I Like Ike!
Washington and Lee University
Must Keep Lee in Its Name
by Gene Kizer, Jr.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an American war hero and one of our best presidents. On April 23, 1954, during his first of two terms, he said, in a speech at Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace of Hodgenville, Kentucky:
In my office in the White House, I have sketches of four great Americans on the wall: one is–and the oldest–Benjamin Franklin; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Robert E. Lee.1
President Eisenhower loved and respected Robert E. Lee, and Eisenhower is a much better judge of Lee’s character and place in history than today’s racist, hate-filled, politically correct academia.
Academia is a sick place that often is anti-white and anti-free-speech, where a true debate with diverse opinions is impossible because academia is 100% liberal and increasingly hard left liberal.
Professors and administrators know that cancel culture is alive and well in academia and if they do not enthusiastically endorse leftist positions, the liberal mob, often violent, will show up at their office. Buck the hard left and tenure is out. Often social justice warriors, rather than serious scholars, have a preference in hiring.
Eisenhower has the unique honor of having defeated the Nazis.
Academia acts like Nazis therefore Eisenhower is the perfect person to defeat the Nazis twice.
Academia has given us Critical Theory and racist identity politics.
Academia has also given us Critical Race Theory, which is nothing but anti-white racism so that leftists can shake down patriotic Americans and enrich themselves with reparations and such, and increase their political power. It rejects the thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King.
Academia and leftists in the news media do not care that these positions promote abject hatred and horribly divide our country. They are at war with America, like cancer is at war with the body it inhabits, and the only result can be death.
State legislatures need to encourage whistleblowers and students in academia to report when Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory are promoted, so that the offending institution can be defunded. It is an abomination that the good, decent American public has to finance one penny of academia’s racism, political correctness and hate.
The good people who are still in academia should encourage this even if they can’t do it publicly, because, if this kind of garbage is not removed from academia, academia will soon have ZERO credibility just like most of the news media.
Just two nights ago (April 13, 2021) James O’Keefe of Project Veritas (https://www.projectveritas.com) released damning video footage of CNN’s utter corruption and admission to manipulating the news toward their extreme leftist positions.2 CNN pretends to be part of the news media while acting more like Goebbels’s broadcast wing. Project Veritas has several days of incredible undercover video of CNN to expose this week in its CNN Exposed3 series.
No wonder our country is in trouble when major institutions like academia and the news media are so corrupt.
It is time to end cancel culture and a good place to start is the misguided attempt by a small loud group to remove Robert E. Lee’s name from Washington and Lee University. These virtue signaling social justice warriors are always the problem because they never analyze things with intelligence and put them in context. They only shout the sound bites that will play in the corrupt news media and among the leftists in academia who are trying desperately to keep the mob away from their offices.
Gen. Lee alone rescued the struggling Washington College after the War Between the States. In 1865, it only had 50 students and awarded one degree. To its great credit, it had been one of the few colleges to stay open during the war.
Here’s General Lee’s part as described on the Washington and Lee website:
Prior to the Civil War, Lee had been superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point. During his five years at Washington College, he proved to be a creative educator whose curricular innovations transformed the classical college into a modern university. He incorporated the local law school; instituted undergraduate courses in business and journalism; introduced modern languages and applied mathematics; and expanded offerings in the natural sciences.
Lee also endorsed a lasting tradition of student self-governance, putting the students in charge of the honor system that the faculty had previously overseen. “As a general principle you should not force young men to do their duty,” Lee said, “but let them do it voluntarily and thereby develop their characters.” That principle remains part of the foundation for a campus culture that fosters honor, integrity, and civility.
When Lee died on Oct. 12, 1870, the college had regained its financial footing and enrollment had grown to more than 400 students. Upon his death, the faculty requested that the trustees rename the college in Lee’s honor. The trustees agreed, changing the name to Washington and Lee University.4
The website goes on to criticize George Washington and Robert E. Lee for being slaveholders though it is questionable whether Lee was a slaveholder. Many scholars maintain that Lee was not a slaveholder. There is no record of Lee ever purchasing a slave himself. Some have speculated that Lee could have inherited a few slaves from his mother, Ann Hill Carter Lee, in 1829 at her death, but there is no record of that either. Encyclopedia Virginia describes it this way:
Ann Carter Lee itemized the slaves she bequeathed to her daughter, Ann Kinloch Lee, but the only designation of property to her youngest son was a vague division of “the remainder of my estate” among Robert and his two older brothers, Charles Carter Lee and Sidney Smith Lee.5
The Washington and Lee University websites goes on to say:
We unequivocally denounce the motivations behind the Confederate cause that Lee chose to defend as well as the views of individuals and groups who employ Confederate imagery to promote an agenda of white supremacy, racism, and xenophobia.
We are committed to educating our community and the public about our namesakes and their role in shaping the history of this institution, our country, and the values that continue to inform our world today. That includes acknowledging that Robert E. Lee chose to fight on the side that sought to preserve the institution of slavery.
Washington and Lee is not committed to “educating our community and the public about our namesakes.” They are committed to a politically correct slander of Gen. Lee and the Southern cause.
Southerners were fighting for independence, not slavery. Slavery was unquestionably protected in the Union by the Constitution and as proven by the many resolutions and votes of the United States Congress supporting slavery after the South seceded. Lincoln supported, and the Congress voted for, the Corwin Amendment that would have left blacks in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress. Several Northern states ratified it until the war started and made it moot.
There is also the War Aims Resolution of the Northern Congress stating clearly that the war is being fought, as Lincoln said over and over, to preserve the Union, not interfere with slavery.
There is irrefutable proof that the North did not fight the war to end slavery. They fought because 1) Lincoln thought, with the enormous advantages of the North such as four times the white population of the South and 100 times the manufacturing, an army, navy, unlimited immigration to feed Northern armies (25% of the Union Army were new immigrants, etc.) they could win easily; and 2) the North did not want a free trade nation with 100% control of King Cotton on its southern border; 3) the Northern economy was in serious trouble, which is why Northern newspapers like the New York Evening Post said things like this:
[A]llow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent., which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York: the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woolen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union.6
This panic was all over the North. It was not slavery they were worried about. It was their money. Here is the Manchester, New Hampshire Union Democrat:
[W]hen people realize the fact that the Union is permanently dissolved, real estate will depreciate one half in a single year.—Our population will decrease with the decline of business, and matters will go in geometrical progression from bad to worse—until all of us will be swamped in utter ruin. Let men consider—apply the laws of business, and see if they can reach any different conclusion.7
Of course, academia is so shallow and politically correct no student will ever hear any of that, so Washington and Lee University’s statement that “We are committed to educating our community and the public about our namesakes” is a LIE. They are committed to one-sided slander and character assassination because it fits their liberal politics. They are not the least bit committed to truth.
Another important thing.
Virginia did not secede over anything to do with slavery. Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina, in which 52.4% of white Southerners lived, rejected secession at first, when the Cotton States seceded.
However, the moment Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina seceded, and clearly, the issue was their horror at the prospect of Federal coercion. They did not believe the Federal Government had a right to invade a sovereign state and murder its citizens and destroy their property.
Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina’s motives were the most honorable imaginable. There was nothing in the Constitution in 1861 that required or permitted Abraham Lincoln and his Northern states to invade the peaceful states of the South that just wanted to govern themselves. Southerners were defending their homes from a barbaric invasion.
Southerners would have ended slavery within a generation in a much better way than 750,000 men dying and over a million being mutilated on the battlefield, followed by a century-and-a-half of second class citizenship for African Americans.
The most powerful affirmation of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s character comes from General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower who, as stated, had a sketch of Gen. Lee on his White House wall his entire eight years in office, along with sketches of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.
So, both of Washington and Lee University’s namesakes had their sketches on the wall of the White House office of one of our most famous military leaders and presidents the whole time he was in office.
There is much more.
President Eisenhower left a detailed letter in his official records praising Gen. Lee as the courageous, inspiring hero he was.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1st Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in World War II, later president of the United States for eight years, received an angry letter from a New York dentist, Dr. Leon W. Scott, on August 1, 1960, upset about President Eisenhower’s picture of Robert E. Lee in his office. Eisenhower took the time to write a thoughtful, detailed letter back to Dr. Scott. Below is Dr. Scott’s letter followed by Eisenhower’s.
Scott wrote on August 1st:
I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should do so is certainly beyond me.
The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did, was to devote his best efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of being held as one of our heroes.8
President Eisenhower wrote back on August 9th:
Dear Dr. Scott:
Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to understand that at the time of the War between the States the issue of secession had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character, public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was adopted.
General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America; he was a poised and inspiring leader, true to the high trust reposed in him by millions of his fellow citizens; he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle, and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his faith in God. Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I read the pages of our history.
From deep conviction, I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee’s caliber would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the Nation’s wounds once the bitter struggle was over, will be strengthened and our love of freedom sustained.
Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great American on my office wall.
Dwight D. Eisenhower9
I’d say leaving the name as Washington and Lee University is a no-brainer.
Washington and Lee has a chance to help America by making an unequivocal statement that they are rejecting cancel-culture, and the rest of the country should too.
P.S. Please get this article into the hands of the good folks fighting for Gen. Lee at Washington and Lee University in hopes it will help them WIN their important fight. Millions of Americans across the country are FED UP with wokeness and political correctness, and are pulling hard for them!