Skip to main content

More On Lee

April 2024
1min read

In the “Correspondence” section of the July/August issue, Ms. Frances O. Bohman states that “R. E. Lee was a slave owner.” Robert E. Lee was only eleven years old at the time of his father’s death, and the family had become next to impoverished. After he was appointed to the United States Military Academy, he was involved in the military almost entirely. Lee married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, and in 1857 her father died. He had asked particularly that all of his slaves be “emancipated at his death,” and they were—by Lee, as executor. In essence, there is no evidence that Robert E. Lee ever owned a single slave.

The writer says also that General Lee should have been executed for treason. A day or two after Appomattox, a cheering crowd approached the White House with a band playing patriotic songs. After a while President Lincoln raised his hand and said to the crowd, “Now let the band play ‘Dixie.’”Apparently Mr. Lincoln didn’t have the animosity in 1865 that Ms. Bohman does in 1991.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.