Removing Confederate monuments has done little to erase the American Civil War – a bloody carnage fought over 150 years ago.
Maybe those who seek to delete the past have a past of their own they wish to delete and thus have transferred their guilt to the pages of history and to the courthouse squares? I can not speak for those whose minds are so clouded by a few facts and a great deal of self righteous hysteria. I can however after careful research of the facts state with assurance that President Grant would never have approved. He would have been the first to stand before a statute of General Robert E. Lee and pay homage.
For the sake of those who are unaware of the two Generals and their interconnected history I will do my best to provide facts and figures which should resolve any doubts regarding their history.
General Robert E. Lee was a legendary general whose academic skills at West Point have yet to be equaled. He was also Grant’s superior during the Mexican war which occurred during the 1840s. Grant like so many of his era held Lee in high esteem. Grant was a rock solid Yankee whereas Lee’s devotion lay firmly in the arms of Virginia. Lee was a blue blood who married the great granddaughter of George Washington. He was the state of the art soldier – impeccable, impressive and a true spit and polish military man. Grant on the other hand was known to be rather untidy. He was even chastised by Lee for his unkempt appearance.
Their lives would intersect on the pages of history which would end in the defeat of the South in 1865. The four year Civil war was one of horrific losses – a battlefield of blood which painted the landscape of a dozen states. In the end when Lee surrendered – he did so with class and character, true to form. He was impeccably dressed – even in defeat. Grant accepted the South’s loss with an equal dose of class. He ordered his men to show respect to General Lee and his homage to his mentor continued long after the last gun shot of the war.
During the 1880s, after Grant had been elected President of the US, he began to write his autobiography. He did so with urgency as he had been diagnosed with cancer. As news of his illness reached the ears of the public former soldiers from the Civil War began to arrive at Grant’s home. The soldiers stood outside and respectfully asked Mrs. Grant if they could visit the General? They often stated they had fought for the South. Mrs. Grant’s comment was said to affirm it would be fine, the General would enjoy their visit. They were all Americans now. And so the visits continued until the General was too ill to receive visitors.
At his funeral in 1885 six pall bearers were chosen to escort the coffin of President Grant. In accordance with his wishes three former Confederate and three former Union soldiers walked from the church in a respectful formation. The former soldiers could wear their uniforms if they so wished. In a show of unity the pall bearers did interchange their uniforms. It was a splendid display of honoring the wishes of a true peace maker.
When I think of that day – I can not help but shake my head when I see Confederate statues being removed in New Orleans just to please a few misguided folks. When I hear Robert E. Lee high school in Houston is going to be renamed – it must make General Grant roll in his grave. He would have been the first to suggest honoring General Lee and the first to tell you to leave the statues alone.