By Volpe Boykin
Boykin is a retired police officer and private investigator. He lives in Isle of Wight County.
I would like to comment on the commentary written by Mr. Terron Sims (“We shouldn’t honor the worst of traitors,” May 29) and correct some of the incorrect and erroneous information that was printed. Their is no way to correct it all in this limited forum, so I must limit myself to the most glaring twisting of the facts.
One of the causes of the American Civil War was the slavery issue, but according to Abraham Lincoln this was not his purpose for keeping the seceded states in the United States. Slavery remained legal and sanctioned in the U.S. Constitution until the 13th Amendment. Not one slave was ever legally brought to the North American continent by a Confederate States Ship. All legally brought to the United States were on U.S. flagged ships after being captured by their African countrymen and then sold. Importation of slaves was outlawed in 1808 but sadly owning slaves remained a Constitutional right and sanctioned by the U.S. Constitution, which called slaves 3/5th of a person until Dec. 6, 1865.
On the issue of Gen. Lee being a traitor: Obviously Mr. Sims is not aware of what makes one a traitor. Gen. Lee resigned his commission in the U.S. Army and publicly changed his allegiance. Much as George Washington did when he took command of the Continental Army and was also called a traitor by the British only 86 years earlier. If Lee had been a traitor, he would have kept his allegiance to himself and taken the offered command of the Union Army and then purposefully led it to destruction, which he could have easily done, much in the style of what Benedict Arnold attempted to do. Changing ones allegiance based on a changing situation in government does not make one a traitor. It makes one honest to his allegiance.
Judging the persons of the distant past with 21st century hindsight is just unfair and wrong. They basically lived in a different world with different knowledge. Lee, Jackson or any soldier of the Confederacy should not be judged by our present standards, just as the Africans that captured their own countrymen and sold them into slavery should not be judged by us in our time. They were flawed humans of their time and knowledge, not ours.
It is always ignored that the U.S. Government in 1958 passed Public Law Bill 85-425 Section 410 that paid the same pensions to Confederate Veterans as they did Union Veterans considering them all American soldiers. In this same vain it is ignored that Many descendants of Confederate soldiers went on to valiantly serve in the U.S. Armed forces. Gen. George Patton, Thomas J. Jackson Christian (grandson of Stonewall Jackson) killed in Europe, Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. (son of the Confederate general of the same name) who was one of the highest ranking American generals killed in combat in World War II, Gen. Joseph Wheeler who went on to fight in the U.S. Army in the Spanish-American War. These are just four examples of a very long list. Military bases were named for the fighting ability of the people they were named for. Not their beliefs on slavery.
No one I know who revers their ancestors who fought for the Confederacy (including myself) wishes the Confederacy had won that war or wishes enslavement of other humans would have continued. That is an insane accusation. We realize they were different people from a different time, fighting for many different reasons. Does every soldier in any war fight for the same reason? I think not.
There was nothing in the Constitution that prohibited a state from seceding. That is evidenced by no one being tried for treason after the conclusion of the war. If it were illegal for a state to secede, and therefore they did not secede, according to the U.S. Government, then comes the question of why they had to be re-admitted to the United States after the war, if they never seceded in the first place.
Finally, yes, (contrary to Sims and his erroneous information) there is a memorial to George Washington in Great Britain.
It is located in a prominent place in Trafalgar Square.