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tv   [untitled]    April 5, 2012 1:30am-2:00am EDT

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bob crick insists the army of north virginia stood its ground in the face of vastly superior numbers and that this was the dumbest thing that anybody -- and robert e. lee included -- could ever have done. i think he stayed put on the 17th because he thought he could win. he thought he could fight mcclellan on the defensive. whatever. he stayed put on the 18th all but daring mcclellan to renew the offensive. and then finally, barely, was able to get across butler's ford and back across the potomac into virginia. and then, of course, he fought on december 13th at fredericksburg. the plain between fredericksburg and crossed a significant
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drainage ditch, then the attacking ranks had to cross more open ground to confront a sunken road which formed a perfect four-foot trench for confederate infantry. behind the sunken road, marie's height rose precipitously studded with artillery and more infantry. the assault disintegrated into murder. lee saw the enemy founder and saw his own men leap from their cover and chase their fleeing foes. it is well that war is so terrible he said we should grow too fond of it. again and again the federals charged and each time they died and recoiled. general, lee said to longstreet, who was by his side, they are massing very heavily and will break your line, i'm afraid. general, longstreet responded, if you put every man now on the other side of the potomac on that field to approach me over the same line and give me plenty of ammunition, i will kill them
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all before they reach me. and he did. this is what lee did in 1862. he wrote in what would qualify as a christmas letter to his wife, mary, but what a cruel thing is war to separate and destroy families and friends and mar the purist joy and happiness god has granted us in this world. to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. i pray that on this day when peace and goodwill are preached to all mankind, that better thoughts will fill our hearts, fill the hearts of our enemy and turn them to peace. the confusion that now exists in their council will thus result
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in good. we all know that somebody who we all thought would get nominated today proclaimed emancipation, preliminarily -- in a preliminary fashion. on september 22nd, 1862, and just passed our -- or john koskie's deadline january 1 the action document that proclaimed slaves in rebel hands are now free, and we will accept african-americans in the united states army. we all know that lincoln did that. but as lincoln passed and the new year approached, lincoln
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made good on his promise. but before and after lincoln's stroke, lee had professed his abhorrence of slavery. as we know ever in the abstract and always conditioned by his conviction that his racial assumptions, racist assumptions really, that african-americans occupied some evolutionary level below that of white people, but in this instance irony attends the fact that lee himself became an emancipator and issued his own liberating proclamation three days before lincoln in 1862. the objects of lincoln's -- of lee's proclamation were the slaves once owned by george washington park custsa who was lee's father-in-law. in accord with his
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father-in-law's will, january 9th, 1862, lee the executor of the estate did, quote, emancipate and forever set free from slavery, unquote, the slaves at arlington, the white house plantation, which was one on the york river, and romancote, which is in king william county on the monkey river, as well as the slaves that lee had hired out in other places, that is, rented out, as well as the relative few slaves that lee had owned and had as hired out in the estate of park custus. lee's deed of emancipation lilesed ealiles listed each person by name, and lee was very, very careful to get all those names right, at
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least 170 people. and he meticulous searched his memory and record and queried others in the family to make sure he missed no one. he was a limited emancipator. the custus will established a five-year time period within which his executor had to act to free his slaves. he technically extended that period for a couple of months because custus died in october of 1857. and if you do the math, october of 1862 is the cutoff date, and lee was a couple of months late, this is december. like lincoln, who emancenated only slaves in rebel regions over which he had no immediate control, lee freed many slaves over which he had no control. most of the arlington slaves,
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for example, were already free by virtue of union occupation. but he said those who have been carried away, he wrote, i hope are free and happy. and he wished them well. okay. my notes say strong close. why was lee the most influential person in 1862? well, he drafted the draft law, which was one of the most consequential pieces of legislation i think ever enacted on this continent, and significantly created an internal revolution within the confederate states of america. he was influential because of his commitment to the offensive defense and the destruction of an enemy, and his belief that he
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would have to fight a climatic battle of annihilation sooner rather than later and jefferson davis could not stand in the way and lee worked to make sure he did not by cajoling davis. he saved richmond, "monitor" armada on may 15th and then he came to command on june 1st. this person who had commanded maybe 200 troops all of a sudden commands 92,000, fought for seven days second manassas, or second bull run, sharpsburg/antietam, and then fredericksburg. i think he saved the confederacy. he transformed war and warfare. without robert e. lee, factor him out of the equation, and the war was over in the summer of 1862.
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despite all of his best efforts, mcclellan would have captured richmond. and i think lee was an effective emancipator. about lee's personality and personhood, i close with stuff that somebody will get. lee once wrote his daughter that i am always wanting something, i am always missing something, which is certainly true. robert lee sought something indeed. i'm always wanting something, he decreed, but he tried really hard like the rolling stones' bard and found you get what you need. thank you very much.
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>> okay. ladies and gentlemen, we're passing out the ballots now. and emery's going to take a couple of questions. while he does that, if you can record your vote, then at the end of his questions, we'll take a quick break and turn in your ballots as you walk out the door. this is going to be a quick break for us to count the ballots, and then you can come back in to hear the results. thank you. >> are there questions? let's see. wherever robert e. lee is on the ballot, that's where you check. anybody need a pen or a pencil or anything? i've tried to stack the deck. i brought -- i brought my brother-in-law, judge tolliver.
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fran is back there with both hands at work. are there any questions? >> does anyone have any questions? i know voting has your attention. >> just check robert e. lee or vote for robert e. lee and then ask -- yes, sir? oh, you need a ballot. >> if you don't have more questions i'm going to read more limericks. yes, sir? >> the line of reasoning that you introduced about lee being a great e mans parent because he freed the league, and i wonder what you think of the argument
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that he was an inadvertent e man si pater with causing this great mound of victory over the summer and forces lincoln's hand into launching the emancipation proclamation. by doing that, could you also say lee is an inadvertent emancipat o tshg emancipator. >> lincoln said that everything seemed to be going badly about the war and this was in june when he started going to the war office and asked for paper from the clerk and drafting something that the clerk wondered what he was drafting and lincoln said, everything seemed to be going badly and throughout that summer of '62 and he knew that he had to -- he had considerable
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pressure from that frederick douglas fellow and others to do something about race and african-americans and the potential of a biracial society, and that's at issue because in doing emancipation, lincoln abandons the notion of colonization. we're not going to send africans, african-americans to nicaragua. there are santa a niftas down there and we're in trouble. we're not doing to send them anywhere. we'll accommodate them right here and they are going to be american citizens and civil rights and liberties. that does not come from a limited war and it's lee that provoke
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provokes, the total war to prevent emancipation. thank you for pointing that out. >> we heard from an earlier speaker that douglas wondered who his father might have been. what is your opinion on lee's search after the war and a reconciliation with his relationship with his father? did he have any questions in terms about -- >> what was it that lee had done? >> great question. i think to some degree lee's whole life, and i've written about this, is a search for his father and lee is still trying to figure that out. it's interesting, because his father left home whenly was -- what? 6? he died when lee was 12 or 13
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and he left home because he was one step ahead of his creditors. he was genuine, a light cavalry commander of distinction. he'd been -- he'd served in the united states house of representatives. he coined the term, first in peace about george washington. he reveered washington. he made lee, the family into federalists, later wigs. lee never knew his father, really, and always tried to figure his father out and even after the war, lee did a new introduction to his father's reminiscences of the revolution
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and lee repeated all of the old myths about all he moved to alexandria to further the education of his children. no. he moved to alexandria because he didn't know stratford anymore and he was trying to recoup his financial reverses and convince somebody else to invest in something silly. anyway, lee spent much of his life trying to figure out who his father was and in some ways never came at peace with that, and i think he finally figured out that he was going to have to figure out sort of not be his own father, but accommodate for the absence of a father just like he accommodated for the absence of many other things. yes, sir?
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[ inaudible ] >> he had another son called black horse lee. he inherited what was left of the plantation at the house and he was ordered to stay with friends because she had nowhere to go, but we don't hear much about -- >> we hear as much as we need to. black horse herring, you know, i took a father/son group from stratford because i thought people from the northwest ought to see a plantation and so when he took him to stratford, and i had to embarrass the guy and ask
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about black horse herring because if you're following stratford, what happened to it after light horse herring left, it became by his father's will the property of his son who was another harry lee and who was there and -- this might be too long a story, but they had a child who fell from some steps and died and his wife became inconsolable and took some consoling in drugs and in the process -- but before that and a jolly party atmosphere there for stratford so the wife's sister came and lived with them.
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she was an orphan and so she went there and she and light horse harry had a relationship that may not have resulted in a child and she finally went to the court and said she wanted to get out from under light horse harry as her guardian because he's wasting that money and it caused a scandal and provoked harry to leave. he went to the hermitage, actually and worked for jackson's, the federalist working for andrew jackson, the crazy populist democrat, but he'll do that, you know. he'll go that far and eventually
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he'll go to france and have a biography of napoleon and there he died but his wife became a very pitiful figure, pretty dependent upon drugs and things and died a pauper, but lee and his other brother charles carter, carter lee spent a lot of times trying to figure out what they could possibly do for their mother. they ended up sending her money, but it was never enough and that was black horse harry, and he was the one who had literally lost the farm. it was sold and eventually came to be betsy mccarty who was the
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sister of black horse harry's wife and she eventually was -- she, for 50 years, was the mistress of stratford. >> thank you so much. [ applause ] >> folks, we are madly counting the ballots in the back. we will give the television audience just a few minutes with emory. rather than us taking a break, by the time everybody gets up and walks out and walks back in, why don't you talk amongst yourselves for just a few minutes.
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>> live on american history tv on c-span3. as you may have heard the folks at the museum of the confederacy counting the votes on who will be chosen as person of the year 1862. the audience and viewers here on american history tv heard from five historians today. the most recent you heard from emory thomas who nominated robert e. lee. here are the nominations, stonewall jackson, nominated by robert cribbing who was the chief historian at fredericksburg.
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david blight for the yale center of the study of slavery resistance and abolition nominated frederick douglass. david fair gut, and the former of choo of military history for the army john mount castle and robert e. lee nominated by professor thomas and we'll talk to him in a moment. in case you missed any of today's event we'll show the entire program beginning at 6:00 p.m. eastern this afternoon and at 1:00 a.m. on sunday morning. we'll open up the phone lines and we'll have them open for your calls while they count the votes. here are the numbers for the eastern and central time zones. the number is 202-585-3885 and 202585-3886. we'll take your calls until they announce the winner. >> been getting a lot of tweets as well at
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our handle is @c-spanhistory just in case you want to favor that. the hash tag today is person of the year 1862. #poty1862. just want to read one tweet before we go back to professor thomas. here's one from wilhelm ii. he's not worthy of conversation. i nominate ben butler and that from our twitter folks. >> we'll go to professor thomas at the library of virginia who is standing by to take some of your calls and question. professor thomas, i do want to start with a question by one of our facebook friends. she'd like to hear professor thomas' opinion about lincoln racing an army and whether he feels lee had any inside information prior to lincoln's assassination.
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>> okay. i don't think lee or anybody had any idea about a conspiracy for lincoln's assassination. somehow i think he did that all by his lonesome and did it with a few others, who knows? and they came out this year, and lincoln raising an armia, genst his own people. and they were the other people and thus he was. >> raising an army to save his nation and it was his focus in the beginning. >> it was in the united states. we had a couple of folks waiting
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on the phones before we hear the results of the vote in richmond. allen is in cincinnati for emory thomas. hi there. >> hello. i wanted to get your view on the possible accusation of robert e. lee being a racist as described by elizabeth pryor in her book reading the man and general lee is often regarded as many people being a southern racist whereas president abraham lincoln obviously had racist views, but is generally guided by history as being forgiven for his race of the views, and i wanted to get your perspective as to whether one or the other was more or less a racist than the other and whether they both reflected the feelings of their times.
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>> i think they both reflected the feelings of their time which were pretty darn racist. lincoln, however, had the capacity to grow. we believe in emancipated colonization and sending african-americans somewhere else, perhaps to latin america, nicaragua or perhaps to west africa. he hoped that he wouldn't have to confront a biracial society. i think he grew and realized that the biracial society had to work and he, before the end of the war and before the end of his life was counseling people in places like louisiana to make sure that african-americans, the
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new friedman had full civil rights and suffrage voting for anyone observed in the army and people to a certain educational standard. now about lee. lee had -- i think in a way a social darwinist, believing that human society is sort of a pyramid and upscale white folks like himself were at the top and african-americans were somewhere down the scale. not as low as native americans, perhaps and mexicans were in there somewhere, but lee had racial assumptions, but was -- much of this was


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