Absolutely a fantastic and well documented response !!
Thank you both for your time and exceptional talents in this regard.
Clear, once again the truth eventually returns to the headlines.. You can try and bury the truth, but as the most recent politicians have learned, the truth eventually makes it back as a headline...( in small print on page 22)...Lee's leadership can never be tarnished, no matter how hard the left tries. One vote here for Washington and Lee to keep its name...
The discussion of not just Lee but also the meaning and legacy of the Confederacy is really important and long overdue, and it's way bigger than the name of one small university, and Seidule is to be praised for having the courage to engage us in this hard discussion. If we are not honest and thorough and courageous in confronting the past (the good, the bad, and the ugly), we will continue to face the same problems (as very recent history shows us). One big mistake (illustrated in Mr. Utterback's comment above) is to see the discussion in a rigid good-vs-evil binary: The Woke Culture-Canceling "Left" attacking something which is being defended by the Righteous Guardians of All Things Sacred. Seen the other way: The Courageous Warriors for Truth and Justice attacking The Toxic Mythology of a Racist Heritage. There may be truth in each of these caricatures, but both views erase crucial complexity and nuance, reduce others to mere (and hated)types, and end us in a kind of stupid trench warfare instead of an honest conversation (which would involve good will and listening). If it's wrong to declare Lee a devil, then it must therefore be equally wrong to declare him a demigod. It's possible to admire his virtues and noble qualities and also to condemn his grave errors in judgment and blind spots. (Seidule is actually careful to do just that in his book.) As Shakespeare says, "Take him for all in all, he was a man.... And to be human is to be complex and complicated, capable of both nobility and evil. This is the truth that these reflexive binaries eliminate. It's also patently obvious that the Lost Cause Myth (which is bigger that Lee) is as wrong as it is dangerous, and it's time we faced that. For example, the myth glorifies the "gallant warriors who fought the good fight for their homeland" but completely ignores what unholy and unspeakable thing that stupid war actually was: a whole generation of young men slaughtered---and for what, exactly? Don't we need, finally, to wrestle with that question as a country. Let's stop caricaturing the other side in this debate and cultivate rather some courage and curiosity. If Lee was indeed who these men claim he was in the end, he'd want that, right?
Amen, my friend!
First, I wish to thank Coach Hale for using his real name as opposed to hiding behind "anonymous."
Second, while I feel Seidule's book is less vicious than his lectures that I have seen on the Internet, it also is a character assassination of Lee. As Professors Young and Eckes note in the allegations of Lee whipping slaves, Seidule accepts mere accusations as fact. In reality, the accusations are dubious and connected to abolitionists newspapers. They were analyzed thoroughly by Douglas Freeman 85 years ago. Neither Seidule's book, nor Pryor's upon whom he seems to rely, provide and additional verifiable *facts.*
Third, the great mistake that Coach Hale and other modern Lee critics seem to make is that his defenders are subscribers to so-called Lost Cause Mythology. Like nearly all of modern academia he fails to realize that the caricaturing today is chiefly among Lee's opponents.
A fine work of which all who have supported the TGR may be proud. Truth fairly considered should will out. But, unfortunately, with so many deaf ears in the public and even in the W&L community, I am not optimistic.
A well thought out and presented essay. W&L has survived and thrived because it has a focus and heritage to provide stability through decades buffeted by then current "politically correct" dogmas which lack foundation of any historical perspective. It has repeatedly been the folly for each generation viewing current events and history though the narrow and brief lens of their lifetime. Such emphatically propounded expressions are both ill informed and "selfish" as well as unfair to well intentioned persons who labored through periods of different political, economic, religious, scientific and medical milieu affecting their very survival. We were blessed to be enabled on our way by men such as Lee. Who among the current critics would have the courage to sacrifice their entire wealth, family and status to defend an ideal with no financial or personal gain to be achieved; such courage and selflessness in this day and age so devoid of those characteristics should be praised and emulated, not diminished and assaulted.
Thank you for putting together such an excellent video. The extent of the misunderstanding of Lee's character today is astounding. I have read a dozen biographies of the man, and have just finished reading all of his wartime papers - and everything bears out all these men say, and more. He was a man of almost unparalleled virtue - I say without a whit of exaggeration that the only better biographies can be found in the lives of the saints. I believe that the world hates virtue and excellence and seeks to malign and test down great men
(the site cut off my prior comment) ... "and tear down great men, since they challenge the world's weakness, self-absorption, and vice. Thank you for working to redeem his good name. As is said, God Vindicates. Deo Vindice, Andrew H. Watson, Class of 2015, Lincoln Nebraska
Great presentation. Grateful to see all sides of man, the good and the bad. I think Robert E. Lee is a very good man who, like all men, have flaws - particularly when their life is viewed through the eyes of another era’s mores.
State's rights to do what? OWN SLAVES. The whole South's economy was built around slavery and the South wanted to secede so that they could continue using slave labor which drove their economy. There were lots of causes and effects related to the Civil War but to pretend like they all didn't ultimately lead back to slavery in one way or another is intellectually dishonest. Also, your assessment of the name change being an example of "cancel culture" is dishonest. I haven't heard a single name change proponent say that we should erase Lee from our history. President Dudley made the wise decision to hire a Director of Institutional History whose job is literally to research and tell the University's history honestly. Changing the name doesn't change or erase history. In fact, continuing to deify Lee on this campus as opposed understanding him under an objective lens, is a way of erasing history.
State's Rights and State's Responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. The Confederate Constitution deliberately sought to limit the power of the central government and increase those of the states. Consider the following:
1. The central government was prohibited from subsidizing private industry.
2. The central government was not allowed to spend money on public works. Such spending was up the to states individually.
3.The central government could not use its taxing authority help favored industries establish domestic monopolies. Thus, "protective" tariffs were outlawed.
4. The Confederate Congress could not initiate new Constitutional amendments. That power resided only with the states that could begin the amendment process in a convention of as few as three states.
5. The CSA President had a line item veto in order to block any pork barrel spending that might get through Congress as was increasingly common in the USA.
6. The CSA President could serve only one six year term thereby preventing any one person from centralizing power unto himself.
7. Although the CSA Constitution authorized a Supreme Court, the country never formed one due to concern over the tendency of such a court to assign more power to the central government.
Mr. Leigh, I think we should be accurate here. On the crucial issue of slavery, the Confederate Constitution was not a pro-states' rights document.
First, Article I, Section 9, Clause 4 of the Confederate Constitution made it illegal for the Confederate federal government to outlaw slavery, stating: "No...law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed."
Second, Article VI, Section 3 (just like Article VI of the U.S. Constitution) constitutes a "Supremacy Clause," making federal law supreme over any state's laws. It states: "This Constitution, and the laws of the Confederate States made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the Confederate States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding."
3. Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 states: "The Confederate States may acquire new territory; and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide governments for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several Sates; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form States to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected be Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States." Again, this is an anti-states' rights provision, imposing the CSA's federal government's will upon new states admitted to the Confederacy.
Taken together, those two provisions actually make the Confederate Constitution more restrictive on states' rights than the U.S. Constitution that the seceding states were rejecting. In the U.S., a state could determine its own laws with respect to the existence of slavery within its borders; not so in the CSA.
So with respect to the most pressing issue of the day, it is wholly inaccurate to assert that the Confederate Constitution "deliberately sought to limit the power of the central government and increase those of the states."
[Apologies for the typos. Most notably, the second to last paragraph should say "Taken together, those *three* provisions..."]
Very well done. Seidule would be kicked out of W&L today for violating the honor system. His book is one big lie.
Drs. Young and Eckes provide a fine retort to Seidule's character assassination of Robert E. Lee. W&'L's denial of their request to make the presentation through university channels is dishonorably unfair. Such conduct casts doubt on the future value of the honor code.
my primary concern with Civil War history lies in the myth that either side were justified in initiating a war. There are a number of issues that have to be looked at systematically in order to examine who really started this war. Like the question of whether secession is constitutional or not it comes down to interpretation of law.
The crux of the matter of who started the Civil War really comes down to the issue of secession. But one may argue that secession is constitutional, and many people that it essentially is a form of revolution, different from other forms of revolution and that it does not seek to overthrow the existing government but separate from it. This is exactly the same case with the American Revolution or the War of Independence. Now it’s interesting to note that we use both the term American Revolution and War of independence. For in the American Civil War it was officially from the US government standpoint a war of the rebellion, from the Confederate States of America standpoint a war of independence.
If you believe that the secession of the Deep South and formation of the Confederacy was legitimate than the blockade of Fort Sumter was an act of war. In modern terms of the blockade of ports is an act of war. Of course, if you do not believe that the Confederacy was a legitimate government of those states, then you argue that they were a rebellion and you are suppressing a rebellion it isn’t any more complicated than that. Seidule seems to forget that most of the officers in the revolution took oaths of allegiance to the crown, they took an oath ot their state breaking that oath. Washington was one of them as was light Horse Harry Lee. During the ratification debates, Virginia's delegates said "the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression."
Those who have not seen Seidule's Internet interview with W&L History Department Chair, Dr. Molly Michelmore might be shocked by it. Seidule was almost a ventriloquist doll for Michelmore. Like Seidule she suggests that anyone who thinks the school should drop the Lee name is the victim of "a false belief system" about Lee, which is immune to history.
The great tragedy is that today's W&L administration and Michelmore censor contrary opinions notwithstanding that W&L's earlier historians allowed minority opinions to thrive. That's how the Michelmore and Seidule viewpoints became dominant. Thus, W&L's repeated censorship of Generals Redoubt scholars is not only inexcusable, it is frighteningly totalitarian.
A link to Sedule's four week old W&L interview by Michelmore is provided below:
It is always those in power who censor which they do for a solitary reason: to retain power.
Correction to third sentence above:
Like Seidule she suggests that anyone who thinks the school should *not* drop the Lee name is the victim of "a false belief system" about Lee, which is immune to history.
I listened to Drs Young and Eckes rebuttal and appreciate their time and expertise. I also listened to Ty Seidule’s remarks and was disappointed, but not surprised. I saw his previous presentation at W&L and knew about his biased view of Lee’s legacy. I recoil every time he plays the martyr and suggests that he had to retire from the Army in order to write the book. This is a very misleading statement from an officer who had already served 36 years on active duty—20 of those years at West Point. I’m also a product of the W&L ROTC department and served on active duty for 26 years. Although officers can retire at 20 years, many will continue to serve for 30. Seidule was 6 years beyond this mark and was facing mandatory retirement in a few years. The bottom line is that there would be no repercussion from the Army for his book. Undoubtedly he was researching the book while at West Point. Personally I’m glad that he is no longer teaching at West Point and spouting his delusional moans of “southern white privilege” and white guilt. Seidule’s description of Lee Chapel was interesting but misguided. He reports that the white altar signifies white supremacy. If so, this would be the case of almost all the altars in other churches and venues. He predictably misreported that Washington College students “routinely and repeatedly” raped Black women in Lexington with no recourse from President Lee. Seidule’s presentation was disturbing and included many historical inaccuracies but the most obtuse remark was that Lee’s values do not represent the school today. He did not miss the opportunity to opine that Washington was a “cruel enslaver.” This woke historian, who “has a problem with the term gentleman because it is loaded with privilege” and implies white status, is the epitome of revisionism. Finally, I found Professor Molly Michelmore’s (screen title was Molly M (she/her)—not sure what that signifies) sneering attitude as moderator a bit tedious.
It takes some Chutzpah to accept a position at University named after famous men. then sit quietly until the time is ripe politically and then find that these men are reprehensible. Some code of honor that is. Why did she accept the position, was the income more important than her honor. Is honor a post-no go, for Postmodern Molly M. Whatever is Woke is not humility nor honor these seem to be in deep slumber.
Outstanding rebuttal to Seidule's historically inaccurate claims. Calm, considered, methodical--like good historical analysis should be. The final comment on the author's hypocrisy takes the cake. The book is filled with overgeneralizations, presentist distortions, and shoddy research. It was clearly written to take advantage of the current, politically-charged environment, and to that end has, unfortunately, wildly succeeded. I intend to write a scathing review in one of the prominent Civil War academic journals. Let's see if it is accepted for publication.... Anyone care to wager?
It is appalling to me that the current W&L administration and faculty have refused direct, face-to-face debate between campus "name-change" advocates and such able and honorable TGR representatives as Neely and Al. The refusal of open, unfettered debate and exposition of views is an affront to the principles of democratic governance in any setting, shows profound disrespect of persons, violates the obligation of even-handed justice to all, and -- particularly damning for a university -- obstructs the open-minded, unbiased search for truth. Where now are the values of honorable conduct and lofty purpose that W&L, after the examples of Robert E. Lee and George Washington, once stood for?
This is just a rehashing of the standard false narratives in the Lost Cause. Do your research... On slavery here is one thing Lee thought:
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. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline 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. Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild & melting influence of Christianity, than the storms & tempests of fiery Controversy.
I am very grateful for the comments made by my classmate Freeman Jones. I feel that his assessment of this situation is right on target.
I certainly understand why Mr. Brian B. would take strong issue with the Lee quote that he cites. I do feel, however, that we need to looks at such things in their historical context. Whatever else might have been said in the quote, Lee did express a desire that the black race might eventually enjoy "better things". Furthermore, his statement, "Their emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influence of Christianity...." suggests that Lee anticipated a day in which that emancipation would come and that he was in favor of it. Remember that Lee also said, "In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country." Just before the war began, Lee said, "If the slaves of the South were mine, I would surrender them all without a struggle, to avert this war."
I do not believe that it is fair or wise to judge anyone in the past by the standards of our own day and time. We need to take historical context into account when we assess the words of anyone.