Skip to comments.President Eisenhower Letter-Honor Robert E. Lee
Posted on 10/17/2006 5:18:26 PM PDT by bushpilot1
Eisenhower letter regarding Robert E. Lee
President Dwight Eisenhower wrote the following letter in response to one he received dated August 1, 1960, from Leon W. Scott, a dentist in New Rochelle, New York. Scotts letter reads:
Dear Mr. President:
At the Republican Convention I heard you mention that you have the pictures of four (4) great Americans in your office, and that included in these is a picture of Robert E. Lee.
I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should do so is certainly beyond me.
The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being hailed as one of our heroes.
Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?
Leon W. Scott
Eisenhower's response, written on White House letterhead on August 9, 1960 reads as follows:
August 9, 1960
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.
From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lees caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the nations wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Arlington is right.
The North demurred... I guess that is one way to put it.
And with that one line, there is nothing more to say.
For me there is great honor and dignity in Robert E. Lee. Hw was not an evil man. Neither was Stonewall Jackson or JEB Stuart. Anyone reading their life stories will know that to be true.
You don't need to respond back. I already know where you stand. I just wanted you to know that I stand proudly with the three men that I mentioned.
Lee graduated in 1829, the same year that the more common 2nd edition of Rawle's book was published. I doubt Lee ever even heard of Rawle, much less read his book.
Hey you two, get a room why don't you? This is a family forum.
I thought we had an agreement that you would not post to me. You have nothing to say that I want to hear.
My dad, a fellow FReeper, has a very high opinion of Ike. He argues that Ike made it OK to vote for a Republican in the South. Millions of men followed him to war and when he ran in 1952 it was the first time many Southerners had voted Republican.
Lee served as commandant of West Point. 1852-1855.
Grant was a West Point graduate, just as Lee was.
Grant as a good guy and there is just as much to admire in his life as there is in Lee's life. There were no villians in the Civil War... okay except for Sheridan. There was honor and valor in the Union and the Confederacy. That's why studying the men who fought it is so rich and deep.
This is a misleading statistic. My dad, before he became ill, did a great deal of genealogical research on our family. In Georgia, Louisiana and Texas he says about one family in four or five had slaves. Meaning 20 or 25% of families had them. However as only the head of household owned them, and family's were large, people use numbers like this to cover the truth.
BTW before you start on me, some of my family were among the largest slave holders in the South.
Why are you posting to me?
Because the agreement was that you wouldn't post to me...not the other way around. And since you pride yourself on your 'rightness', I just thought I would make sure you had all the facts.
Same here. Nice to know there were a few seminar trollers in the 50's too. ;^)
When I was growing up we had one car. My mother didn't drive and the title to the car was in my father's name alone. So one could say that in the eyes of the state only 20% of the people in the family owned a car, but but the entire family benefitted from car ownership. Likewise with slavery. Only 6% owned slaves. But virtually all of that 6% had wives and children and, perhaps, extended family who gained benefit from the slave ownership. In some states the 1860 census indicates that upwards of half the families in some states held slaves. Many more families who did not no doubt drew economic benefit from those that did. So if it's hard to understand why people would fight so only 6% could own slaves, it's much easier to understand fighting to protect an institution that 50% or more drew benefit from.
There'll always be an argument as to who the greatest general in American history is. Some would argue MacArthur while others will scream for Patton. A few could make an argument for Bobby Lee while some would say it was WT Sherman.
IMHO, the most brilliant general in American history is George C. Marshall. This guy managed to keep such disparate personalities as Mac, Ike, Patton, Bradley, and Clark on the same wave-length without going insane.
Well, if it's facts you want then let me correct my earlier post and blow your theory right out of the water. Jacob Kobrick from Villanova wrote a paper on the failure of nationalism at antebellum West Point. His research showed that Rawle's book was used for a single year at West Point, 1826. While Lee would have been there but before Lee would have taken the Constitutional law course. In fact, the only confederate general or leader who might have taken that class was Albert Sidney Johnson. So if Lee ever heard of Rawle, he doesn't appear to have taken the course and could hardly be expected to be influenced by the book. Link.
Now, if you want to declare a joint cessation of posting to each other then I agree.
If you want to draw an analysis between Grant and Lee, Grant graduated from West Point in 1843, ranking 21st in a class of 39. Lee graduated second in his class of 46.
Grant was under educated.
Some more of your take no prisoners attitude...
You think you got me. You don't. I deeply admire Robert E. Lee. That won't change because you blew my theory out of the water. The reason I asked you not to post to me anymore is I am tired of your hate toward anything Southern.
So, if you need to post one more time to me please have at... it will ust be more of the same.
Then we can stop posting to each other.
And Lee did not have any demerits. Do you realize what an accomplishment that is? (of course you do)
Grant never beat Lee on a battlefield on equal terms. Grant overwhelmed Lee with superior manpower and firepower.
In my house, my father is a Grant man and I am a Stonewall Jackson person...so I have heard alot about Grant. There was military genius in Grant. It was different from Lee, but it was there.
Lee would not allow anyone to say anything negative about Grant after Appomattox.
Okay, but try this: "Had the Japanese or Germans or Russians or Al Quaida won, the US would still have existed....but somewhat smaller." I'm not saying that the analogy is exact, but wonder if people aren't extending to the Confederacy a degree of trust that they don't give to other powers that may have wanted to make our country "somewhat smaller."
So did mine. And it started from the roof to begin with.
Grant and Sherman were the first generals to grasp that Napoleonic tactics were outdated and their was a new form of warfare emerging, Total War. European observers completely missed it because they dismissed it as American amateurism, but the war in late 1864-early 1865 was a complete preview of what the Western Front would look like in WW1.
The editors at the Charleston Mercury agreed. They had anticipated the threat that a Republican victory would pose when in early November they warned South Carolinians and the entire South that [t]he issue before the country is the extinction of slavery. No man of common sense, who has observed the progress of events, and is not prepared to surrender the institution, they charged,can doubt that the time for action has comenow or never. The newspaper editors, like most Southerners saw Lincolns election as lifting abolitionists to power, and like most southerners they understood, as they plainly stated, that [t]he existence of slavery is at stake.
What Shall the South Carolina Legislature Do?,The Charleston Mercury, November 3, 1860. Source
Lee realized even before First Manassas that the South could not win a war of attrition. That is why he continually sought to go North. Stonewall Jackson's writings show a man who knew that the Napoleonic warfare was no longer viable. His style of fighting changed warfare as well.
I'll always admire Bobby Lee, but Stonewall was probably better suited to the type of warfare that this one brought.
If not, why do you insist that the Charleston Mercury speaks for the thousands of Southern men who died in that war?
Why not let their own words speak for them in letters written back home. Why not let Robert E. Lee's words on why he chose to fight for the Confederacy be the reason he fought.
Why must you take an issue that was not black and white and force it to be exactly that?
Yes he was...
Grant was under educated.
Oh, if class rank is the criteria, then Jefferson Davis, who graduated 23rd of 32, is even more under educated. Then there's Longstreet--54 of 56. Harry Heth must have been barely literate, since he was dead last. So was Pickett.
I responded with an account of another editorial from the same paper to indicate that slavery was very much on the minds of Charleston's secessionists.
That's not to say that everyone who wore a Confederate uniform was fighting for slavery.
But you can't throw slavery out of the picture and understand the Civil War.
"I see. If I don't grant the "integrity of the issue or the cause" then I am less an American"
IMO, you don't "see". Might makes right does it? The fact that some people died to be free of the Crown and form a "loose" federation of independent colonies that required yet another war between them to bind them into the strong nation we all enjoy today is not an apology. Likewise the fact that 150 years later the issue is still hot button, testifies to its integrity. The essential conflict-that under what circumstances must independent men be expected or required to bind themselves to a larger political entity - is just as valid today. Some of us wonder where the 10th Ammendment went, while others debate the pros & cons of centralized world government. The issue, the debate, and the heritage are all uniquely American. I'm sorry you choose to reject such heritage.
Which it was in reality. However Lincoln didn't care for any equality for blacks as he stated several times. But the abolitionists were instrumental in getting Lincoln voted in. But in reality that isn't what the war was about. Just look at what the Union's battle cry was. It WASN'T "Free the Slaves".
Ike was a great man. Of course his description fits Stonewall Jackson to a T.
God forgives all who believe upon his Son & ask for forgiveness for their sins.
Considering he was the most consistently victorious general of the War of Southern Rebellion he was more like a late bloomer.
But beat him Grant did. He fought Lee toe-to-toe, kept him on the defensive, robbed him of the initiative, and finally bottled him up in Petersburg.
As for Lee, he lost pretty convincingly up at Gettysburg, to an army of roughly equal size, and to a general that few would consider his equal. In fact, Lee lost to inferior generals to end both his campaigns in the North.
Therefore, any claim from non-sequitur is nothing more than another of his non-sequiturs.
Well that's fair enough, Pea. Kobrick gives his sources and provides the evidence he says supports his contention that Rawle's book was used for a single year 1826. What can you provide to dispute it?
Well, you have this quote, "William Rawle's Views on the Constitution, a textbook which was considered the last word on the Constitution, was taught at the U S Military Academy at West Point from 1827 until well into the 1860's. Attributed to John Mills Bigham Curator, South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Museum." Attributed to. Not a quote, but an atribution. Plus you criticize Kobrick's source, Dudley, saying his claim is unsourced. But neither is John Mills Bigham's. If Dudley is suspect then Bigham has to be as well, for the same reason. Or wouldn't you agree?
At this point, it is known that Rawle's book was popular among the instructors at West Point in the mid to late 1820's. Whether or not Lee read it, or was influenced by its reputation is unknown, although he is quoted as having read it.
Well do we actually know that? Or is that what you desperately would have us believe? It was used in a single course on Constitutional law. From that you expand it to 'popular among instructors' plural. You say mid to late 1820's, which is a far cry from a single year and for which you provide not a single documented source. As with so many other things connected with the War of Southern Rebellion, things seem to grow in the telling among the southron contingent.
I don't think everyone agrees that deathbed conversions can wash away all sins, no matter how horrid. I will find out someday. As I said, Lee's maker may have forgiven him, I don't profess to know, as you do. Lee had good character on most of his life's conduct, but his poor judgment in the Civil War contributed to 500,000 deaths and sought to perpetuate slavery, which the Christian church declared wrong within decades of Jesus' death, in the writings of St. Paul. He certainly had something to seek forgiveness for.
More of your misdirection.
Your source did some very careful editing of the Charleston Mercury editorial.
This phrase was left out of the middle of the quote you gave: "...with the safety and independence of the South...".
That was the motivation, liberty.
The south was not going to change its economy or its "peculiar institution" of slavery anytime soon. It would have lasted at least until well into the 20th century, a century in which Russia industrialized (after eliminating serfdom in 1865), Germany emerged as a leading Eurasian power, and Japan sought to take over the Pacific. A CSA side by side with a USA would have been a very dangerous thing, especially considering the CSA's desire to take over all of Mexico.
No one knows how history would have changed with a CSA and a USA, and the prevalance of your view of the right of secession. I firmly believe, however, that it would have been bad. Very bad. I also believe that Lincoln was correct in finding divine providence in the outcome of the civil war. It allowed the emergence of American global leadership, and that leadership is all that has saved the world from a newer form of slavery. We are still fighting for our vision of the world, and with luck and good leaders, we may yet eliminate the current threats to creation of a global system of free nations, those being Islam and the remnants of communism in China and Russia.
In any event, what you wanted to happen 150 years ago would have led to a far more dangerous world, one in which evil men continued to beat and whip enslaved men within a so-called civilized country for many more decades, and one in which the goodness of America would have been subsumed by that evil and its weakness the subject of predation by foreign maniacs. But you go on living your fantasies.
I have predecessors on both sides of that war. I don't judge too harshly those who fought for their state, even if in a bad cause, because they were products of their time. But I do find glory in those who saw the moral and practical issues that were presented, and chose to do the right thing. Lee was not one of those, and while he had "honor" as he understood, he is not worthy of honor by those who know better. You should know better.
"Bishop Wilmer of Louisiana stated that Robert E. Lee told him that Rawle's book was his guide to understanding the Constitution
IKE hears from one of the first moonbats.
Maybe he should have read Madison instead?