Friday, June 22, 2007

Was Lee a Traitor?

In declaring independence and establishing their own country, Southerners exercised their right to self-determination—and spent the next four years struggling to defend themselves against Lincoln's tyranny and terrorism. Yet more than a few "star-spangled patriots" have begun to repeat the old slur that Confederates, in so doing, were nothing but "traitors."
Writing in 1869, one year before his death, Robert E. Lee responded to this very charge:

"Every brave people who considered their rights attacked & their Constitutional liberties invaded, would have done as we did. Our conduct was not caused by any insurrectionary spirit nor can it be termed rebellion, for our construction of the Constitution under which we lived & acted was the same from its adoption, & for 80 years we had been taught & educated by the founders of the Republic & their written declarations which controlled our consciences & actions. The epithets that have been heaped upon us of "rebels" & "traitors" have no just meaning, nor are they believed in by those who understand the subject, even by the North."

Confederate Southerners sought to perpetuate, at least in their own country, the constitutional republic handed down to them by America's Founding Fathers. As Patrick Henry said under similar circumstances, "If this be treason, make the most of it!"

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