbered by the Northerners & severe lack of railroad and iron industry infrastructure.

          • JGC

            Perhaps some central government lessons to be learned from that today by certain political figures in certain states.

          • AnneDH

            Indeed.

          • AnneDH

            It would be nice to think that, but I think it would be lost on them.

      • 65noname

        meanwhile he killed 100′s of thousands of people in support of slavery

  • andrewgarrett

    Can you address the myth of Lee being a great general? Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg – it should be called Lee’s Charge – used tactics that were outdated decades before. And any general that didn’t pick up on their outdatedness decades earlier realized how outdated they were after the first few battles of the Civil War.

    Then there is Lee’s decision to fight on after Lincoln was re-elected. Fighting a loosing war before the election perhaps could be justified: had Lincoln lost the North might have given up. But after Lincoln was re-elected the North wasn’t giving up, and Lee simply wasted the lives of his men and the lives of other men.

    • AnneDH

      Both Gettysburg and Vicksburg were concurrent battles ending on July 4 1863.

      Up until then the Confederates had won most battles.
      This was what kept them going: they believed they were invincible, especially since they were so outnumbered.

      Yes, tactics were way behind technology of arms, which caused the outrageous loss of life on the battlefield. But adapting to the new precision of rifles & effect of the newly invented minie ball that they used would have taken too much time.

      I don’t believe Lincoln’s re-election had much to do with Confederate behavior. They believed him to be an ineffective clown and fully expected to win the war.

      Gettysburg & Vicksburg are considered the turning points of the war in favor of the northern cause.

    • red_donn

      One cannot judge an entire military career based off of singular poor decisions, even when they are spectacularly poor. Evaluating Napoleon’s career in this manner would likewise yield the belief that he was a poor general, starting with decisions around Leipzig.

      Lee had made many bold and risky maneuvers in the course of his battles which, if they had failed, would likewise have seemed suicidal or insane. A sense of being invincible had developed, in some degree, and a few of Lee’s conversations and letters leading up to this charge hint that the feeling had worn off on him, as did his reaction to its failure. It is a very, very common issue with great military commanders, but Lee had less margin for failure than most.

  • stephenreal

    In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country.

    I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race,
    & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former.

    Robert E. Lee, to Mary Anna Lee, December 27, 1856

    • 65noname

      meanwhile he was worth a fortune off the labor of his hundreds of slaves.

    • 65noname

      by the way you forrgot to include the rest of the letter:

      “The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline [of slavery] they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.”

      • J__o__h__n

        How noble of Lee and god to have their best interests at heart.

      • James

        So your saying he was about as racist and Lincoln?

        • Ray in VT

          Did Lincoln own other people? I think that the man who ultimately signed the Emancipation Proclamation could certainly be said to have been much less of a racist than the man who kept such people in bondage.

        • 65noname

          I said what I said in the comment; which was to quote the rest of the 12/27/56 letter that the slaver lee wrote to mary ann lee. if you want to know whether I agree with any of your opinions concerning lincoln, you’ll have to express those opinions since I can’t read your mind.

  • 65noname

    ‘in his personal nobility he became a point of reconciliation. Symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern cause, and American icon”.
    this guy was a slaver, hired people to whip his slaves, took part in treason that took the lives of 100′s of thousands, if not millions, of lives, and forced the US into a wartime economy. and he is being “cannonized” john brown attempted to end slavery and, at most was responsible for less than 20 deaths. he was hanged by the same government and is demonized by the same government and media that romantize the traitor lee.

  • J__o__h__n

    He was guilty of treason.

    • Ray in VT

      I know one of his descendants, and she once tried to give me a poor us line regarding the placement of the cemetery on Lee family lands, and I made the point that you have.

    • Jeff

      I’m not so sure he was guilty of treason, the “Union” was always a voluntary compact. The founders fully believed that states should have the right to leave the union at will, it wasn’t until Lincoln and the Civil War that we lost that view of states rights. Granted the reason for leaving the Union was due to the amoral institution of slavery, which is why Lincoln could reasonably argue that it was within his power to fight to keep the states in the Union.

      Had the Confederation been built on something that didn’t violate individual rights of human beings (i.e. high taxes), the argument that the Union could take up arms against Confederate states might have fallen on deaf ears.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        Actually no – when a state accepted the Constitution, it is illegal to back out. Otherwise, a state would back out out whenever they felt like it.

        Without this clause, the Constitution has no authority.

        • Jeff

          Please explain how the state Constitution of Texas offers up a “back out of the Union” clause?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_divisionism

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Who’s talking about a state constitution?

          • Ray in VT

            It doesn’t (as in the Federal Constitution does not allow for such).

      • J__o__h__n

        No they didn’t. That was the whole point of the war. Andrew Jackson certainly didn’t support the view that the union wasn’t binding so it wasn’t a new issue when the war started. Lincoln only claimed to fight for the union not to abolish slavery.

        • Jeff

          Andrew Jackson wasn’t a founder.

          • JGC

            Jackson was sort of like the Fifth Beatle of Founding Fathers.

          • jefe68

            What?

          • JGC

            Just like there are various people closely associated with the Beatles (like Brian Epstein, Pete Best and a few others) who are described as an unofficial “Fifth Beatle”, Andrew Jackson has sometimes been included as a satellite Founding Father in the expanded F.F. universe. No less an authority than Ron Paul Forums took a vote, and 40% of their voters agreed that Jackson was the last Founding Father (second place was James Madison at 35%).

            But really, jefe, my analogy works best if you don’t think too hard about it, or maybe have a beer or two first, if you do.

          • jefe68

            Um, Jackson was born in 1767 which would have made him 9 in 1776.

            Ron Paul forums? The more I hear about libertarians the more they seem like they live in la,la land.

          • JGC

            I guess it depends on if the definition of Founding Fathers is the narrow version of just those who participated in crafting the initial documents of the United States, or if, in the expanded version, includes those who participated in the battle to secure independence and later held prominent office in the early years of the Union.

            From another fine source, Wikipedia:
            “During the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Jackson, at age thirteen, joined a local militia as a courier. His eldest brother, Hugh, died from heat exhaustion during the Battle of Stono Ferry on June 20, 1779. Jackson and his brother Robert were captured by the British and held as prisoners; they nearly starved to death in captivity. When Jackson refused to clean the boots of a British officer, the officer slashed at the youth with a sword, leaving Jackson with scars on his left hand and head, as well as an intense hatred of the British. While imprisoned, the brothers contracted smallpox. Robert Jackson died on April 27, 1781, a few days after their mother Elizabeth secured the brothers’ release. After being assured Andrew would recover, Elizabeth Jackson volunteered to nurse prisoners of war on board two ships in Charleston harbor, where there had been an outbreak of cholera. She died from the disease in November 1781, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Jackson became an orphan at age 14.”

          • jefe68

            The Jackson families history reads like that of many families who fought and died in the War of Independence against the British. That still does not make him a Founding Father by any definition.
            I have to ask, do you agree with this notion? That Andrew Jackson was somehow a Founding Father?

          • jefe68

            Andrew Jackson had strong views on corporations that ring true today:

            “…unless you become more watchful…and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that the most important powers of Government have been given…away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.”

            —Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address to America, 1837

          • JGC

            There is so much to admire about Jackson–his strong character even under adversity at a young age during the Revolution, his populist warning about business interests–but then there is that horrible appointment of Taney as a justice on the Supreme Court, and decades of fallout from that (Dred Scott). Jackson really does seem to be a demarcation between eras, a 50+ year Big Bang of experimentation and foment and ferment of ideas in the founding and building of the U.S., all headed by Presidents that still make the top quartile or top third of all U.S. presidents to this day. Then, after Jackson, followed by a drought of mediocre, even downright horrible leadership for the next few decades (Presidents all judged by various markers to easily fall into the bottom third of U.S. presidents; it really is a remarkable cliff)…Jackson clearly isn’t a Founder in the mold of a Washington or Franklin of Jefferson, but he brought many fresh ideas to the table in the very early years of the Union, and definitely made his mark that reverberates to this day. I still can’t say Jackson is a Founding Father, but he definitely is a Fifth Beatle of Founding Fathers.

          • J__o__h__n

            I didn’t say he was a founder. I used him to establish that it goes back further than Lincoln.

          • Jeff

            Yet the president just before Jackson [John Quincy Adams], had the complete opposite viewpoint. Jackson also suggested that he didn’t have to listen to the Supreme Court when it came to Native American rights…Jackson seemed to do what he felt like rather than adhere to the past constitutional structures.

            John Quincy Adams had noted, on the fiftieth anniversary of the ratification of the Constitution, that “The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several states of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it!) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interests shall fester into hatred, the bands of political associations will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited states to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint.[italics added]” [Woods, Jr., 64.]

          • Ray in VT

            Care to point out the Constitutional basis for the view that the union was a voluntary compact that states could opt to leave from?

          • Jeff

            Sorry I thought giving you direct quotes/writings from the people who wrote the US Constitution would have been enough. Want federals paper references too?

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            John Adams wrote much of the Constitution. John Quincy Adams was his son, and did not write it.

          • Jeff

            Correct, I never said that John Q Adams wrote it, don’t assume…you know the saying.

          • J__o__h__n

            John Quincy Adams didn’t write the Constitution.

          • Jeff

            Sure, but Jefferson did help author that work he also wrote the Declaration of Independence. J. Quincy might have some insight to what his father thought and believed who was a founding father and they were nearly identical when it came to viewpoints on issues of the time.

          • J__o__h__n

            Jefferson didn’t help author the Constitution. He was in France.

          • Jeff

            Although Thomas Jefferson was in France serving as United States minister when the Federal Constitution was written in 1787, he was able to influence the development of the federal government through his correspondence.

            http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jefffed.html

          • Ray in VT

            That isn’t quite like taking part in the actual debates and horse trading that went on Independence Hall in Philadelphia that summer.

          • Jeff

            Correct, I did not say that he did.

          • J__o__h__n

            “giving you direct quotes from the people who wrote the US Constitution” it appears that you did

          • Jeff

            Jefferson helped to contribute the US Constitution, my references also included the Virginia, Rhode Island and New York delegations that directly contributed to the US Constitution. Giving quotes/writings from the founding fathers comment was referencing those comments…John Quincy was a direct rebuttal to the Jackson viewpoint…neither had anything to do with writing the US Constitution…although John Quincy might have had direct interactions with a man who did actual have a major impact on the document since his father was John Adams. He likely grew up with conversations about that document in his home and had his own father to educate him about it…if I had to choose between Quincy and Jackson to determine who would be more knowledgeable about the founding fathers I’d take Quincy EVERY SINGLE TIME!

          • Ray in VT

            John Adams also didn’t directly participate in the Constitutional Convention, and Rhode Island did not send a delegation to the Convention.

          • Jeff

            I meant the ratification acts of NY and RI, I clearly stated that before in my direct quote. Adams wrote the Mass. Constitution which was used as a reference for the US Constitution.

          • Ray in VT

            You should have been clearer then, as you referred to delegations contributing to the Constitution in your comment and not ratifying acts or contributing sources.

          • Ray in VT

            I was not aware that John Quincy Adams was a member of the Constitutional Convention. Perhaps the list of delegates here is amiss:

            http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_founding_fathers.html

          • Jeff

            That’s true, I didn’t say that he did, fail at assumption for you there.

          • Ray in VT

            You did provide a quote from him and then state that “I thought giving you direct quotes from the people who wrote the US Constitution would have been enough.” That doesn’t seem to be an assumption on my part, seeing as how it is the only quote that I see posted by you, unless I have missed one elsewhere here today.

          • jefe68

            Wow, I can’t believe this guys take on Constitutional law.

          • Jeff

            BTW, I said NO WHERE that John Quincy Adams was a founding father…I merely suggested that the presidency immediately prior to Jackson had a completely different viewpoint of the idea of nullification…don’t assume things I clearly didn’t say!!!

          • J__o__h__n

            “giving you direct quotes from the people who wrote the US Constitution “

          • Jeff

            Sure we have many writings from the time of that time that include the quotes/arguments from the founding fathers, I hope you know that.

          • Ray in VT

            So where are those direct quotes, and please tell me how personal views from any of the various Founders that did not make it into the actual Constitution can be used in support of a legal argument when they are not embodied in the law?

          • J__o__h__n

            What would Scalia say?

          • Jeff

            You said, “no they didn’t” in reference to the founders belief that states had the right of succession. Then you went on to use Jackson as your reference for refuting my point about the founding fathers…sorry but you clearly put Jackson as speaking for the founders.

          • J__o__h__n

            I considered them to be separate points. If that wasn’t clear, I apologize. Jackson was brought up in reference to the claim that the views only went back to Lincoln.

          • Jeff

            I wasn’t suggesting that Lincoln was the ONLY person up to that point to suggest that the union was a permanent compact…I was just saying that the view of states rights were completely transformed by the Civil War events and by Lincoln’s actions. He won so his viewpoint became the rule/law…I was simply reminding people that the founders and other previous presidents had a much different viewpoint than Lincoln did.

          • AnneDH

            This must be discussed in context.
            Lincoln was contending with state after state leaving the union in rebellion, as opposed to amicably.
            Remember his ‘house divided against itself cannot stand’ speech, years before that started to happen? This was broiling up for some time.

          • Jeff

            I would disagree…the South left the Union for months without a shot being fired…it wasn’t until Fort Sumter was refused to be vacated (being in the South they viewed it as their property) when it was attacked. Even when attacked there were no deaths due to the attack and the troops were allowed to evacuate without further pursuit. Had the Union left it there then there may have been no civil war.

          • AnneDH

            What about ‘bleeding Kansas’?

          • jefe68

            It goes back to Madison.

            Surviving letters from Madison’s retirement present an ex-president who was deeply conflicted over the institution of slavery. Madison struggled over how best to eradicate slavery from his plantation and from the rest of the country. A visitor to Montpelier in 1835 noted that “with regard to slavery [Madison] owned himself almost to be in despair,” that he “talked more on the subject of slavery than on any other, acknowledging, without limitation or hesitation, all the evils with which it has ever been charged.” On the one hand Madison felt that “the magnitude of this evil among us is so deeply felt, and so universally acknowledged: that no merit could be greater than that of devising a satisfactory remedy for it.” On the other hand, Madison was adamant that emancipation ought to be “gradual, equitable & satisfactory to the individuals immediately concerned, and consistent with the existing & durable prejudices of the nation.”

            http://www.montpelier.org/research-and-collections/people/african-americans/madison-slavery

      • Bob

        Secession is not constitutional. That is what the Civil War was fought over.

        • Jeff

          It was completely constitutional as per the understanding of the founding fathers. It was later generations that changed that mind set. Keep in mind that the winners of wars rewrite the history and the rules.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            Where is this in the Constitution?

          • Jeff

            The same place where you can find a clear statement about the union being eternal. It’s inferred from the opinions of the people who agreed to the document through their writings/opinions of that time.

          • jefe68

            Not exactly:

            “Article 3, Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

            And that is not all. They tried to avoid the treason charge by violating Article 1, Section 10:

            “Article 1, Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emits Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

            “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.

            “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

          • Jeff

            How does that work if the Confederation was technically not a part of the “United States”? It’s all a matter of perspective.

          • 65noname

            and yours is a perspective in support of slavers. the point is that for better or worse succession constitution. to say that they couldn’t be in violation by secesseding because they had “seperated” is sophism typical of those who attempt to romantize terroristic attacks i n support of slavery

          • jefe68

            Either the Constitution is the law of the land or it is not. The Southern states all signed on to be in the Union. It’s not a matter of perspective. Where do get this idea from? What part of the idea that “No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.”

          • Jeff

            Sure, if you’re still part of that compact…if you voluntarily leave that compact then you are no longer subject to the laws/rules within that compact. Many of the founding fathers viewed being a state as a voluntary compact that states could leave at will…nullifying any previous contracts including the US Constitution.

          • Ray in VT

            And what was the legal, Constitutional process that they used to leave that compact? If there was no legal process, then it was an illegal act, and seemingly if the Founders viewed the Union as voluntary and perhaps somewhat transient in nature, then why did they not include some sort of mechanism for exiting the Union? It seems as though they would have been forward thinking enough for that, given their other good and lasting ideas.

          • Jeff

            Ask yourself if it was legal to start a rebellion against the English throne when the American Revolution happened.

          • Ray in VT

            Not totally analogous, as the colonies did voluntarily sign into a union with Great Britain. The states entered into a union voluntarily, and there was no legal means to exit that union.

          • Jeff

            Can you think of any other groups where you could voluntarily join but not voluntarily leave?

          • Ray in VT

            Marriage used to be one. I like a way out, so maybe I just wouldn’t join something that didn’t give me a way out, such as how the Constitution does not.

          • jefe68

            Groups? You look at the idea of the US bound by a Constitution and the Bill of Rights a group?

            You mean the British throne, the Empire was more than England. Still is.
            The act of rebellion by the colonialist was considered an act of treason by the British crown and Parliament. All the Founding Fathers had could have been hung for treason had the British won.

          • Jeff

            Yep, you’re proving my point…the winners write the laws on treason.

          • jefe68

            The laws were written before the 13 Colonies chose to rebel. States are not groups. Our nation is not a group.

            Your point is not proven at all. Now if you had been on about how secession was not illegal until after the Civil War, then that’s another story. Even so, the idea of secession was a complicated one before the Civil War.

          • jefe68

            Hence the Civil War.

      • Kathy

        Well, the United States didn’t take up arms without cause. The War of Southern Treason started when the so called confederacy attacked the US military base at Fort Sumter.

        • Jeff

          Actually the Confederates states separated BEFORE the attack on Sumter.

          The resupply of Fort Sumter became the first crisis of the administration of President Abraham Lincoln. He notified the Governor of South Carolina, Francis W. Pickens, that he was sending supply ships, which resulted in an ultimatum from the Confederate government: evacuate Fort Sumter immediately. Major Anderson refused to surrender. Beginning at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, the Confederates bombarded the fort from artillery batteries surrounding the harbor. Although the Union garrison returned fire, they were significantly outgunned and, after 34 hours, Major Anderson agreed to evacuate. There was no loss of life on either side as a direct result of this engagement, although a gun explosion during the surrender ceremonies on April 14 caused one Union death.

          • 65noname

            the actual war STARTED when the slavers fired on sumter

      • red_donn

        A reference to the Carolinian threat to secede over tariffs perhaps? It’s an excellent, and generally forgotten, point.

        As much as most people do, and indeed likely should, support a war that probably had the effect of drastically cutting short the practice of slavery, that does not inherently make the actions legal. The early agreements suggested the right to secession, and allowed for slavery. The amoral laws laid down in the founding, and perhaps more particularly in Jefferson’s hasty expansion of slavery into the Louisiana territory, set the stage for a war.

        While I very often find the views of the “Northern Agression” crowd distasteful and embittered, people should not be half so quick to shrug off historically valid legal criticisms. Continual insistence on the semi-divine federal and executive powers that have never been laid down, but illegally put into pratice, requires an honest critique.

  • JGC

    It is misleading to allow too much wallowing in the false sentimentality of the Lost Causers, for whom General Lee has become their poster boy.

  • JGC

    As it was stated in the Korda piece, Lee believed his first allegiance to be to the state of Virginia rather than to the Union. However, this was not a slam-dunk decision for many Virginian officers: about 40 per cent of his fellow Virginian officers remained with the Union forces.

    There are some interesting observations by historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor, who studied primary source letters that were discovered in 2002, concerning both Lee’s decision to resign his commission with the Union and on his treatment of the slaves inherited through his father-in-law.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/the-general-in-his-study

    http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2007/06/24/the-private-thoughts-of-robert-e-lee

    • AnneDH

      The (Union) state of West Virginia was created for this very reason.

  • J__o__h__n

    You don’t see the Germans romanticizing the Nazis.

    • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

      Then you haven’t been reading their papers. Hoober Doober

    • twenty_niner

      Many Nazi generals, along with Lee, are revered as great military leaders and tacticians: Guderian, Rommel, Manstein, others, which can be examined apart from their affiliation.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that it can be, at times, difficult to separate the men from the causes.

      • J__o__h__n

        I didn’t say that Lee or the Nazi generals were not great military leaders or tacticians. The hero worship of Lee and the Confederacy are not limited to their military achievements. Lee owned slaves. Lee wasn’t even just following orders as he betrayed his country.

        • Ray in VT

          But some saw their “country” as their state to one degree or another. I am not defending Lee or other Confederates, who were, clearly I think, traitors to the United States, but some could just not bring themselves to fight against their home states.

          • 1Brett1

            I think that is an important point and something that often gets lost in the South’s ongoing romanticization/mythologizing of those times. Many people had conflicting loyalties, even the lowly foot soldiers, some of whom had kin fighting for the other side, and so on.

            Confederates chose their states/parochial way of life over the Union and were on the wrong side of history/what was right and loyal to the country…or, to hear some Southerners tell it, they were protecting themselves against the Northern Aggression.

        • twenty_niner

          If it weren’t for Lee, I believe the end of slavery would have come much later. When Lee chose to fight for Virginia and Confederacy, he gave the South the best shot at winning, and the South gave Lee everything it had. In the end, the South was decimated, and all of the fight that the South had was left on the battlefield. The fight had been completely taken out of it. This is ultimately, in my view, what allowed slavery to come to an end.

          • J__o__h__n

            Of course Reconstruction was watered down and other systems were created to have virtual slavery for decades.

          • Ray in VT

            Southern troops accidentally shooting Stonewall Jackson helped a bit too.

          • AnneDH

            Very true.

            Now, there was a truly fearless, eccentric & successful general who had all the hopes of his army wrapped up in him!!

          • Ray in VT

            My friends and I went to Frederickburg, VA a few years ago and saw the approximate spot where they think that he was shot.

          • AnneDH

            Interesting!

            We took a family trip to Gettysburg many years ago – huge field. Had to take a tour drive around it.

            They keep it as much like it was then as they can (it was the first time this Vermonter had ever seen wheat growing!).

          • Ray in VT

            My same friends and I went there back in 2001. We spent two days walking the town and just the Union lines. It was just an amazing trip. We’re still looking to hit Antietam, Harper’s Ferry and Bull Run next (I think).

          • AnneDH

            Yeah, those are geographically do-able, although far more traffic-congested in-between than it was in the 1860′s!

            I’d like to see Fredericksburg, too.

          • 1Brett1

            My home town…replete with Revolutionary and Civil War history. And, Madison’s Montpelier, Jefferson’s Monticello, and Washington’s Mount Vernon are within reasonable driving distance from the ‘Burg.

          • Ray in VT

            There’s just so much to see. I haven’t even done a proper tour of Saratoga, and that is much closer to me. Fort Ticonderoga is nice though, and Mount Independence is very well preserved just across the lake on the Vermont side.

          • AnneDH

            Boy, am I jealous!

            But not jealous about your summer weather!

            The Civil War did reach into Vermont with an unsuccessful bank raid on a bank in St. Albans of all places.

          • 1Brett1

            Yep, both you and Ray nailed it: it’s sweltering in the summertime! UGH!

            I have to say, I haven’t studied Civil War events as they pertain to anything happening in New England…I should read up.

          • AnneDH

            The St. Albans incident is all I’ve read about. Which was why it stood out.

          • Ray in VT

            It was a nice little town. Fairly well preserved old downtown. Still had a functioning soda fountain I think. We went in the summer, though, at it was 90 degrees with almost 100 percent humidity even at 3am.

          • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

            You seem to contradict yourself – if Lee was the best, than how not having him have made slavery last longer?

          • twenty_niner

            “how not having him have made slavery last longer?”

            Without Lee, I doubt the succession movement would’ve taken off, or the war would’ve been quickly lost. Lincoln emancipated the slaves in 1863, well after the war started. The South had won many early battles, and Lincoln’s re-election was in doubt. He needed emancipation to energize the abolitionists and perhaps spark rebellion in the South.

          • Ray in VT

            And possibly to also keep the British out of the war, as public opinion was very much against slavery in Great Britain.

          • AnneDH

            Actually it did just that. Confederate diplomats were hard at work trying to get the British on their side due to their dependence on cotton, but the emancipation killed all their hopes for good.

          • jefe68

            This is an interesting read on the subject:

            http://history.state.gov/milestones/1861-1865/confederacy

          • AnneDH

            Thanks! Yes, interesting.

  • http://hlb-engineering.us/ HLB

    Lee. Stalin. Hitler. Napoleon. Grant. How come military/war leaders are always such short guys? {all under 5’10″} Updated

    • Ray in VT

      Napoleon was average height by contemporary standards, and you left out people like Washington, who was extremely tall for his time.

      • jefe68

        As was Jefferson who was about 6‘2“.
        Lincoln was 6‘4“. One might add that Grant was a lousy president.

  • New_Clear_Waste

    Michael Korda sounds like an apologist for the treasonous pro-slavery insurgency for which R.E. Lee decided to fight against his country.

  • Bob

    Lee was a traitor as were all of the Confederates.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      How different would our country be if all the Confederate military and leaders were prosecuted?

      • James

        Sounds like you want to cut off the head of hydra.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          What do you think I want? How does that matter to my question?

      • Bob

        Much better off since then they would have known for sure that they lost. Reconstruction might have turned out better.

  • J__o__h__n

    Caller, Lee did more than not doing anything about it.

  • J__o__h__n

    I agree that figures of the past shouldn’t be judged by contemporary standards of morality, but when compared to other Americans of him time, Lee fares poorly.

  • New_Clear_Waste

    Can Mr Korda explain how Lee could be against slavery, as he claims, and simultaneously anti-abolitionist? The argument about a gradual disappearance of slavery sounds like denial and overtly racist.

  • igor70

    Anyone know if in early 19th century U.S. military officers, and/or West Point cadets, had to take an oath similar to today’s? And if so, how did Lee and the others who fought against their former army reconcile violating their oath?

    • Bill O’Brien

      they resigned from the u.s. military

      • igor70

        Duh. But that doesn’t answer the question.

  • MWReagan

    Lee manumitted some of his slaves to take part in the American Colonization Society settlement of Liberia. In retrospect it was a racist organization, but at the time, it seemed to make the most sense in the extremely racist American society, north and south. William and Rosabella Burke wrote very interesting letters back to REL which should be read sometime.

    • Ray in VT

      There were certainly many who did not believe that people of African origins could properly exist in American society, hence the moves to send people back. Jefferson proposed some such relocations for freed slaves in the late 18th century, and I think that there were some limited sorts of “colonies” established for freed slaves in places like Ohio and Illinois, back when that was the frontier.

  • JGC

    (Caller Lee: My mother, originally from Georgia, wanted my middle name to be Lee, after the General, but a nun in the maternity ward in Pennsylvania frowned on that, guiding her to a more “saintly” name instead.)

  • Kirazen

    Regarding the “unfairness” of judging people who lived 150 years ago against today’s standards, one doesn’t need to look to today’s moral standards for guidance. Many, many of Lee’s contemporaries 150 years ago viewed the institution of slavery as pure evil. There were the abolitionists, of course, but also the slaves themselves. Do their views not count?

    • twenty_niner

      But there weren’t that many abolitionists in the South. Without slavery, the South would have no economy.

      This is why economies should not be based on unsustainable policies – they become sand-boxed with no recourse. Kind of like what the Fed is doing to our economy in the present.

      • Ray in VT

        There was also a fairly recent book that noted that there were active pro-Union movements in every Confederate state.

        • twenty_niner

          Interesting.

          • Ray in VT

            It may have been 1861: the Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart.

        • AnneDH

          Of course. Why not?

          Not all southerners were mean-minded slaveholders.

          Doesn’t surprise me at all.

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

        The northern states also had big economic benefits from slavery. Ship builders, bankers and insurance, rum makers, fishermen and farmers and manufacturing, too. Profits of slave trade was huge all over this country.

        Watch the documentary called ‘Traces of the Trade’ for this and many other insights into this country’s roots.

        • allenius

          That documentary, Traces of the Trade, is excellent for a much closer expose of the slave trade

  • allenius

    How is it possible that neither Robert E. Lee nor his horse were killed in all those battles?

    • normankelley

      I think by the same logic that George S. Patton didn’t die in battle: dead generals are not effective military leaders.

      • allenius

        Ha, ha! Actually, what I meant was this–Paintings and lore would have him riding into battle first, leading the charge, but I wondered if this could be true, given how aggressive the fighting was. I wondered if he had been protected somehow or stayed behind a ways or what?

  • Maya

    How can you sidestep racism so much? The author of this book is clearly really nuts. “Feelings that we’ve acquired over 150 years?” What are you talking about? Do you suppose that SLAVES 150 years ago did not view slavery as wrong? Are you really completely rejecting the entire black population from 150 years ago?

    • OnPointComments

      Back in the 1930s, the WPA had a project to interview people who had been slaves. I was surprised that in many of the interviews I read (it may have been all of them, it’s been a while since I read them), the interviewee didn’t comment on whether slavery was right or wrong. Many of the interviews included phrases such as “The Master was a good and fair man, but his wife was a mean woman.”
      http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html

      • JGC

        That is a great link. Maybe they weren’t asked in the interview if slavery was right or wrong, but when you read these narratives, there is no other conclusion to be made, that slavery was a wrong and evil institution, and that they knew it.

      • jefe68

        And the point of your comment is what exactly?

        • OnPointComments

          That you can either accept the speculation of someone today about the views of slaves, or you can read the narratives from the actual slaves themselves.

  • Maya

    I think these guests are engaging in cultural relativism. The man fought to continue slavery. Its silly to say that he believed it was wrong. He fought to continue it.

  • AliceOtter33

    There’s this bizarre reverence for “great men” of war that really needs to go. Words like “dignity” and “honor” are tone deaf in the larger conversation about the still very raw, open wounds of institutional racism.

    This in no way means we should stop remembering and analyzing Robert E. Lee as an important figure in the bloodiest war in American history. It’s just that he doesn’t get a gold star for being “deeply conflicted” about slavery or breaking the law by teaching his slaves to read.

    • JGC

      Tom Ashbrook kicks it off in his written intro by describing Lee as “symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern cause and American icon”. There are lessons to be learned from this painful history, but it hasn’t helped us as a country to move forward when we continue to romanticize the C.S.A. as some kind of noble and principled experiment. (Pssst! It never was just about States’ Rights, for those who insist on calling it “The War of Northern Aggression”.)

  • hennorama

    The fact that Lee’s army was moving from the north, and Meade’s army moving in from the south, is an interesting anomaly of the Battle of Gettysburg.

  • Gregory Spear

    Your guests say that Lee had an honorable loyalty to Virginia and would not raise his sword against his own family and neighbors. But this makes Lee’s sister a far greater person that Lee, because she did not believe that this narrow, parochial view of honor justifies the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of lives in the cause of enslaving millions of others. Lee was a smaller minded person than his sister, and by the standard that she sets, he was a coward.

    • JGC

      That is such an interesting point to make. Women’s voices are often overlooked as history seems to mainly reflect the male point of view.

      There is a book by Stephanie McCurry, a history professor at the Univ. of Pennsylvania, called “Confederate Reckoning”, that addresses the disenfranchised voices of the Confederacy, meaning the white women and the slaves, and how they used various means to make their power felt. Here’s what McCurry writes in the beginning of her historical analysis:

      “The short-lived Confederate States of America was a signal event in the history of the Western world. What secessionists set out to build was sometning entirely new in the history of nations: a modern proslavery and antidemocratic state, dedicated to the proposition that all men were not created equal…Emboldened by the “failure” of emancipation in other parts of the hemisphere, convinced that the American vision of “the people” had been terribly betrayed, Southern slaveholders sought the kind of future for human slavery and republican government no longer possible within the original Union. Theirs was to be a republic perfectly suited to them as a slaveholding people, a republic of white men, defined by slavery and the political exclusion of the mass of Southern people.”

  • Bill O’Brien

    i agree that he was overrated. he was too stubborn or close-minded to take gen. longstreet’s advice at gettysburg. many died in those hopeless charges.

    • AnneDH

      Again, remember the context: up to that point the South had won most of the battles, so felt invincible.

      Yes, it was a grave mistake to ignore Longstreet, but he really believed in his troops.

      Often, previous battles were won by guerrilla warfare & tricks to make up for the Confederate troops being so much smaller in number than the Northern troops.

      Gettysburg was the first big battle, and this number imbalance really came to prove that frontal assault was no way for Lee to win a battle.

      • Bill O’Brien

        i’m not saying that his decision was inexplicable; just that a better general would have seen the wisdom in longstreet’s advice. he was no McClellan but he was no alexander the great, either.

  • AnneDH

    I don’t agree that Lee was overrated; I do agree with what you are saying about Grant and Sherman.

  • AnneDH

    Please refer to other comments of mine here if you have the time.

    Your comment seems to me (correct me if I’m wrong) to display a lack of understanding of our culture, both North & South at that point in time.

    We tend to infuse our current-day interpretations of issues into those of whatever point of history we are considering, which is a mistake: people just weren’t like the way we are today.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    What is wrong with Pilgrim?

    They provide base load power to the grid at an average of $.036/kwh wholesale vs. Cape Wind per their contract will provide power at $.20/kwh and ratchet up over 15 years to $.36/kwh wholesale. And the Pilgrim power is available 24/7 and doesn’t emit CO2.

    Given the volatility of natural gas prices this winter it seems we need a few more Pilgrims in the region.

    • Ray in VT

      When taking the whole production cycle into account nuclear certainly does have a CO2 impact.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Same for solar and wind.

        • Ray in VT

          True. There is no free lunch, although the figures that I have looked at put wind much lower than nuclear. Some put solar higher, but some put it lower.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            The CO2 impact of uranium processing is quite small and will get even smaller when Gen IV reactors burn current waste. Why would so many CO2 fear mongers like James Hansen be pushing nuclear so hard?

          • Ray in VT

            “Fear mongers”. Good one.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Thx!!

          • Ray in VT

            Sort of like how just about every climate scientist and researcher out there gets labelled an “alarmist”, or so it seems, with the relatively few “skeptics” getting the label or “real” or “honest” of course.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            They are not “all” alarmists. Only the alarmists are alarmist.

            And if you happen to stray from the reservation you are bullied until forced to resign:

            http://www.nationalreview.com/article/378011/science-mccarthyism-rupert-darwall

          • WorriedfortheCountry
          • Ray in VT

            I guess that one could just not join dodgy organizations with secret funding that push questionable information. One could also just stick to one’s guns and take the heat.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            His mistake was telling the truth.

            The McCartheyites couldn’t have it.

          • Ray in VT

            Yes, he finally saw through the big conspiracy that only the libertarians opposed to government action and their funders in the fossil fuel industries have so far discovered.

          • Ray in VT

            I also found amusing how the author of the article took the one word faith out of the tweet from the NASA researcher and attempted to spin it to say that climate science and scientists operate on faith, when the comment was aimed at groups operating in bad faith, as in to be intentionally dishonest or misleading, and how they should expect to be considered to be “toxic”. The recent GWPF “report” on climate sensitivity is a prime example, as it cherry picks data and excludes studies that contradict their position:

            http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/mar/10/global-warming-optimism-unjustified-high-sensitivity

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Ah, so you are accusing GWPF to be like skepticalscience from from the other side.
            Perhaps.

            Here is an excellent new site where real scientists debate the science and actually acknowledge the uncertainties in the science.

            Here is the latest ‘discussion’ on climate sensitivities:

            http://www.climatedialogue.org/climate-sensitivity-and-transient-climate-response/

          • Ray in VT

            That’s pretty funny. No, I’m accusing them of being a likely fossil fuel front group that runs out questionable “experts” and “research” meant to create doubt regarding the credibility of the scientific community and their work.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I also thought it was interesting that the Swedish scientists said the most viscous attacks came from US based scientists employed by the Federal government.

            So sad to see such intolerance from Federal employees.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            And the point you are missing is that GWPF was attempting to be MORE inclusive by including more voices and the climate Nazis could not allow the ‘credibility’ that might bring to the ‘debate’.

          • Ray in VT

            Oh, by using some credible people to lend some credence to their flat Earth like denial of facts? Holocaust deniers have been known to use similar tactics.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Really? Is that what their position? I haven’t looked closely at their work but somehow I think you are misrepresenting it.

          • Ray in VT

            The promotion of conspiracy theories, cherry picking, “experts” with often little in the way of credentials or published research. Both sorts of deniers employ such methods.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            You also peaked my interest because I remembered that nuclear uses a lot of concrete and steel. It turns out that wind uses more concrete and steel per GW produced.

            It turns out nuclear is similar to hydro.
            This is why MANY anti-CO2 environmentalists are pushing nuclear so hard.

            Some interesting charts here:

            http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/programs/energy-and-climate/nuclear-has-one-of-the-smallest-footprints

          • Ray in VT
          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Offshore wind is better than onshore?
            Doesn’t pass the smell test. The world energy council chart that I linked (with ranges) looks more accurate.

            If you look at the concrete and steel actually used in wind vs. nuclear his (relative) numbers don’t pass the smell test.

          • Ray in VT

            So, it doesn’t pass your smell test and the figures that you prefer look more accurate to you? Well, you’ve convinced me. I’m sure that you know better than the groups that have looked at and studied this.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Come on. We were comparing two different charts. One had ranges for each technology, the other had a single number.

            Just based on a cursory survey I’ll take the more detailed analysis than the one on wikipedia from the guy who works at a VT law school. No offense to VT.

          • Ray in VT

            No offense taken, although I don’t work at a law school. I do, though, think that the Vermont Law School does some interesting work.

            I’ll take a listing that looks at a variety of recent studies versus one that takes its number from one 10 year old study. I also will take a summary from Wikipedia over something from one who holds many views on climate not supported by the scientific community.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Well, we can agree that they both CAN”T be right.

          • Ray in VT

            But you’ll stick to the one ten year old study? Why? Because it best supports your position? Sounds an awful lot like cherry picking.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            No, I spent about two minutes looking over the data. Based on what I “KNOW” the offshore wind on wiki looked suspect. That and the detailed backup provided in the breakthrough article leads me to believe it “might” be more accurate. But I’m not invested in either analysis and am completely open to more data.

          • Ray in VT

            My faith in your ability to accurately gauge the validity of research, such as that cited in the various sources enumerated on the Wikipedia page, is pretty low.

          • ExcellentNews

            Well – look at the data in your link and you will see that nuclear has 1% of the CO2 impact of a coal per unit of energy produced. For all intents and purposes, nuclear power is CO2-free.

            Go visit a coal strip mine. The experience will make you a supporter of nuclear energy, I promise.

          • Ray in VT

            Some of the studies put it at closer to 5%, but yes, compared to coal it is much closer to zero, although not quite really, and it has some other possible concerns. If managed correctly I think that it is a far better option than traditional fossil fuels.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Typical hack MO. Pulls figures out of the air, or perhaps a moist, dark place, with no citation, as that would 1) be honest (something the right-wing clown posse here is not), and, 2) it would identify the biases in their hackery.

      One can bet good money that, at least, the externalized cost of nukes (social, environmental, and heath) aren’t included, nor are decommissioning costs, nor are public subsidy costs without which nukes couldn’t even be built.

      • WorriedfortheCountry

        Talk about someone who has difficulty with the truth or facts.

        The National Grid contract with Cape Wind is public record; as is the wholesale price of electricity on ISO-NE. You’ll have to do better next time. Also, the problems with the NE natural gas supply is also well documented. Would you like to see my electric bill too?

      • ExcellentNews

        I have to side with our resident right-wing shill on this one. Nuclear energy IS clean and cheap, sensationalist media coverage notwithstanding. Yes, I’ve heard of Chernobyl, Three Miles Island, and Fukushima. Have you heard of the social, environmental and health cost of COAL? This is not a matter of ideology, but of engineering. There is a vast amount of data and technical experience in other countries who have done it right and built a clean, independent and sustainable base power generation on nuclear.

        • nj_v2

          What’s the ideology of keeping radioactive waste isolated for thousands of years?

          And new nuke plants are so absurdly expensive that they’re not being built.

          And nukes can’t exist without significant public subsidy.

          Other than that, they’re a fine solution.

          • ExcellentNews

            There are many different nuclear cycle designs. In the US, we’ve made the mistake of letting private utilities handle it. The result is waste scattered left and right, made by scattered older plants designed for profit, not lifecycle process efficiency. A central waste repository (yes, the “infamous” Yucca mountain) and newer regenerating designs would largely mitigate the waste problem.

            Doing anything once is expensive. However, if multiple plants are built, the cost will be significantly lower.

            Nukes can very well exist with no subsidies at all when they are the result of good design and good public policy. Several countries, such as France, generate most of their electricity from nuclear, and the cost per kwh even cheaper than coal.

  • Gregory Spear

    To Anne and others who argue that Lee was, and we are, product of our time and culture, I couldn’t agree more, but those of us who cannot get beyond those constraints in no way deserve to be called “great.” The Great are those who challenge themselves and others to overcome these limitations. 40% of Southern troops, including many officers, stayed in the Union army. Thousands of southerners participated in underground pro-union activities, including anti-slavery actions. All of these people upheld a sense of honor and humanity that was inaccessible to the “great” General Lee, who was, in the end, more concerned about his position in Southern Society than he was about any moral principle. If this is judging him too harshly, by a standard that was unavailable in that time and place, then what explains his own Unionist brother and sister never speaking to him again?

    • dr

      I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • dr

    The historian seems like a fanatic. “He vehemently opposed slavery”, but he owned slaves and led the arm of the side that fought like hell to keep their slaves. I call poppycock.

  • Kenny LogIns

    I can’t stand Confederate revisionism… and I grew up in the south. The economic arguments, the abstractions about the federal government “imposing” itself are beside the point. The southern leadership decided to preemptively commit treason because they were afraid of the possibility of emancipation. Like, as in, you might not be able to own other people anymore. And to pretend that the entire south was of one mind on the issue is also suspect. The pro-slavery forces had about as much legitimacy as the pro-Russia insurgents in Ukraine. That is to say, they had guns and were the loudest at the time.

    Actually, I take that back. The Confederacy had even less legitimacy. At least the Russians can say the Ukrainian government just went through a coup and the new government may not have their best interests in mind. Lincoln was (peacefully) elected. The Union army had every right to crush the terrorists/rebels/insurgents.

  • twenty_niner

    Keeping interest rates near zero and printing $85 $35 billion a month is sustainable?

  • allenius

    Re: “sycophantic”, what I felt was that Mr. Korda is moved and captivated by Lee’s persona as both a gentleman and a warrior. The Southern creed of “honor” still holds today, however inappropriately it may be applied today too. It gives about its highest moral value to the warrior, the man with the gun who “stands his ground”. Sound familiar?

  • Roy-in-Boise

    The southern states should never have been readmitted with the original state lines and leadership. Lincoln wished to “go easy on them.” That ease gave America “Jim Crow” and other regressive impulses of reaction to progress.

  • Kenny LogIns

    That’s a cool sentiment and all… but following it literally kind of undermines the whole democracy thing. This wasn’t the case of an unelected or foreign government imposing itself on someone else. This was the legitimately elected government of the United States. The southern aristocracy just didn’t like the outcome. So, they ragequit. Like a petulant, spoiled child. With the exception of 1860, we’ve been able to peacefully transition from one government to the next. That’s the point. We’re not, you know, Pakistan. Don’t like the outcome of a particular election? Deal with it. Or campaign harder next time.

  • Bigtruck

    Let us not forget what the confederates fought for.
    Brave men died freeing other men from their bondage.

    We should not remember the confederates through rose colored glasses. Much like other wars their might be compelling individuals but as a whole the concept of owning and selling humans is evil.

    Perhaps after reading this book you should read MacKinlay Kantor’s Andersonville It will grab you by the throat and shake you, You will never see a moron flying the confederate flag the same way.

  • Kenny LogIns

    You’re projecting. I’m guessing the “slaveholding brits” thing was supposed to be a passive-aggressive stab at your average Prius-driving, quinoa-eating NPR listener who’s sooooooo dismissive of the Founding Fathers, right? If I remember correctly, their main grievance was the whole “no taxation without representation” thing. Last time I checked, the southern states did have representation. They were just dissatisfied with the result of the democratic process. To wit, unless the Confederacy held some kind of Putin-esque referendum, with 99.99% of the population supporting secession, what kind of “mandate” did they have, exactly? Did any local/county/whatever governments have the option of staying in the Union?

  • Kenny LogIns

    Groupthink… I too have read 1984.

  • Ray in VT

    The corner stone upon which the foundation of the Confederacy was laid, according to Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens:

    “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”

  • Kenny LogIns

    No one is suggesting that the North was a paragon of modern progressive values (I think). The author was right about one thing: you have to be careful judging historical events through a modern lens. The left-right axis would have meant something totally different back then. I mean, the early Suffrage/Women’s Rights movement was way too on board with the whole Prohibition thing. That doesn’t really undermine their other arguments, though.

  • J__o__h__n

    “Hate speech” against the slave holding confederacy? This is a new frontier in ridiculousness.

    • jefe68

      A good example of revisionist nonsense.
      I suppose there’s bound to be some who somehow mistake Gone with Wind with reality and actual historic events.

  • Ray in VT

    Grant acquired a slave from his father-in-law, and Grant freed that slave prior to the war.

  • J__o__h__n

    The Crown was not a legitimate government as there was taxation without representation. The South had elected representatives. The Confederates were considered traitors at the time so it isn’t revisionist.

  • jefe68

    Here’s a first, a bigot using Jews from the South to justify the horrific legacy of slavery. You get the bottom feeder award for today.

    • Kenny LogIns

      Donald Sterling loves Koreans… doesn’t make him any less racist, though.

      • jefe68

        What is the point of your silly comment?

        • Kenny LogIns

          I’m agreeing with you? Maybe wasn’t the best analogy.

          • jefe68

            OK, it was a little out there as an analogy as I don’t know much about Sterling other than he’s very wealthy, happens to be Jewish, and has owned a basketball team for decades. Oh, and he’s a bigot.

  • jefe68

    A zeitgeist against all things Confederate?
    So let’s unpack this gem of a statement.
    The gist of it is that people who are for the most part critical towards the Confederate states of the Civil War period are liberals. Which might or might not be true.
    The thing is, it does not matter. As the very idea of waxing on nostalgically about the Confederate era of the South seems fraught with some serious moral issues. That somehow we should look past an agrarian economic system based entirely on slave labor and find the good things. Such as mint juleps, Debutant balls and Southern gentleman.

    The blunting effects of slavery upon the slaveholder’s moral perceptions are known and conceded the world over; and a privileged class, an aristocracy, is but a band of slaveholders under another name.

    - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
    Mark Twain

  • igor70

    Thanks Hayes, the Rawle book is interesting (although I confess I’ve only skimmed it so far). But there remains my question, which I guess no one here can answer (or cares): did they take an oath? The Constitution, at Art. VI, provides that “[t]he Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution,” but certainly that didn’t limited the persons subject to oath or, within limits, what an oath provides.

  • JGC

    I remember seeing Stone Mountain, Georgia on a family visit a long time ago; the three men depicted in the carved mountainside did not have any particular resonance for me at that young age, although just the sight itself was certainly imposing. Thinking back on it now, I have to wonder how the current population of the city of Stone Mountain (25% white, 70% black in the 2000 census) view the gigantic figures of Lee, Jackson and Davis watching over them. I am pretty sure most of the citizens do not view them as God or Jesus.

  • JGC

    Definitely tragic.

  • ExcellentNews

    I agree. We also have too much HATE SPEECH against Nazism, public drawing and quartering of unbelievers, Japanese imperialism, the branding of escaped slaves, stoning by the crowd, entertaining gladiatorial combat to the death, and many other great institutions of our past. We need some right-wing apologists to come around and tell us these practices were not as bad as the evil progressives make them be.

  • ExcellentNews

    Before we glorify too much the slave-holding generals, we need to think of the thousands of ordinary people who died in agony and despair watching their guts writhe in the mud or their blood weep in the dust. WHY? So that a handful of Bubbas could grow fat on the back of the labor of human beings they held as chattel. And as usual, the generals led from behind. THAT is the reality of the South and of the Civil War.

    To write about Lee or about the “glory” of the old south is like saying the Nazis were not that bad because they were proud and they ran their extermination camps efficiently, making quality soap for all Germans.

    • Ray in VT

      I agree with much of what you said, although in the Civil War many generals did lead from the front, which is why a reasonably high number of them were killed in action.

  • ExcellentNews

    I agree – Mr. Korda is just another shill and revisionist for the old slave-holders and the “new” big-money republican South. But consider this – if we don’t let him speak, how would we know what a significant fraction of our population thinks? Because this is the kind of cr-ap that many kids in the South hear from their grandparents and their Sunday schools.

    I wrote however to point one thing to you – nuclear power IS clean. Yeah, laugh as much as you want at my words, and then go visit a COAL-burning power plant. Then you will stop laughing. We must halt the use of coal. It accounts for 65+% of our greenhouse gas emissions and 50+% of our energy. It does not create jobs. It sets us up for a climate disruption the likes of which Earth has not seen since the Permian Era.

    We must stop burning coal. And the only feasible way we can do this is by investing in nuclear power generation. Yes, nuclear waste is a problem, but compared to coal pollution and climate change, its manageable and far less significant. And while it may seem unsafe from a sensationalist media standpoint, per kilowatt-hour produced nuclear energy has a thousand-fold better safety record than any other source.

  • New_Clear_Waste

    So that’s your justification for defending slavery and attempting to dissolve the USA? What do you think the slaves thought about your ‘gentlemens’ agreement’?

ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 31, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.  (AP)

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