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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/106

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98 Southern Historical Society Papers.

" It is hardly possible that any man in the North could have gone through the spiritual struggle that Robert E. Lee went through dur- ing the days when war was threatened. In the North those men that wavered were choosing between a low motive and a high one. Robert E. Lee was beset by two conflicting high motives. That he chose to follow that high motive which kept him with his State The Outlook believes to have been an error of political judgment; but it was not a moral error, not even an error of political morality. He who is loyal cannot be a traitor, and Lee and the men of his stamp were as loyal to their conscientious convictions as were the men who fought against them. The test of patriotism, like the test of any other moral quality is not success, but loyalty to conviction; and by that test Robert E. Lee stands to-day among the purest, though among the most tragically misled and misunderstood of patriots. *

  • * If willingness to sacrifice what is passionately prized next to

honor itself is any criterion as to the degree of patriotism that begets such sacrifice, then those Southerners of whom Robert E. Lee is the type, are to be counted among the patriots whose lives constitute the real riches of the nation."

Harper" s Weekly said that it could thoroughly understand the motives which prompted the Virginia Legislature to pass the bill, calling Lee "a great and good man," and saying:

"The conviction that his State had a right to secede if she chose, and that she having done so, it was his duty to uphold her, was shared not only by almost all the contemporary statesmen in the Southern States, but also by Josiah Quincy and many other New England statesmen in the first fifteen years of the nineteenth cen- tury. It will, therefore, be as impossible for the future American his- torian, however devoted to the Union he may be, to dispute the rectitude of Lee's motives, as it will be to belittle his military abili- ties."

In this connection it may be mentioned that the Springfield (Mass.) Republican, while thinking the time not yet ripe for the pre- sentation of the statue, said, in commenting upon the fact, brought out by Mr. Charles Francis Adams in a footnote to his Charleston address, that the constitutional right of secession was taught in the textbook {Rawle 1 s View of the Constitution), in use at West Point while Lee was a student there:

V The question immediately arises whether the United States gov- ernment had any just grievance against Robert E. Lee, when in