To honor Robert E. Lee’s birthday on January 19 as we rethink Martin Luther King Day, even after Honest Abe crushed the South with a brutal, unrestrained, and unconstitutional war partly against civilians, the U.S. Supreme Court had not abandoned its duty to protect the rights of Americans. After the government seized Lee’s home at Arlington, a centerpiece of the national necropolis for our war dead, SCOTUS ordered the government to give it back.
The trouble for Lee’s estate began when Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs, a Georgian, furious at Lee’s joining the South, began to bury Union soldiers there on June 15, 1864. Confederate skirmishers killed his son, 22-year-old West Point alumnus Lt. John Rodgers Meigs, that October, which obviously didn’t help matters for the Lees. Federal officials seized the land and the mansion for nonpayment of taxes, despite the Lees having tried to pay them. The government then sold the property to pay the taxes.
Former Confederate General George Washington Custis Lee asked Congress to restore the property, a plea that went nowhere, and so he sued. In 1882, SCOTUS decided United States v. Lee in the plaintiffs’ favor, a precedent setting sovereignty case, and restored the property to the family’s ownership. The family never moved back, and so Lee sold the property to the federal government for $150,000.
The legal details are less important than the case’s larger legal and historical meaning. Even after secession, with the national wound from the war still fresh, SCOTUS settled the case fairly.
The statue wreckers haven’t set the mansion ablaze, and so it still sits above John F. Kennedy’s nauseating eternal flame.
In yet another attack on Lee and all things Confederate, just before Christmas, the U.S. Military Academy, now under the control of de facto communists, began removing all its venerable Confederate symbols, including the 1829 graduate’s portrait. Lee graduated second in his class, had no demerits, and was superintendent for three years, 1852-1855.
West Point is removing Confederate symbols from campushttps://t.co/tcLwmsTuxt— Military Times (@MilitaryTimes) December 22, 2022
Maybe next we’ll hear that Washington & Lee has disinterred Lee and removed his remains from the chapel recently stripped of his name, just as the lunatics in Richmond, Virginia, disinterred A.P. Hill.
Campus communists recently lost a battle to drop Lee’s name from the school when trustees voted 22-6 against the idea [Washington and Lee University will keep its name, Lee Chapel will not, by Jeff Williamson, WSLS.com, June 4, 2021].
They won’t be around forever, though, and the communists won’t quit until they’ve won.