A Defense of Lee

Three years ago, Woke General Ty Seidule of West Point addressed the students and faculty at Washington and Lee University on the life and character of Robert E. Lee. He aimed to tarnish Lee’s reputation and primacy at the institution and insisted that Lee’s name and legacy be removed from the campus. Some responded that Seidule was “speaking truth to power.” After all, Seidule was graduated from Washington and Lee in 1984 and in his story spent years defending Lee, but after he learned the “truth” about Lee, he could no longer do so in good conscience.

Seidule followed up with a book titled Robert E. Lee and Me to further explore his claims of Lee’s status as a “traitor,” the “white supremacist” history of West Point and Washington and Lee, and the need to eradicate the Confederacy from American memory. According to Seidule, the Confederacy and the South are the drag on good progressive ideals. As a military man who wraps his body in the United States flag on a regular basis, Confederate “traitors” can no longer be tolerated in civil society.

Historians Neely Young and Al Eckes review Seidule’s book and expose the woke general’s work as being little more than a polemic based on his opinion (Seidule’s chapters all begin with “My”) and light on scholarship. Seidule’s “research” is almost entirely centered on secondary sources, particularly his chapter on Lee the man, which is based on the 2007 book Reading the Man by Elizabeth Brown Pryor. Seidule calls Pryor the “best” historian on Robert E. Lee, a laughable assertion at best, but what can anyone expect from a man with a political axe to grind?

Neely Young is a 1966 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington and Lee University and holds a Ph.D in American History from Emory University. He is the author of Ripe for Emancipation and has taught at both the secondary and college level.

Al Eckes is a 1964 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Washington and Lee and holds a Ph.D in American History from the University of Texas. He taught history at Ohio State University and Ohio University and has written extensively on American economic history.

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