Robert E. Lee, white supremacist hero of the Confederate Heritage movement

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Robert E. Lee is getting a lot of attention right now, especially in Charlottesville Virginia. Some people love him, and some people hate him. To the Confederate Heritage movement, Lee is a God. They worship at the altar of Lee. So why is Lee so special to them? It is because he embodies everything they believe and stand for. Take for instance this old chestnut:

“My name is Wesley Norris; I was born a slave on the plantation of George Parke Custis; after the death of Mr. Custis, Gen. Lee, who had been made executor of the estate, assumed control of the slaves, in number about seventy; it was the general impression among the slaves of Mr. Custis that on his death they should be forever free; in fact this statement had been made to them by Mr. C. years before; at his death we were informed by Gen. Lee that by the conditions of the will we must remain slaves for five years; I remained with Gen. Lee for about seventeen months, when my sister Mary, a cousin of ours, and I determined to run away, which we did in the year 1859; we had already reached Westminster, in Maryland, on our way to the North, when we were apprehended and thrown into prison, and Gen. Lee notified of our arrest; we remained in prison fifteen days, when we were sent back to Arlington; we were immediately taken before Gen. Lee, who demanded the reason why we ran away; we frankly told him that we considered ourselves free; he then told us he would teach us a lesson we never would forget; he then ordered us to the barn, where, in his presence, we were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty; we were accordingly stripped to the skin by the overseer, who, however, had sufficient humanity to decline whipping us; accordingly Dick Williams, a county constable, was called in, who gave us the number of lashes ordered; Gen. Lee, in the meantime, stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well, an injunction which he did not fail to heed; not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done. After this my cousin and myself were sent to Hanover Court-House jail, my sister being sent to Richmond to an agent to be hired; we remained in jail about a week, when we were sent to Nelson county, where we were hired out by Gen. Lee’s agent to work on the Orange and Alexander railroad; we remained thus employed for about seven months, and were then sent to Alabama, and put to work on what is known as the Northeastern railroad; in January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom; I have nothing further to say; what I have stated is true in every particular, and I can at any time bring at least a dozen witnesses, both white and black, to substantiate my statements: I am at present employed by the Government; and am at work in the National Cemetary on Arlington Heights, where I can be found by those who desire further particulars; my sister referred to is at present employed by the French Minister at Washington, and will confirm my statement.”

“Robert E. Lee: His Brutality to His Slaves” in National Anti-Slavery Standard Vol. XXVI.
No. 49 (April 14, 1866). Whole No. 1,349. page 4. (Image courtesy of

Now doesn't that sound wonderful?

(Image courtesy of Occidental Dissent)

What a swell guy.

(Image courtesy of Occidental Dissent)

Here are a couple of General Lee's most prized possessions.

(Image courtesy of Yahoo News)

(Image courtesy of the Daily Mail)

Restoring the honor!


  1. Wesley Norris interview, National Anti-Slavery Standard, April 14, 1866-
    " January, 1863, we were sent to Richmond, from which place I finally made my escape through the rebel lines to freedom."

    Wesley Norris statement to General Meade, September 6, 1863-
    "...[Norris] states that he left Richmond on Friday last, with a pass from General Custis Lee, to go through our lines via Culpeper."
    (starts at bottom of page-);cc=moawar;q1=wesley;q2=norris;op2=near;op3=near;rgn=full%20text;amt2=40;amt3=40;idno=waro0049;didno=waro0049;view=image;seq=0160

    Of course, if Norris had said "the Lees gave me a pass" in 1866 that wouldn't serve to demonize Lee.

    I found out that the Nat'l Anti-Slavery Standard was known for smearing those they didn't like. U.S. Grant included in that number.

    1. Yes, this was an abolitionist paper, and yes, they did likely have a bias. If you read Elizabeth Brown Pryor's book on Lee, "Reading the Man", she points this out, but she also says that all the facts surrounding this incident check out, the only dubious aspect is Lee's direct involvement with the whipping. Whether or not Lee personally whipped the slaves may or may not be true, but he was mighty angry that they ran away and they had to be punished for that, right? I mean, just who in the hell do they think they are trying to be free? Be all that as it may, Lee is worshipped as a God (which he's not).

    2. “WESLEY NORRIS’S testament was given to an antislavery newspaper in 1866 and is one of several accounts of this incident. The story created some uncomfortable negative publicity for Robert E. Lee when it first surfaced in 1859 and continued to haunt him after the war. Its veracity has been questioned by generations of Lee aficionados, and we might be tempted to dismiss it as the exaggerated ranting of a bitter ex-slave. Except for one thing: all of its facts are verifiable.”

      Excerpt From: Elizabeth Brown Pryor. “Reading the Man.” Kensington, 2007. iBooks.
      This material may be protected by copyright.

      Check out this book on the iBooks Store:

    3. Pryor makes great leaps and bounds to sell the whipping story.

      Reading the Man, p.272:

      "There seems to be no obvious reason that Norris's description of his treatment, corroborated by five different witnesses..."

      Norris claims to have been whipped. Who are the other four witnesses? (Save you some time- there are no other witnesses.)

      "...and substantiated by Lee's own records, should be discounted."

      The only thing substantiated by Lee's records is that he paid to have the Norris slaves captured and returned to Virginia. Pryor implies that the slave-catchers were paid for something "extra" but uses phony reasoning.

      She continues:

      "Lee never completely denounced the story..."

      and in the same paragraph quotes Lee as saying: "There is not a word of truth in it..."

      That sounds complete to me...

    4. An assumption: his sister (definitely by his account), their cousin, Mr. Gwin and Tricky Dicky Williams. That makes four. Are those the four he's referring to? I don't know, but according to his account those four were all present and would have witnessed/experienced it firsthand. I'd have to do more research on it to say for sure, but then again, it's not my claim. All I did was point out the former slaves account of events. Apparently they were multiple versions of the story.

    5. "An assumption: his sister (definitely by his account), their cousin, Mr. Gwin and Tricky Dicky Williams. That makes four."

      Pryor says: "...corroborated by five different witnesses..."

      Maybe I'm alone...but my idea of witness is someone who makes a verbal or written statement attesting to some event. We have the Norris statement, but where are the corroborating statements of the four other witnesses?

    6. No, I agree with that. I'll see if I can find an email for her and ask her myself.

    7. Well, there goes that. She's deceased. I guess I'm on my own on that one. I'll see what I can scare up.


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