What Robert E. Lee Wrote to The Times About Slavery in 1858 By JACEY FORTIN

General Robert E. Lee in May 1869. Credit Library of Congress

One day in January, a few years before the Civil War, Robert E. Lee wrote to The New York Times, seeking a correction.

The man who would become the top Confederate general was trying to set the record straight about the slaves on his wife’s estate in Virginia, and about the last wishes of a dying slave owner.

He wrote that the people enslaved on his family’s property, in what was then known as Alexandria County, were not “being sold South,” as had been reported. And he implied that he would free them within five years.

The letter is one of many written by Lee that sheds slivers of light on his thoughts about slavery. Historians have clashed — and are clashing still — over the strength of his support for the system of forced labor that kept millions of people in bondage for generations.

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Now that statues of Lee and other Confederate leaders are the focus of an intensely heated national debate, the issue is an especially pertinent one.

“He was not a pro-slavery ideologue,” Eric Foner, a Civil War historian, author and professor of history at Columbia University, said of Lee. “But I think equally important is that, unlike some white southerners, he never spoke out against slavery.”

When Lee wrote his letter to The Times, he was an accomplished United States Army officer acting as the executor of his father-in-law’s will. His wife, Mary Anna Custis Lee, a descendant of Martha Washington, had recently inherited her father’s estate, Arlington House, along with the slaves who lived there.

In his will, Ms. Lee’s father, George Washington Parke Custis, said his slaves should be freed five years after his death.

But an article that was first published by The Boston Traveller and reprinted in The Times on Dec. 30, 1857, contended that the slaves “will be consigned to hopeless Slavery unless something can be done” because Mr. Custis’s heirs did not want to free them.


An article published in The New York Times on Dec. 30, 1857, speculated that the emancipation of slaves at Arlington House was stalled because of “foul play.” Robert E. Lee, who would become the top Confederate general during the Civil War, begged to differ. Credit The New York Times

It also said that Mr. Custis, while dying, told his slaves that they should be freed immediately, rather than five years on.

Lee challenged that account. In his letter to The Times, he said that “there is no desire on the part of the heirs to prevent the execution” of the will. And he said Mr. Custis, who was “constantly attended” by family members during his final days, had never been heard granting immediate freedom to his slaves.

The Times published Lee’s letter on Jan. 8, 1858, (though the letter itself, written shortly after New Year’s, appears to be mistakenly dated 1857) and said it was “glad” to be corrected on the matter.

The war came three years later.

Lee joined the secessionists in April 1861. He left Arlington House, and the estate was eventually overtaken by Union soldiers. (The dead were buried in its grounds, which would later become the site of Arlington National Cemetery.) Over the course of the conflict, many slaves were hired out or escaped the property.

In 1862, in accordance with Mr. Custis’s will, Lee filed a deed of manumission to free the slaves at Arlington House and at two more plantations Mr. Custis had owned, individually naming more than 150 of them. And in January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that all people held as slaves in the rebelling states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Of all the letters by Lee that have been collected by archivists and historians over the years, one of the most famous was written to his wife in 1856. “In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country,” he wrote.

But he added that slavery was “a greater evil to the white man than to the black race” in the United States, and that the “painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction.”


The Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, Va., was at the center of a violent rally this past weekend. Credit Bryan McKenzie/The Daily Progress, via Associated Press

The 1857 article in The Times noted that slaves’ own voices were missing from the story of Mr. Custis’s dying wishes. It said that when he told his slaves they would be freed, “no white man was in the room, and the testimony of negroes will not be taken in Court.”

But years later, in 1866, one former slave at Arlington House, Wesley Norris, gave his testimony to the National Anti-Slavery Standard. Mr. Norris said that he and others at Arlington were indeed told by Mr. Custis they would be freed upon his death, but that Lee had told them to stay for five more years.

So Mr. Norris said he, a sister and a cousin tried to escape in 1859, but were caught. “We were tied firmly to posts by a Mr. Gwin, our overseer, who was ordered by Gen. Lee to strip us to the waist and give us fifty lashes each, excepting my sister, who received but twenty,” he said.

And when the overseer declined to wield the lash, a constable stepped up, Mr. Norris said. He added that Lee had told the constable to “lay it on well.”

Dr. Foner said that after the war, Lee did not support rights for black citizens, such as the right to vote, and was largely silent about violence perpetrated by white supremacists during Reconstruction.

The general did, however, object to the idea of raising Confederate monuments, writing in 1869 that it would be wiser “not to keep open the sores of war but to follow the examples of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife.”


Posted :  AUG. 18, 2017

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Review of Beneath Copper Falls



Beneath Copper Falls


In Colleen Coble’s Beneath Copper Falls, dispatcher Dana Newell escapes to Rock Harbor to break out of an abusive relationship and make a new life. When a desperate friend also finds herself under threat and calls 911 for help, Dana’s memories come flooding back. Will the police arrive in time? Or will Dana’s friend be another victim? And will Dana be next?


Beneath Copper Falls is the perfect combination of romance and suspense. The setting in the upper peninsula of Michigan provides a beautiful backdrop for intriguing mystery and budding relationship. The culinary touches throughout the storyline add to its warmth. Without the peachiness of so many Christian novels, the spiritual message is clear and effective. Apart from some unrealistic tendencies in the romantic relationships, this is an enjoyable read.


Beneath Copper Falls is Coble’s sixth offering in the Rock Harbor Series, and it’s easy to see why she remains popular in the Christian Market.



I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.


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Review of Forensic Faith

Forensic Faith

In his book, Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential, Christian Faith, J. Warner Wallace relies on his law enforcement skills and applies them to the field of Christian apologetics. Wallace argues that Christians can, and must, be ready to defend what they believe in an increasingly atheistic society. Using scripture and his experience in criminal investigation, Wallace explains why and how we believers can reach others with the Gospel.

Forensic Faith is a small book, but it packs a powerful punch. As a former atheist himself, Wallace systematically presents the arguments routinely used by skeptics and demonstrates how to answer them. The examples from his years as a police officer are both fascinating and informative. His simple and logical approach makes the concepts he teaches easy to understand. Wallace’s passion for apologetics is palpable as he maintains that any Christian with a little study and stamina can have a reasonable and effective answer for the toughest critic.

Forensic Faith is a must-have for those seeking to train themselves in apologetics and the effective defense of their faith in a hostile world. I highly recommend it.

I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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Review of Pursued


pursuedIn Lisa Harris’s Pursued, Special Agent Nikki Boyd’s plane crash lands and the woman sitting next to her disappears. When Nikki starts asking questions she finds herself involved in something that is more than she bargained for. Nikki may have survived a crash landing, but will she live long enough to find the answers she is looking for?

Pursued is the third, stand-alone novel in the Nikki Boyd Series and has a riveting, action-packed storyline. The fast-paced narrative keeps the reader turning the pages as the pulse-pounding search for the witness ensues. It is a thrilling read without the preachiness prevalent in so much of Christian fiction.

However, there are two main drawbacks in the book. First, there is an in-artful phrase used in conversation that sends mixed signals and may undercut the Christian message of the novel. Secondly, the romantic angle lacks depth and the love interest seems added on and without proper resolution. As a result, the story feels too long and the climax is flat.

In spite of its lack of satisfactory romance, Pursued is a gripping and entertaining venture into Christian fiction.


I was given a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

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She Couldn’t, But She Did By Peter Leavell

Once upon a time, a young girl wanted…

But then she was told she couldn’t. And she believed them.

My temperature rose 10 degrees writing those words, even though my heart chilled to absolute zero. Repression of any kind is wrong and must stop. But here’s the rub. Overcoming repression makes for fantastic stories.

I’ve written on gender bias, slavery, Native Americans, and religious topics. At the moment, I’m obsessed with female repression. (To be clear, I love hearing how the oppression was overcome, thus learning a bit more about how I can be of service to the oppressed.)
Repression, force or control over someone, is prevalent in every society, in all times. NOT FUN. But again, overcoming repression makes for fantastic stories.

The American West is no different in their sins than any other culture, but the specific repressions thrown together by different powers are unique. So when I write westerns, I combine my obsession with repressed females with bad dudes wearing guns, and boom, page turner.

But here’s where my westerns are different.

I give the girl a gun. And you know what? That’s how some women in the American West solved their repression issues. Because overcoming repression makes for fantastic stories.

Does the feminine mystique only go so far when pitted against masculinity? Instead of blurring these gender differences, I love to enhance them. Why? Because each person has qualities and weaknesses that are unique. And when you bring their skills together, they solve common problems. They do in my novels.

To see if I celebrate the differences of gender roles or blend them or disregard them, read my latest novel, Shadow of Devil’s Tower.

Once upon a time, a young girl wanted…

But then she was told she couldn’t. Then she planned, worked hard, and it happened.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. His latest book, Shadow of Devil’s Tower, is out now! Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at http://www.peterleavell.com.


May 25,2017

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Bigger Than Baseball

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8 Reasons Why Reading Is So Important JJ Wong

Why Reading is So Important?

Everyone knows that reading is important, but have you ever asked yourself why that is so? In this post, I will list out 8 reasons why reading is important. I hope you can really find out the reason why reading is so important for you, so you can get a brand new desire to explore the world of reading.

1. Expose Yourself to New Things

Through reading, you expose yourself to new things, new information, new ways to solve a problem, and new ways to achieve one thing. Who knows – you might find your new hobbies within it. Who knows – you might actually explore one thing you really like and it may end up becoming your career and success in the future. Exploration begins from reading and understanding.

2. Self Improvement

Reading does help you form a better you, doesn’t it? Through reading, you begin understand the world more. Through reading, you begin to have a greater understanding on a topic that interest you; for example: how to build self confidence, how to make plan better before taking action, how to memorize things better and more. All of these self improvements start from the reading; through reading, you create a structured path towards a better understanding and better actions to take in the future.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. -Charles W. Elio-

3. Improve Understanding

The more you read, the more you understand one thing: the A to Z of a thing. Let me give an example here: reading allows you learn more about crocodiles and their habits. That you need to be aware of places it usually lurks for, the purpose of staying away from being harmed or bitten. Or perhaps you can try by real life experience, in approaching the crocodile, to see what happen. It can also help you find out the truth of something, right? Reading also increases the understanding of the rules of life, in order for you to adapt, adopt and accommodate into the society better. To play well in a game, you first need to understand the rules well.

4. Preparation to Action

Before you take action on anything, where should you seek for help and guidance? Reading is an essential way which can help you out. In today’s world, getting reviews and feedback from other people can make a big impact on your next decision, and the pros and cons of each choice. Read about how to cook a meal; how to play chess; which place is nice for the holiday family trip; read the menu before ordering food, read the manual before using a new gadget. These all can help you become more prepared before you really get into it.

Read > Learn > Do > Achieve

Reading is a starting step of many things, which build a more solid stairs for you to climb up achieving something big out there.

5. Gain Experience from Other People

When you are reading, you are actually gaining the knowledge and experience of someone. It can hasten your success towards a goal, as you don’t need to repeat the same mistake while focusing on the right path in achieving one thing. It’s like a mountain of gems for you to discover in books, which contain people’s successes, failures and advice. Life is too short for you to keep repeating the mistakes that had been done by other people in the past, in order for you to reach the results that someone might already reached. There are more than four thousand billionaires and 12 million millionaires today. To become one of them, the first thing is to learn and get to know their past, what they did in the past that makes them where they are today. Reading is a great path to get to know them, and learn from these great people.

The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book. | André Maurois

6. Tools of Communicating

Communication is the most important tool which can be transmitted through reading. As you communicate through reading, you understand more, and thus you can communicate better with people. As with a person that knows nothing, he hasn’t had anything to share, and he probably doesn’t even understand what people are sharing. Through reading, you build a more solid foundation for communication. It is one of the most important tools we use every day to connect with each other. Whereas if you don’t read, you can’t even connect with the world and what people are talking about out there, including understanding what this article is all about. Reading connects you with the world.

7. Connecting Your Brain

When reading, you’re in full silence because reading connects directly to your brain. In silence, you seek for more; in silence, your brain is clear and focuses. Thus, you learn and grow, and therefore you feel and see from the point of view of the author about everything in life. Hence you shape a better self.

Because silence exists with total abandon, it is fearless. Because silence is fearless, it holds the power that can break through any barrier. | On Silence

8. Boost Imagination and Creativity

Reading exposes you to a world of imagination, showing you nothing is impossible in this world. By reading, you are exploring a different angle to see a thing you’ve known, on how different action leads to different results. Books are beyond imagination. It’s like a huge spider web, where you keep linking to more and more to things you knew, and things you just learn, structuring new solutions and answers.

So in your opinion, why is reading so important to you?

JJ Wong – Co-founder of Inspiration Boost is passionate in self development & improvement. He loves reading, especially on personal growth, success stories, business related and more.


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