Robert E. Lee and Me
Posted By : manager
Posted : March 25, 2021
Part Two, Conclusion, of the Review of
Robert E. Lee and Me
A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause
by Ty Seidule, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point
By Gene Kizer, Jr.
[Publisher’s Note: Last week Col. Jerry D. Morelock gave us Part One of this two-part review of Ty Seidule’s book, Robert E. Lee and Me. Here is Part Two, the conclusion.]
A number of good historians have written reviews recently of Ty Seidule’s book, Robert E. Lee and Me, including historian Phil Leigh who produced the video, Robert E. Lee and (Woke General) Please Like Me. Leigh also wrote a good article, Robert E. Lee and Ty Seidule.
All of these reviews note that the tone of Robert E. Lee and Me is a desperate plea by Seidule for academia to “please PLEASE like me!” Academia is Seidule’s new home. He has gone from the United States Military Academy at West Point, to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.1
For Seidule to write such an embarrassing screed on his way into academia is understandable. Most of academia looks down on the military and military personnel. One of my professors at the College of Charleston in 1999, when I was a middle-age student, was Dr. Clark G. Reynolds. We became close friends. He told me on several occasions about the condescension of other faculty members toward military historians and the military itself.
Dr. Reynolds would know because he was a very fine naval historian who had written several important books and served on the faculty of the United States Naval Academy, and as Chair of the Department of Humanities at the United States Merchant Marine Academy.2
Robert E. Lee and Me is a non-history book that is so historically irrelevant it doesn’t even have an index.
It was written by a virtue-signaling narcissist whose obvious goal is to make sure academia knows that he is woke and correct on all the leftist political issues of today that resonate in academia and are the focus of history departments that have hired social justice warriors instead of historians.
It is extremely propagandistic. It is peppered with leftist talking points, references to white supremacy, fights over Confederate monuments, the Emanuel AME Church murders in Charleston, Charlottesville, George Floyd’s death, and other current issues that Seiudule uses to tar Robert E. Lee and Southern history.
Seidule is going from the most successful colorblind meritocracy in all of history — the United States Military — into a racist, non-diversified, America-hating, free-speech hating, Marxist-loving indoctrination mill.
Academia has also given us the racist identity politics of Critical Theory, and the anti-white hate and racism of Critical Race Theory that now pollutes much of the country.
The problem with academia is that it is 100% liberal and aggressively politically correct meaning there is no real debate on anything. I know the actual percentage of liberal professors and administrators is closer to only 90%, but the other 10 are not going to speak up. Even the professors who disagree with leftist dogma don’t dare say anything and risk losing tenure or having the mob show up at their office. The whole environment is sick, but Seidue’s book will fit him right in.
My apologies to the truly open-minded folks still in academia who are appalled by racist identity politics, Critical Theory, Critical Race Theory, attacks on free speech and all the rest of it. I know there are some wonderful people in academia, but you know I am right about my description of most of it.
On the very first page of Robert E. Lee and Me, Seidule talks about a PragerU video he did in 2015 entitled “Was the Civil War About Slavery?”. He states that he answers that question in the first 30 seconds:
Many people don’t want to believe that the citizens of the southern states were willing to fight and die to preserve the morally repugnant institution of slavery. There has to be another reason, we are told. Well, there isn’t. The evidence is clear and overwhelming. Slavery was, by a wide margin, the single most important cause of the Civil War.3
No it wasn’t.
Slavery was not the “single most important cause of the Civil War.”
Not even close.
In Seidule’s entire book, he does not even mention, once, the economic interconnectedness of the North and South in 1860, yet that was the underlying factor in causing the war, not slavery.
Southerners seceded to govern themselves. They expected to live in peace, but Lincoln could not allow that and the reason was 100% economic.
If it wasn’t, Northerners like The Chicago Times would not have said things like:
In one single blow our foreign commerce must be reduced to less than one-half what it now is. Our coastwise trade would pass into other hands. One-half of our shipping would lie idle at our wharves. We should lose our trade with the South, with all its immense profits. Our manufactories would be in utter ruins. Let the South adopt the free-trade system, or that of a tariff for revenue,4 and these results would likely follow. If protection be wholly withdrawn from our labor, it could not compete, with all the prejudices against it, with the labor of Europe. We should be driven from the market, and millions of our people would be compelled to go out of employment.5 (Emphasis added.)
The Northern economy was largely based on manufacturing for the South and shipping Southern cotton. See Complicity, How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of the Hartford Courant (New York: Ballantine Books, 2005).
Without the South, the North was dead economically.
Without the North, the South, with 100% control of King Cotton, would ascend to dominance in North America, and Lincoln knew it.
Southerners were already paying 85% of the taxes yet 75% of the tax money was being spent in the North. Secession meant turning all that money inward, back on the South.6
Southerners wanted desperately to manufacture for themselves to get out from under the North’s inferior goods that were greatly overpriced because of tariffs. In the meantime Southerners could buy from Europe at much lower prices than they had been paying.
The Morrill Tariff, passed by greedy, economically ignorant Northerners in the U.S. Congress after the Cotton States seceded, raised the rate for entry into the North to as high as 60%, as compared to the South’s low 10% tariff for the operation of a small federal government in a States Rights nation. This threatened to shift the entire Northern shipping industry into the South overnight as Northern ship captains beat a path to the South where free trade reigned and protective tariffs were unconstitutional.
The loss to the North of their captive Southern manufacturing market, together with the damage to their shipping industry by the Morrill Tariff, was a one-two punch they would not be able to recover from. That’s before even considering the loss of the 85% of tax revenue the South had been paying.
But the biggest thing driving Lincoln was the threat of European military aid. It would be for the South like French aid in the American Revolution was to the Colonists. The North would not be able to beat the South in that situation and, again, Lincoln knew it.
He needed to get his war started as quickly as he could so he could set up his blockade and chill European recognition of the South, because, with European recognition of Southern independence, it was game over for Lincoln.
So, Lincoln sent his hostile navy into the South to start the war, five different missions in April, 1861, to Fort Sumter in Charleston and Fort Pickens in Pensacola.7 The Charlestonians tried up to the last minute to avoid war and get Major Anderson to evacuate Fort Sumter but he did not feel like he could. He did, however, realize what Lincoln was doing and he answered a letter to Secretary of War Cameron and Lincoln stating:
. . . a movement made now when the South has been erroneously informed that none such will be attempted, would produce most disastrous results throughout our country. . . . We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in the war which I see is to be thus commenced. . . . (Emphasis added.)
Anderson sees that the war “is to be thus commenced” by Abraham Lincoln, who had to hurry up and get it started or soon the South with European trade and military alliances would be unbeatable.
Abraham Lincoln announced his blockade before the smoke had cleared from the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Just before the Fort Sumter drama, Lincoln had committed his act of war in Pensacola by secretly landing troops in Fort Pickens and breaking a long-time armistice with the Confederates down there.
Lincoln was determined to get his war started as noted by several Northern newspapers including the Providence (R.I.) Daily Post which wrote, April 13, 1861, the day after the commencement of the bombardment of Fort Sumter:
We are to have civil war, if at all, because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country. . . . Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor.
Providence (R.I.) Daily Post
April 13, 1861
It is immoral that Seidule completely ignores this overwhelming evidence in pushing his propaganda but that is the tactic of the left: Do like Goebbels said and repeat the big lie over and over, while ignoring everything else.
With everything Southerners had to gain economically by independence, it is absurd to say they seceded to protect slavery. That takes a lot of nerve anyway, since there were eight slave states in the Union when the guns of Fort Sumter sounded, soon to be increased by one with the admission of West Virginia.
There were only seven in the Confederacy.
On page 9, Seidule writes:
Eleven southern states seceded to protect and expand an African American slave labor system.
Again, Seidule is dead wrong.
As stated, there were eight slave states in the Union when the war started and only seven in the Confederacy. Four of the Union slave states had rejected secession at first: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina. And in those four states lived 52.4% of white Southerners, a majority.
But those states immediately seceded when Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to invade the South, and their reason was obviously federal coercion, not slavery. They believed, and rightfully so, that Lincoln’s call to invade peaceful fellow states was unconstitutional and unconscionable. There was nothing in the Constitution in 1861 that required or allowed Lincoln and the Federal Government to force a sovereign state to do anything much less stay in a union they did not want. The Federal Government had no right to invade an American state, kill its citizens, and destroy its property.
The most widely quoted phrase in the secession debate in the South in the year prior to states calling conventions and actually voting to secede came from the Declaration of Independence:
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Of the seven Cotton States that first seceded and formed the Confederacy, only four issued declarations of causes for their secession. In fact, those four declarations of causes were the only four issued by any of the 13 states represented in the Confederate Government.
Missouri and Kentucky were represented in the Confederate Government though they did not officially secede. They remained as two of the six Union slave states the entire war; and Kentucky had slavery well after the war, until the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery kicked in, in December, 1865.
The four declarations of causes do mention slavery along with numerous other grievances including economic, constitutional, and the hatred used by the North to rally its votes in the election of 1860.
That hatred was the primary reason for Southern secession. Northerners had supported murder and terrorism against the South. They had financed John Brown and sent him into the South to murder Southerners. He had hacked pro-South settlers to death in front of their families in Kansas.
Lincoln’s party also used Hinton Helper’s The Impending Crisis as a campaign document. They had hundreds of thousands of them printed and distributed coast to coast. It called for slave insurrection and the throats of Southerners to be cut in the night.
Would you allow people who hated your guts and were already at war with you to rule over you? What kind of stupid, cowardly people would do that? Certainly not Southerners.
But the simplistic Seidule characterizes Southern secession like the fake news media characterizes those who have serious concerns about the integrity of the 2020 election. Seidule writes:
Unwilling to accept the results of a fair, democratic election, they illegally seized U. S. territory, violently.
The truth of the 2020 election will come out eventually but there are certainly an enormous number of legitimate concerns that call into account Seidule’s description of a “fair, democratic election” in 2020. The Texas law suit which was joined by 20 other states, lays out legion legitimate issues of corruption and constitutional violations that have never been adjudicated by a court. The Navarro Report also goes into great detail. Anybody with a brain knows that when mail in voting jumps from 5% to 35% at the same time that signature verification standards are lowered or dropped, it is a formula for disaster.
For over a year, Southerners debated seceding from the Union. After all, five times in U.S. history Northerners had threatened to secede from the Union so nobody questioned the right of secession, not even Horace Greeley, until he realize Southern secession would affect his money. Then he wanted war like the rest of them. Before that, he believe “Let our erring sisters go” and he editorialized in favor of the right of secession.
Three states had formally reserved the right of secession before acceding to the Constitution. They were New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Because all the other states accepted the reserved right of secession of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, those states had it too, because all the states entered the Union as equals with the exact same rights.
The Stetson Law Review, a publication of the Stetson University College of Law, did a good article on the right of secession entitled “The Foundations and Meaning of Secession” by H. Newcomb Morse. He writes that the War Between the States did not prove that secession was illegal because:
[M]any incidents both preceding and following the War support the proposition that the Southern States did have the right to secede from the Union. Instances of nullification prior to the War Between the States, contingencies under which certain states acceded to the Union, and the fact that the Southern States were made to surrender the right to secession all affirm the existence of a right to secede . . .8
He adds that the Constitution’s “failure to forbid secession” and amendments dealing with secession that were proposed in Congress as Southern states were seceding strengthened his argument that:
[T]he Southern States had an absolute right to secede from the Union prior to the War Between the States.9
Of course they did.
How can you believe in the Declaration of Independence and governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed and not believe a people can leave a government that has become tyrannical and oppressive. That was the essence of the Revolutionary War and the foundation of our country.
Northern hate, not unlike the hate we have in America today, drove the South from the Union, that and supporting terrorists and murderers like John Brown and encouraging mass murder in the South like Republicans did with Hinton Helper’s book.
The one thing about American history that you can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt is that the North did not go to war to end slavery. They went to war because they faced economic annihilation when the Southern States seceded and took their captive manufacturing market and their tariff revenue with them.
The Corwin Amendment which passed the Northern Congress and was ratified by several states would have left black people in slavery forever, even beyond the reach of Congress. That was the true feeling of the North and Abraham Lincoln in 1861 and it proves the North’s motive was not to end slavery. And there is much much more irrefutable proof.
A near-unanimous resolution entitled the War Aims Resolution established early-on what the North was fighting for. It was passed by the Northern Congress in July, 1861, three months after the bombardment of Fort Sumter:
. . . That this war is not waged upon our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or institutions [slavery] of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution [which allowed and protected slavery], and to preserve the Union. . . .10
It is unquestionable and irrefutable that the North did not go to war to end slavery.
They went to war because they wanted to dominate the country economically. Northern wealth and power were all dependent on the Union. That’s why Lincoln said over and over it was about preserving the Union, not ending slavery.
That puts Seidule’s Union Army in a pretty bad light. Lincoln’s troops were down here in the South. Southern troops were not up there in the North menacing any Northern city.
Why didn’t Lincoln just remove his troops who were on sovereign South Carolina and Florida soil? If he had done that there would have been no war, no 750,000 deaths and over a million maimed.
The hateful Seidule argued against memorializing West Point graduates who fought for the Confederacy. He writes:
I believed we should exclude them. After all, they died fighting against the United States. I argued stridently that West Point should honor only those who fought for the Constitution we swear to support and defend. West Point’s mottos of “Duty, Honor, Country” (especially country) would seem to argue forcefully for exclusion of those dedicated to the country’s destruction.11
Southerners were certainly not dedicated to the destruction of the Union. No Confederate EVER said any such absurdity. The United States could have easily continued into the future as a major power on this earth but with just a few less states.
Seidule talks about support of the Constitution but Northern violations of the Constitution are one of the many legitimate grievances Southerners had and so stated many times. Many Northerners believed there was a higher power than the U.S. Constitution they should adhere to (and it always just happened to increase their political power).
Other Northerners like William Lloyd Garrison believed the Constitution was a “covenant with death” and “an agreement with Hell.”
William H. Seward, Sr., Lincoln’s secretary of state, asserted in 1850 that “[…] there is a Higher Law than the Constitution.”
None of these self-righteous Northerners in the antebellum era ever proposed a plan to end slavery such as they had used in the North with compensated, gradual emancipation. That is how all nations ended slavery and it would have been easy to do but Northerners were not about to spend their hard-earned sweatshop money to free the slaves in the South who would then go North and be job competition.
Lincoln did talk about it time to time but Lincoln’s primary idea for dealing with slavery was to send black people back to Africa or into a place where they could survive. This was Lincoln’s plan his entire life. See Colonization after Emancipation, Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement by Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2011).
In Chapter 7, page 238, Seidule writes:
Lee acknowledged defeat but felt neither he nor the white South had done anything wrong. In his famous General Orders No. 9, Lee bid his soldiers farewell. He stated his version of what the war meant and why it ended, initiating the Lost Cause myth. The Army of Northern Virginia “succumbed to overwhelming numbers and resources,” a kind of code criticizing the immigrant army of the United States supported by unsavory businessmen and ruthless politicians.
To prove how utterly disingenuous Seidule is, below is Gen. Lee’s General Orders, No. 9. Compare what Lee actually said with what Seidule wrote above. See if you can find “a kind of code criticizing the immigrant army of the United States supported by unsavory businessmen and ruthless politicians” in Gen. Lee’s short, heartfelt address. This, alone, proves what a fraud Seidule’s entire book is.
General Orders, No. 9
Robert E. Lee’s Farewell Address to
The Army of Northern Virginia
Hd. Qrs. Army of N. Va.
After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources.
I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.
By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
R.E. Lee, Genl.12
Lee was almost always outnumbered and outgunned.
Grant himself admitted this when he wrote Secretary of War Edwin Stanton July 22, 1865 to explain how he won the war:
The resources of the enemy, and his numerical strength, were far inferior to ours. . . I therefore determined . . . to hammer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to him but . . . submission. . . “13
The numbers showing the Union advantage over Lee are startling. Here’s one example. Phil Leigh writes:
Grant began his forty-day campaign with an approximate two-to-one numerical advantage. He had 124,000 troops compared to 66,000 for Lee. At the end, Grant had suffered 55,000 casualties, which was also about twice those of Lee. Losses for the two sides during the battles at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor correspond closely to the federal disasters at Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, and Fredericksburg.14
The North had four times the white population of the South. While slaves helped the Southern economy, and many served as Confederate soldiers, they were not a big source of manpower.
The North had a functioning government, an army, navy, merchant marine, sound financial system. They had a pipeline to the retched refuse of the world who came here often with only the shirts on their backs to find the Union Army recruiter with bonuses in hand, food and clothing.
Over 25% of the Union Army was foreign born but as James McPherson points out, over 30% of the North was foreign born. The North was a wild busting-at-the-seams society. The scenes in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York are historically accurate.
Some speculate that because of the wildness caused by massive immigration during the 1850s that the North would have had a revolution if not for the western lands where they could send their surplus population. “Go west, young man, and grow up with the country!” said Horace Greeley.
So Lincoln starting a war knowing he had four times the white population of the South plus unlimited numbers of people verses the South’s impossibility of adding more people because of the Union blockade, is despicable but understandable. The Republican Party was new, and what is better than a war to give it power, money and solidify it in the political life of a nation.
Lincoln certainly figured it would be a short war but he found otherwise, that a people fighting for independence will fight until there are oceans of blood covering their sacred soil, and until their society is completely destroyed.
The Northern manufacturing for armaments, ammunition, guns and uniforms was unlimited while it was non-existent in the South. Seidule’s Union soldiers were always well-fed and had the latest weaponry but Confederates were always hungry, cold and often barefoot.
There were 19 marine engine factories in the North. There were zero in the South.
Northern society throughout the war barely noticed a difference in their day to day lives while Southerners suffered at the hands of Seidule’s barbaric animals in the South raping, pillaging, murdering. All of that did go on and has been well-documented, as in every war. The great British historian, Antony Beevor, estimates that 2,000,000 German women were raped by the Russian army at the end of World War II as it conquered Germany. Union soldiers raping black women is especially documented in the Official Records.
Gen. Lee often could not do things on the battlefield because he did not have the resources. That was never a problem for the North.
The Federal ration of grain for their horses was ten pounds a day per horse. Lee wrote this to President Davis August 24, 1863:
Nothing prevents my advancing now [against Mead] but the fear of killing our artillery horses. They are a much reduced, and the hot weather and scarce forage keeps them so. The cavalry also suffer and I fear to set them at work. Some days we get a pound of corn per horse and some days more; some none. Our limit is five per day per horse. You can judge of our prospects. . . . Everything is being done by me that can be to recruit the horses. I have been obliged to diminish the number of guns in the artillery, and fear I shall have to lose more.15
The South faced the same problem with railroads. Of the 30,000-plus miles that existed nationwide in 1861, 70% was in the North. There were 21,300 miles of track in the North and Midwest with 45,000 miles of telegraph wire while in the South there was only 9,022 miles with 5,000 miles of telegraph wire. The South had a much larger territory to cover with much smaller resources.16
For more than a year before the end came the railroads were in such a wretched condition that a complete breakdown seemed always imminent. As the tracks wore out on the main lines they were replenished by despoiling the branch lines; but while the expedient of feeding the weak roads to the more important afforded the latter some temporary sustenance, it seriously weakened the armies, since it steadily reduced the area from which supplies could be drawn.17
So, again, Gen. Lee’s “overwhelming resources” of the North is correct and Seidule is wrong. The Lost Cause Myth is not a myth. It is simply the Southern view of what happened, and it is both accurate and truthful.
On the other hand, the Righteous Cause Myth of the North is truly a myth — no, not myth, LIE. Their “righteous cause” was their money, power, and the lust to rule the country.
Lysander Spooner, who was an abolitionist in Massachusetts, agreed:
On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate the slaves, but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution, to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.
The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this: That men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them traitors and criminals.18
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, a West Point graduate and true American hero, is a much better representative of West Point and the United States Army than the virtue-signaling “please, academia, like me!” of Ty Seidule. Eisenhower is a much better judge of honor and character.
Gen. Eisenhower, 1st Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, in World War II, later president of the United States for eight years, had a picture of Gen. Robert E. Lee on his wall in the White House his entire time there.
Like President John F. Kennedy, Eisenhower had great respect for Gen. Lee and his cause, and he appreciated Lee’s efforts to bind up the nation’s wounds after our bloodiest war.
On August 1, 1960, a New York dentist, Dr. Leon W. Scott, wrote an angry letter to President Eisenhower excoriating him for having that picture of Lee in his White House office.
Scott wrote: “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.”19
President Eisenhower wrote back on the 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.
Seidule said people who use “War Between the States” as Gen. Eisenhower did, as I do, and as millions of others do, don’t believe in equality; so I guess, yet again, Seidule is wrong.