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A Portrait in Letters (Newly Discovered Robert E. Lee)
The Washington Post ^ | July 12, 2007 | Peter Carlson

Posted on 07/12/2007 6:04:07 AM PDT by RDTF

Two old steamer trunks sit in the rare-book room at the Virginia Historical Society, looking worn and forlorn. The smaller one was once red but the paint has faded to a dull rust. The larger one is brown with a piece of tin patching a hole in the top. On one side, a name is stenciled: "M. LEE."

That's Mary Custis Lee, Gen. Robert E. Lee's adventurous eldest daughter. In 1917, she stored these wooden trunks in the "silver vault" in the basement of Burke & Herbert Bank & Trust in Alexandria. A year later, she died at the age of 83. Her trunks sat in a dusty corner of the vault for 84 years, unclaimed, until E. Hunt Burke, the bank's vice chairman, discovered them in 2002.

Burke called his high school classmate Rob E.L. deButts Jr., who is Robert E. Lee's great-great-grandson. Together, the two men descended into the vault. Burke carried a basket of old keys.

"The first one I pulled out was a perfect fit," he says.

The trunks were stuffed with Lee family papers -- a priceless cache of 4,000 letters, photographs and documents. DeButts carted them to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, which houses the world's largest collection of Lee papers. He spent a week there, sitting at a desk in the research library, reaching into Mary Custis Lee's trunks and picking out treasures and trash.

-snip-

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: civilwar; dixie; history; marycustislee; robertelee; virginiahistory
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1 posted on 07/12/2007 6:04:08 AM PDT by RDTF
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To: RDTF; stainlessbanner; 4CJ; stand watie

CSA bump


2 posted on 07/12/2007 6:06:13 AM PDT by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: RDTF

3 posted on 07/12/2007 6:06:22 AM PDT by RDTF (Republicans believe every day is July 4th, but Democrats believe every day is April 15th. - Reagan)
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To: RDTF

Stuff like this gives me goosebumps! Eagerly looking forward to what new information these trunks contain.


4 posted on 07/12/2007 6:09:06 AM PDT by HanneyBean
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To: RDTF

Yeeeeehaw!.......The Confederate Rosetta Stone!.........


5 posted on 07/12/2007 6:13:16 AM PDT by Red Badger (No wonder Mexico is so filthy. Everybody who does cleaning jobs is HERE!.......)
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To: RDTF

I wonder if it says anything like “I foresee a future where whites will be legally discriminated against with minority quotas, set-asides, minority only scholarships, minority only boost in civil service tests, diversity programs, multiculturalism and such. Where colleges will teach socialism and vilify western culture and Christianity. Where illegal aliens will have more rights then citizens. Where boys will be taught to act like girls and girls will be taught to act like prostitutes. Where defending your country from attacks will be seen as crazy and where cowards and surrender monkeys will destroy America for their very own power...


6 posted on 07/12/2007 6:14:44 AM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: RDTF
Fascinating background on America’s greatest general.
7 posted on 07/12/2007 6:14:58 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: RDTF
DeButts carted them to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond, which houses the world's largest collection of Lee papers.

Shepard hustled downstairs and deButts showed him what he'd just picked out of the trunk: an envelope containing three cloth stars -- general's stars -- that Lee cut off his Confederate uniform after he surrendered at Appomattox.

That it. I’m headed to the Virginia Historical Society in Richmond on my next batch of vacation days.

Then back down through Louisiana to visit Dad's grave and such in Baton Rouge.

Guess I will need a digital camera fast enough to not need a flash. Any suggestions anyone?

8 posted on 07/12/2007 6:15:34 AM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: RDTF

Very interesting article. Thanks for the post.


9 posted on 07/12/2007 6:17:02 AM PDT by Lurking in Kansas (Nothing witty here...)
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To: billbears

ping for later


10 posted on 07/12/2007 6:17:14 AM PDT by mikeus_maximus (Islam is the poisonous soil that bears evil fruit.)
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To: RDTF

“Was Robert E. Lee’s daughter, in some perverse way, a forerunner of Rosa Parks?”

I don’t understand why it was “perverse.”


11 posted on 07/12/2007 6:17:38 AM PDT by Mercat
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To: RDTF

Thanks, enjoyed this. She was quite a lady. I am surprised that she never married.


12 posted on 07/12/2007 6:18:56 AM PDT by Dudoight
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To: HanneyBean

In most high school History texts today, Lee is a nonperson. Because he fought for the side which upheld slavery he can’t be mentioned, or only mentioned in passing.

His military brillance, his character, his love of his country, Virginia are all unmentionables. Ask a teenager about Lee today, most of never heard of him.

And that’s the way it is.


13 posted on 07/12/2007 6:19:55 AM PDT by kjo
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To: RDTF

Interesting.


14 posted on 07/12/2007 6:21:01 AM PDT by Dante3
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To: kjo

“Ask a teenager about Lee today, most of never heard of him.”

But he’ll know how hip AlGore is. Makes me want to hurl!


15 posted on 07/12/2007 6:22:43 AM PDT by JZelle
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To: 2banana

I’m guessing, no.


16 posted on 07/12/2007 6:30:04 AM PDT by Lee'sGhost (Crom! Non-Sequitur = Pee Wee Herman.)
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To: 2banana

It really is shocking where our nation is today. It can not last much longer on this course.


17 posted on 07/12/2007 6:32:48 AM PDT by MBB1984
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To: Mercat

I caught that, too. The writer just couldn’t do the piece without somehow making SOME derogatory remark.

I took a minute to read a little about Mrs. Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee and found these two nice little nuggets.

“Again following the example of her mother, Mary Lee taught Arlington slave women to sew, read and write. Advocating the idea of eventual emancipation, Mary wanted to ensure that all of the enslaved people, would be able to support themselves when they were freed.”

snip

“After the Civil War, Mary accompanied Robert to Lexington, Virginia where he became the president of Washington College, later named Washington & Lee University. Arlington was very important to her and she never quite got over its loss. “Life is waning away, and with the exception of my own immediate family, I am cut off from all I have ever known & loved in my youth & my dear old Arlington I cannot bear to think of that used as it is now & so little hope of my ever getting there again. I do not think I can die in peace until I have seen it once more.”

“Mary Lee did visit Arlington a few months before her death in 1873. Unable to get out of the carriage, one of her former slaves, brought her a drink of water from the well. “I rode out to my dear old home but so changed it seemed but a dream of the past—I could not have realised (sic) it was Arlington but for the few old oaks they had spared & the trees planted by the Genl and myself which are raising their tall branches to the Heaven which seems to smile on the desecration around them.”

From http://www.nps.gov/archive/arho/tour/history/bios/marclee.html


18 posted on 07/12/2007 6:35:00 AM PDT by Lee'sGhost (Crom! Non-Sequitur = Pee Wee Herman.)
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To: RDTF

We lived in Richmond for a time. A wonderful city. In some quarters, the War of Northern Aggression isn’t over yet, and the Yankees most certainly didn’t win.

I loved that town.


19 posted on 07/12/2007 6:35:22 AM PDT by trimom
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To: RDTF

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.

— Robert E. Lee


20 posted on 07/12/2007 6:38:16 AM PDT by ol' hoghead (He is not here; for he is risen.)
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To: Mercat
“Was Robert E. Lee’s daughter, in some perverse way, a forerunner of Rosa Parks?”
I don’t understand why it was “perverse.”


Obviously because it doesn't fit the modern stereotype of the evil Southern slave holder.


21 posted on 07/12/2007 6:40:55 AM PDT by The Lumster (USA - where the innocent have nothing to fear!)
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To: RDTF; leda

Excellent find.


22 posted on 07/12/2007 6:41:44 AM PDT by patton (19yrs ... only 4,981yrs to go ;))
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To: TLI
ne day, deButts called Shepard's office from the library. "You have got to come down here," he said, sounding excited. Shepard hustled downstairs and deButts showed him what he'd just picked out of the trunk: an envelope containing three cloth stars -- general's stars -- that Lee cut off his Confederate uniform after he surrendered at Appomattox.

Three cloth stars alone indicated a colonel in the confederate army, all general officers regardless of rank wore three stars in a wreath. Lee, for whatever reason, preferred to wear the colonel's rank on his uniform during the war.

23 posted on 07/12/2007 6:41:50 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur (Save Fredericksburg. Support CVBT.)
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To: RDTF

I would love to sit there and review everything in there...

Very cool!


24 posted on 07/12/2007 6:45:15 AM PDT by The Mayor ( A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.—Proverbs 16:9)
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To: Non-Sequitur

great tidbit


25 posted on 07/12/2007 6:46:17 AM PDT by KC Burke (Men of intemperate minds can never be free...their passions forge their fetters.)
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To: RDTF
Your old home if not destroyed by our enemies has been so desecrated that I cannot bear to think of it," he writes. "I should have preferred it to have been wiped from the earth, its beautiful hill sunk, its sacred trees burned rather than to have been degraded by the presence of those who revel in the ill they do for their own selfish purposes."

It's kind of interesting that General Lee's estate has become the closest thing we have to sacred ground in America. I think he'd be proud of it today.

26 posted on 07/12/2007 6:49:42 AM PDT by Terabitten (Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets - E-Frat '94. Unity and Pride!)
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To: Non-Sequitur

Wasn’t he a Colonel in the Federal Army before he resigned? If so, maybe that had something to do with....speculation of course.


27 posted on 07/12/2007 6:51:02 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: lovecraft
Wasn’t he a Colonel in the Federal Army before he resigned? If so, maybe that had something to do with....speculation of course.

He was, and there is a lot of speculation why he insisted on wearing his old rank. If Lee himself ever explained why I'm not aware of it.

28 posted on 07/12/2007 6:53:49 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur (Save Fredericksburg. Support CVBT.)
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To: Non-Sequitur

He was a colonel when he left the US Army, wasn’t he?


29 posted on 07/12/2007 6:55:26 AM PDT by Terabitten (Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets - E-Frat '94. Unity and Pride!)
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To: Mercat
"I don’t understand why it was “perverse.”"

It is perverse if you think like a socialist. R.E. Lee's daughter was a racist, froth-at-the-mouth bigot, because her father was one of the top two or three racists in human history. Marse Robert was a bigot since he refused to allow the Federal Government to illegally trash the economy and laws of his state for some vague "high moral purpose."

Lee was a slave owner, and, like all slavers, raped and tortured his property on a regular basis. Did you know that, despite being a hereditary heir of the country's founding royalty, Lee was a traitor to his elite class?

/sarcasm off

30 posted on 07/12/2007 6:56:02 AM PDT by jonascord (Hurrah! for the Bonney Blue Flag that bears the Single Star!)
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To: Non-Sequitur
If Lee himself ever explained why I'm not aware of it.

Me either, I've studied this history more than most but less than a lot of people. I don't recall coming across that piece of info. Though I never really thought about til now either....back to the books! LOL

31 posted on 07/12/2007 7:00:59 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: kjo
Ask a teenager about Lee today, most of never heard of him.

If they did, they'd say "isn't that the name of that orange car in that movie".....
32 posted on 07/12/2007 7:01:00 AM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: HanneyBean

In a similar but much more humble vein, a woman that I go to church with presented me with a old tin box. She had no one to leave the contents to and knowing my love of history thought I would be best to inventory and conserve the items. When I opened it I was amazed to find a beautiful collection of artifacts that were owned and carried by her Great Grandfather who was a Sgt with the 141st NY Vol. during the war. Best of all was a bundle of letters tied in ribbon. Over 300 of them from 1862 to 1868 almost all were from him to his future wife. Most of them are describing camplife and being on the march with Sherman. Its mostly a love story set against the backdrop of the war. I assembled them in the order he wrote them and began the task of deciphering the faded and spidery writing. It took me about four months to get them all in clear text. Originally I simply wished for my friend to meet her ancestor. She had once tried to read them but gave up. When I presented her with the stack of pages I watched her hands tremble as he held the first page and she began to cry. Later she suggested that it might make a good book. I agreed and with her permission it is in process of being published both as a book and as a screen play. The photographs and relics are very nice some of them are things I’ve never seen before. It should be out sometime this Fall.


33 posted on 07/12/2007 7:02:59 AM PDT by Leg Olam
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To: Non-Sequitur
for whatever reason, preferred to wear the colonel's rank on his uniform during the war.

Could be why his men were so loyal. In his heart and in his actions he was really just one of them, a southern American fighting for his home against an encroaching federalist government.

34 posted on 07/12/2007 7:26:06 AM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: EdReform; TheZMan; Texas Mulerider; Oorang; freedomfiter2; SWEETSUNNYSOUTH; BnBlFlag; ...

Dixie Ping


35 posted on 07/12/2007 7:26:44 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: Lee Heggy123

ping


36 posted on 07/12/2007 7:26:47 AM PDT by Truth is a Weapon (Truth, it hurts soooo good!)
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To: jonascord; 2banana
Marse Robert was a bigot since he refused to allow the Federal Government to illegally trash the economy and laws of his state for some vague "high moral purpose."

Okay, I was just perusing this thread for historical interest, and as a Southerner whose ancestors fought for the Union (and a product of the Federalist/Whig political tradition--America's true conservative tradition) I don't really fit into any easy category, since I'm opposed both to worship of the Confederacy and hatred of the South. And as a Theocrat, I don't even regard slavery as inherently wrong (provided it is practiced within Divine guidelines).

HOWEVER--this attack on morality is simply too much. "Morality" simply means G-d's Laws, and G-d's Laws are the only laws there really are. How ironic that "paleoconservatives" who are supposed to be "theocons" are attacking morality!

Henotheism and religious subjectivism are the true inner secrets of "palaeoconservatism," which is why their attacks on universal morality and advocacy of disparate local customs sounds so much like the Left's mantra "deze are de wayz of our pipples."

Further ironies: "western civilzation" and chr*stianity being defended from liberals whose main clients are Fundamentalist Protestants (Blacks) and inquisition Catholics (illegal Mexican immigrants). Sounds chr*stian and "western" to me!

General Lee may have been a patriot to Virginia, but he fought against the United States of America. That's fine if you don't claim to be an American (rather than a state) patriot. But to claim to love the United States of America while cheering a man who fought against it simply makes no sense.

I'm afraid the Jeffersonian/Calhounian "compact theory" is once again on the rise and being adopted by "conservatives." FCOL, doesn't anyone remember America's original conservatives--the Hamiltonian Federalists???

Once again, please remember that I am a Southerner and have no use for South-haters, nor do I dismiss slavery has inherently immoral, so please kindly refrain from the usual charges against those who don't identify with the Confederacy (though I certainly don't demonize it).

37 posted on 07/12/2007 7:28:58 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator ("Ve`attah, hirgu khol-zakhar bataf; vekhol-'ishah yoda`at 'ish lemishkav zakhar harogu!")
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To: billbears
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

free dixie,sw

38 posted on 07/12/2007 7:29:02 AM PDT by stand watie ("Resistance to tyrants is OBEDIENCE to God." - T. Jefferson, 1804)
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To: stainlessbanner

Oh, WOW!


39 posted on 07/12/2007 7:30:13 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("A dependence on mass immigration is always a structural weakness and should be understood as such.")
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To: Dudoight
I am surprised that she never married.

General Lee encouraged his daughters to remain at home to care for their invalid mother. In addition, the daughters suffered poor health as well.

40 posted on 07/12/2007 7:32:38 AM PDT by Tax-chick ("A dependence on mass immigration is always a structural weakness and should be understood as such.")
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To: TLI

==> “ Guess I will need a digital camera fast enough to not need a flash. Any suggestions anyone?” <==

Look for a very high ISO number. This is analogous to film speed, and indicates the effective sensitivity of the sensor to light. However, in digital cameras this is usually achieved by electronic means that introduce noise (random variations) into the picture. The alternative is a better lens that gathers more light, a more expensive solution.


41 posted on 07/12/2007 7:41:14 AM PDT by MainFrame65 (The US Senate: World's greatest PREVARICATIVE body!)
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To: TLI
Could be why his men were so loyal. In his heart and in his actions he was really just one of them, a southern American fighting for his home against an encroaching federalist government.

I think his men were loyal to him because he won far more often than he lost.

42 posted on 07/12/2007 7:41:33 AM PDT by Non-Sequitur (Save Fredericksburg. Support CVBT.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Not to get off the subject of the thread (letters from the daughter of one of this nation’s finest heroes) but I have to say what you just typed has to be the most warped messed up nonsense I’ve ever read. Course you would believe Hamilton’s ilk was the original ‘conservatism’. You claim to be a theocrat who supports slavery in the ‘right’ condition? No doubt about it, you’re a yank through and through...


43 posted on 07/12/2007 7:41:35 AM PDT by billbears (Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. --Santayana)
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To: RDTF

WOW!


44 posted on 07/12/2007 7:43:10 AM PDT by Badeye (You know its a kook site when they ban the word 'kook')
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To: Mercat

“I don’t understand why it was “perverse.””

Because the war that her father led was infinitely more about keeping slaves than states rights.


45 posted on 07/12/2007 7:44:07 AM PDT by elfman2 (An army of amateurs doing the media's job.)
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To: Zionist Conspirator

Try proof-reading that post bigboy.


46 posted on 07/12/2007 7:45:47 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: RDTF

On Sept. 23, 1862 — a few days after Lee’s army retreated to Virginia after an unsuccessful invasion of Maryland — the general wrote to Mary on a piece of cheap blue paper. Now, nearly 144 years later, the words are barely legible. “We had two hard fought battles in Maryland and did not consider ourselves beaten as our enemies supposed,” he wrote. “We were greatly outnumbered and opposed by double if not treble our strength and yet we repulsed all their attacks, held our ground and retired when it suited our convenience.”

That’s an interesting spin on the Battle of Antietam, an event that Abraham Lincoln considered a Union victory.

Actually, this is an interesting ‘spin’ by the Washington Post about the battle of Antietam / Sharpsburg.

Lee’s view is historically accurate. Lincoln claimed it was a ‘victory’ for the simple reason he was desperate to offer up the Emancipation Proclamation.

Between McClellan’s cowardice, and the ‘vaunted’ Pinkerton’s completely and totally fabricated ‘intelligence reports’ stating Lee had 200,000 troops when he had at best 37,000 the battle that should have ended the war right then and there was mismanaged to a degree thats unbelievable.


47 posted on 07/12/2007 7:50:33 AM PDT by Badeye (You know its a kook site when they ban the word 'kook')
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To: RDTF

In 1874, the Lee family filed suit to reclaim its Arlington estate. In 1882, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the family’s favor, saying, in essence, that the government cannot seize a man’s land simply because he has led an army of rebellion against that government. Of course, the family members did not want to live in a cemetery, so they agreed to accept $150,000 for the land — a huge sum in those days.

Another ‘wow’. I had no idea they sued and won, and were paid for the property.


48 posted on 07/12/2007 7:53:34 AM PDT by Badeye (You know its a kook site when they ban the word 'kook')
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To: Mercat
“Was Robert E. Lee’s daughter, in some perverse way, a forerunner of Rosa Parks?”

I don’t understand why it was “perverse.”

Perhaps because she treated negro slaves back then better than black American leaders treat black Americans today ;-(

49 posted on 07/12/2007 8:02:38 AM PDT by American in Singapore (Bill Clinton: The Human Stain)
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To: RDTF

“Dear Plantation Forum, I never knew the stories in your newspaper were true, until one night when Stonewall Jackson and I encountered a woman named Mary Todd who invited us for some supper...”


50 posted on 07/12/2007 8:04:34 AM PDT by Clemenza (Rudy Giuliani, like Pesto and Seattle, belongs in the scrap heap of '90s Culture)
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