Jacki Lyden in for Tom Ashbrook
The myths and legend around Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and why he’s still admired by many on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.
Robert E. Lee unquestionably became an American Icon after the Civil war was over.
President Ulysses S. Grant lauded him, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said he was “unsullied as he read the pages of history.”
But as the nation stares hard at the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States has the hagiography of some of the battlefield commanders obscured the cause of the war: human bondage?
This hour On Point: Robert E. Lee Revisited.
James C. Cobb, distinguished Research Professor at the University of Georgia and author of “Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity.” His article, titled “How Did Robert E. Lee Become an Icon?” appears in the current issues of Humanities Magazine.
From The Reading List:
- Humanities: “Postbellum white southerners borrowed the term “Lost Cause” from Sir Walter Scott’s romantic depiction of the failed struggle for Scottish independence in 1746. For them, however, memorializing their recent and bitter defeat at the hands of the Yankees was no mere flight into escapist fantasy. Rather, it was part of a willful strategy, aimed at both restoring white supremacy in the South and regaining the economic and political power needed to insulate white southerners from any future northern interference in their racial affairs.”