Praise For Lee And Jackson
By Chuck Baldwin
January 16, 2007
This column is archived at http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2007/cbarchive_20070116.html
January is often referred to as "Generals Month" as no less
than four famous Confederate Generals claimed January as their birth
month: James Longstreet (Jan. 8, 1821), Robert E. Lee (Jan. 19,
1807), Thomas Jonathan Jackson (Jan. 21, 1824), and George Pickett
(Jan. 28, 1825). Two of these men, Lee and Jackson, are particularly
noteworthy. This is especially true, as this year will mark General
Lee's two hundredth birthday.
Without question, Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson were
two of the greatest military leaders of all time. Even more, the Lee
and Jackson tandem is regarded by many military historians as having
formed perhaps the greatest battlefield duo in the history of
warfare. If Jackson had survived the battle of Chancellorsville, it
is very possible that the South would have prevailed at Gettysburg
and perhaps would even have won the War Between The States.
In fact, it was Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the
British armies in the early Twentieth Century, who said, "In my
opinion, Stonewall Jackson was one of the greatest natural military
geniuses the world ever saw. I will go even further than that-as a
campaigner in the field, he never had a superior. In some respects,
I doubt whether he ever had an equal."
While the strategies and circumstances of the War Of Northern
Aggression can (and will) be debated by professionals and laymen
alike, one fact is undeniable:
Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson
were two of the finest Christian gentlemen this country has ever
produced. Both their character and their conduct were beyond
Unlike his northern counterpart, Ulysses S. Grant, General Lee
never sanctioned or condoned slavery. Upon inheriting slaves from
his deceased father-in-law, Lee immediately freed them. And
according to historians, Jackson enjoyed a familial relationship
with those few slaves which were in his home. In addition, unlike
Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, neither Lee nor Jackson ever spoke
disparagingly of the black race.
As those who are familiar with history know, General Grant and
his wife held personal slaves before and during the War Between The
States, and even Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not free
them. They were not freed until the Thirteenth Amendment was passed
after the conclusion of the war. Grant's excuse for not freeing his
slaves was that "good help is so hard to come by these days."
Furthermore, it is well established that Jackson regularly
conducted a Sunday School class for black children. This was a
ministry he took very seriously. As a result, he was dearly loved
and appreciated by the children and their parents.
In addition, both Jackson and Lee emphatically supported the
abolition of slavery. In fact, Lee called slavery "a moral and
political evil." He also said "the best men in the South" opposed it
and welcomed its demise. Jackson said he wished to see "the shackles
struck from every slave."
To think that Lee and Jackson (and the vast majority of
Confederate soldiers) would fight and die to preserve an institution
they considered evil and abhorrent is the height of absurdity. It is
equally repugnant to impugn and denigrate the memory of these
remarkable Christian gentlemen.
In fact, after refusing Abraham Lincoln's offer to command the
Union Army in 1861, Robert E. Lee wrote to his sister on April 20 of
that year to explain his decision. In the letter he wrote, "With all
my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an
American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise
my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I have therefore
resigned my commission in the army and save in defense of my native
state, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be
needed . . ."
Lee's decision to resign his commission with the Union Army
must have been the most difficult decision of his life. Remember
that Lee's direct ancestors had fought in America's War For
Independence. His father, "Light Horse Harry" Henry Lee, was a
Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia, and member of
Congress. In addition, members of his family were signatories to the
Declaration of Independence.
Remember, too, that not only did Robert E. Lee graduate from
West Point at the top of his class, he is yet today the only cadet
to graduate from that prestigious academy without a single demerit.
However, Lee knew that what Lincoln was about to do was both
immoral and unconstitutional. As a man of honor and integrity, the
only thing Lee could do was that which his father had done: fight
for freedom and independence. And that is exactly what he did.
Instead of allowing a politically correct culture to sully the
memory of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson, all Americans should
hold them in a place of highest honor and respect. Anything less is
a disservice to history and a disgrace to the principles of truth
Accordingly, it was more than appropriate that the late
President Gerald Ford, on August 5, 1975, signed Senate Joint
Resolution 23, "restoring posthumously the long overdue, full rights
of citizenship to General Robert E. Lee." According to President
Ford, "This legislation corrects a 110-year oversight of American
history." He further said, "General Lee's character has been an
example to succeeding generations . . ."
The significance of General Lee's (and Thomas Jackson's) life
cannot be overvalued. While the character and influence of most of
us will barely be remembered two hundred days after our departure,
the sterling character of these men has endured for two hundred
years. What a shame that so many of America's youth are being robbed
of knowing and studying the virtue and integrity of the great
General Robert E. Lee and General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson.
(c) Chuck Baldwin
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