If Confederate General Robert E. Lee were a one-dimensional man, a celluloid or cardboard cartoon character, then I might go along with his detractors who say that he is a man best forgotten. As in a messy divorce, each side simplifies the story and adds details that are construed as justification of wrongdoing, and each side accuses the other side of denial. One theme running through the writings of biographer Emory M. Thomas is that Lees life was a constant tension between freedom and control a tension that plays out in the lives of all of us every day.
- He is a major historical figure with severe flaws, and also admirable qualities that made him a hero, indeed a Christ figure, to some five generations since the end of the Civil War.
- He was a complex man, worthy of study, remembrance and, for some things, respect.
- Lee owned slaves. This is a hard reality. He consciously tried to do the right thing, not by the standards of our day, but in his own time and place.
“If Confederate General Robert E. Lee were a one-dimensional man, a celluloid or cardboard cartoon character, then I might go along with his detractors who say that he is a man best forgotten.”