“[Reynolds] Price hung a portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, photographed a week before Lee died, almost at floor level in his office, where he could see it every time he rolled by. Lee’s portrait made Reynolds think of King Lear and stimulated both a dream and the long poem ‘The Dream of Lee'(1979).”
— From “Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price” by Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor (2017)
In his poem Price has driven Lee from Lexington, Va., to Duke, where he will conclude his visit with a speech to students: “He faces his crowd and says ‘I shall read from my poems tonight.’ Slightly chilled, I think ‘The Poems of Lee’ — is there any such book? Before I decide, the great voice starts — ‘First a poem I composed two days ago for my friend Mr. Price’…. ”
“Now that New Orleans has toppled its statue of Robert E. Lee, Asheville should take a hard look at the man we honor in our city’s most prominent public space….
“[The name of] Zeb Vance, North Carolina’s Civil War governor, is carved into the granite obelisk rising above Pack Square….
“Bringing down the monument has symbolic appeal, but it would be politically difficult and may not be necessary. After all, it is not a statue of a man but a simple spire that could be rededicated to a new cause.
“For a start, the city could place, near the monument, a historical marker that gives an unflinching account of Zeb Vance’s life and legacy. Another plaque detailing the city’s African-American heritage could be added as well.
“And then I’d propose that the city rename the obelisk.
“With the simple addition of two letters, the Vance Monument could become the Advance Monument….”
— From “The Advance Monument: A proposal for Asheville’s Vance problem” by Mark Essig in the Asheville Citizen-Times (June 3)
This wouldn’t be the first time Vance’s name had become part of an Advance.
On this day in 1863: Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederacy’s master tactician, dies of pneumonia, eight days after being mistakenly shot by troops from the 18th N.C. regiment.
He was shot at nightfall while scouting ahead of the line near Chancellorsville, Va. His men mistook him for the enemy. As he lay wounded, doctors amputated his maimed arm. “He has lost his left arm,” says Robert E. Lee, “but I have lost my right arm.”
“In the late ’60s, I had a high-school English teacher who was, shall we say, getting on in years, and she kept paintings of [Robert E.] Lee and Stonewall Jackson hanging on the wall of her classroom. What’s interesting about this is that the high school where she taught [R. J. Reynolds High in Winston-Salem] was the most successfully integrated institution I have ever known. Because the high school was located in the geographical center of the city, the student body was made up of black and white, rich and poor and middle-class kids. Because the Methodist orphanage was located across the road from the school, we even had orphans.
“It was a true cross section of society, but somehow everyone co-existed amicably, or the students did, at least. The administration and much of the faculty, especially the older teachers, seemed to view integration more grudgingly, as though it were a trick played on them. Historically speaking, of course, their behavior was unexceptional.
“Until the ’60s, our city had been two societies, one black and one white. I grew up with color-coded water fountains, a black balcony at the movie theater, and neighborhoods clearly segregated by race. African-Americans had their own cab and bus services. Before school integration, the only major social event in which both blacks and whites participated equally was the city’s Christmas parade, and even then there was no mingling. Black high school bands marched separately from white school bands.
“The Civil Rights movement changed a lot of that, thanks to the guts and determination of people like Dr. King. I seriously doubt that any teacher in any school in my hometown today has a picture of Robert E. Lee on the wall of her classroom.
“That said, I’m sure there are still teachers who would put up a portrait of Lee if they thought they could get away with it….”
— From “On MLK Day, Two Versions Of The South Collide” by Malcolm Jones at the Daily Beast (Jan. 19)
“In 1943 Roosevelt asked Jonathan Daniels to serve as minister to New Zealand, [but] Senator Josiah W. Bailey blocked his appointment. A foe of Daniels in state politics, Bailey did not like Daniels’s reference to Robert E. Lee’s army as ‘largely composed of white men who were not only slaveless but almost as degraded as colored men by slavery.’
“He also took exception to Daniels’ description of Senator Robert Rice Reynolds as ‘a demagogue who is a clown, not a master’ and of himself as a ‘demagogue’ and ‘sycophant.’ ”
— From “Jonathan Daniels and Race Relations: The Evolution of a Southern Liberal” by Charles W. Eagles (1982)
“The House Ways and Means Committee was skeptical of [FDR’s] revenue proposals.
“Its legendary chairman, Robert Lee ‘Muley’ Doughton [of] North Carolina had been a central figure in passage of the Social Security Act and other New Deal tax legislation. But Doughton foremost was a Southerner. He had been born during the Civil War, and his father, a captain under Robert E. Lee, named his son after the general.
“He also was a fiscal conservative who had earned his nickname for ‘a backwoods stubbornness that cloaked a shrewd ability to compromise’….
“He often reminded colleagues that ‘the science of levying and collecting taxes is the science of getting the most feathers with the least squawking of the geese.’ ”
–– From “The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars from the Revolution to the War on Terror” by Robert D. Hormats (2007)
— Why are Robert E. Lee‘s descendants playing keep-away with historians?
— Four towns remember their minor league pasts, while one longs for a minor league future.
— After Appomattox, a scourge of suicide, divorce and debt.
— Montford Point Marines look for recognition given Tuskegee Airmen.
— “Seven Wonders of Charlotte” inexplicably omits visitor-vexing intersection.
“When President Eisenhower and Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery jocularly agreed that Generals Lee and Meade should have been ‘sacked’ for their blunders at Gettysburg, they committed themselves irrevocably to battle….
” ‘President Eisenhower,’ sputtered the Shelby, N.C. Star, ‘must have lost his mind.’
“[But] the Raleigh, N.C. News and Observer argued that Lee’s own view of his performance at Gettysburg was at variance with the ‘Southern Oratory’ used to defend it…. Lee himself had conceded afterwards: ‘It is I who have lost this fight.’
“It was, as North Carolina’s Durham Herald noted, ‘one of those tempests in a teapot in which Americans delight to engage. It gives them a chance to argue without having to decide, to debate without some vital result depending on the outcome.’ ”
— From Time magazine, May 27, 1957
Here’s a more recent view of Lee and Ike.