Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The best thing Robert E. Lee ever said, and how he's like modern liberals

"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I have rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be great for the interests of the south. So fully am I satisfied with this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained." -Robert E. Lee (Statement to John Leyburn (1 May 1870), as quoted in R. E. Lee: A Biography (1934) by Douglas Southall Freeman)

Lee was a typical slaveowner of his day. He was not an extremist for or against slavery. As his famous letter of 1856 makes clear, he believed in gradual emancipation, much like today's liberals who defend capitalism—he wanted changes that would not affect the privileges that come with wealth. But based on this quote, when it was clear change had come, he accepted it.

His 1856 letter includes a sentiment that's shared by capitalists today: "Is it not strange that the descendants of those pilgrim fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion, have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others." Every exploiter believes freedom is the freedom to exploit.