I write in response to the recent column by Dennis Persica.
I agree with Mr. Persica that Allen Toussaint deserves recognition for his awesome lifetime achievements. Mr. Toussaint surely should be honored.
However, I strongly disagree with Mr. Persica and others who would have a statue of Mr. Toussaint replace that of Robert E. Lee on Lee’s Circle.
Mr. Persica writes that “Robert E. Lee has had his day in the sun.” But he most certainly should know better as he writes that Robert E. Lee “led an armed rebellion against the United States.” With even a modicum of knowledge of American history, Mr. Persica would find that the Southern states seceded from the Union and wanted to be a free and separate confederation. There was never the intent of the seceding Southern states to overthrow the union.
Quite the contrary.
Robert E. Lee was one of the finest men this nation has ever produced. But as it became evident in early 1861 that the Southern states were going to declare their independence just as the United States did in 1776, Robert E. Lee was offered, on April 18,1861, the command of all Union forces. As it was President Lincoln’s stated plan to invade the South to force them to stay in the Union, Lee resigned from the Union army, and he concluded his letter with the words:
“Save in defense of my nation state, I never desire again to draw my sword.” He said also that “though opposed to secession and the deprecating war, I could take no part in an invasion of the southern states.” As an invasion of Virginia grew imminent, he accepted the command of the Army of Virginia.
In the pantheon of great American men there is no greater name than Robert E. Lee. Let us find a more appropriate place to honor Mr. Toussaint, and leave Robert E. Lee where he is.
William Nile Stadler, Sr.