Kingsmill

There are many myths surrounding the man Robert E. Lee. The West Point graduate had a distinguished career in the United States military. The Civil War would alter his course and leave him one of the most controversial people in history.  

He was a complex person. His positions on secession and slavery sometimes seemed in direct juxtaposition to each other. He opposed secession, yet refused a command in the US Army to remain loyal to Virginia, subsequently becoming the General of the Confederate Army. He was generally opposed to slavery yet he was a slave owner. These slaves, however, were inherited slaves.   

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(5) comments

MCHall

Mr. Kingsmill,

Thank you for your letter and comments concerning Lee High School. If we erase our history even though we may find parts offensive, we have no idea from where we have come nor how far we have traveled.

ChrisBacon

“ He was generally opposed to slavery yet he was a slave owner. These slaves, however, were inherited slaves.” Really? When I taught at REL in the 1980s, on third if my students were black. If my former black students and the current black students at REL are okay with the school’s name, so am I. Otherwise, I would suggest the following compromise: let’s rename the school Shiela Jackson LEE high school. That’s not really a serious recommendation. But I hope you get my point. We need a name that we can all be proud of: black and white.

BayTX

You might want to look up the definition of an executor of a will, which is “An executor administers the distribution of an estate to beneficiaries. A will is a legal document that indicates how a person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after death.”

Robert E. Lee did NOT inherit slaves – he was the executor of his father-in-law’s will. In his will, George Washington Parke Custis instructed for all his slaves to be free within five years after his death.

While educating slaves was against the law at the time, Mr. and Mrs. Custis and their daughter Mary (Lee’s wife) were teaching their slaves to read and write. Lee intended to further their education by making sure that when emancipated, each slave would have a craft to make a living. The five years expressed by Mr. Custis in his will would provide the time necessary for each slave to be trained in a skill.

Mr. Custis died in October 1857. Lee executed the Deed of Manumission on December 29, 1862, and on January 2, 1863, one day after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, General Lee declared Custis’s slaves “forever set free from slavery.”

BayTX

Chris Bacon -- You might want to look up the definition of an executor of a will, which is “An executor administers the distribution of an estate to beneficiaries. A will is a legal document that indicates how a person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after death.”

Robert E. Lee did NOT inherit slaves – he was the executor of his father-in-law’s will. In his will, George Washington Parke Custis instructed for all his slaves to be free within five years after his death.

While educating slaves was against the law at the time, Mr. and Mrs. Custis and their daughter Mary (Lee’s wife) were teaching their slaves to read and write. Lee intended to further their education by making sure that when emancipated, each slave would have a craft to make a living. The five years expressed by Mr. Custis in his will would provide the time necessary for each slave to be trained in a skill.

Mr. Custis died in October 1857. Lee executed the Deed of Manumission on December 29, 1862, and on January 2, 1863, one day after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, General Lee declared Custis’s slaves “forever set free from slavery.”

Praise

Yes...Great Suggestion!! Sheila Jackson LEE is offensive to me. It is absurd to spend so much time, money and energy on the suggestion of renaming a high school. Hey Baytown, let’s ban together and spend that same time, money and energy on feeding the hungry, helping our homeless, tending to our elderly, picking up trash, repairing our roads, funding our police, keeping drugs and criminals off our streets... so many improvements can be made to Baytown besides exhaustingly changing an almost 100 year old school name.

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