MONUMENT AVENUE – “THERE GOES ROBERT E. LEE”
Sign up for JPG+ to start using collections now!
Photo license: © All rights reserved
[Monument Avenue, Richmond, Virginia, October 2012]
Richmond’s Monument Avenue is an ode to the past.
There, in grand scale, are equestrian statues of the great Confederate chieftains, Gen. Robert E. Lee, Lt. Gen. Thomas. J. (“Stonewall”) Jackson, and Lt. Gen. James Ewell Brown (“JEB”) Stuart, all of them West Point graduates. There are also monuments to Confederate President Jefferson Davis (also a West Point graduate) and Matthew Fontaine Maury, the “Pathfinder of the Seas.”
Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) was born at Stratford Hall, Virginia, into an ancient and noble family, and was raised in genteel poverty in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. His aging and ailing father, Gen. Henry (“Light-Horse Harry”) Lee, III, a hero of the American Revolution, was deep in debt and never home, leaving Lee’s mother, Ann Hill Carter Lee, to raise the boy who would one day become one of the most admired men in American history.
When the American Civil War began, Lee was offered command of the United States Army, but declined choosing, instead, to return home to Virginia. Lee would not draw his sword to defend slavery, but he would defend Virginia’s right to be free from invasion. Virginia, Lee reasoned, had been sovereign for more than 250 years – ever since Jamestowne – whereas the United States was, by comparison, a relatively new concept, that is, a federation created by a voluntary association of states.
Historians have debated the constitutionality of secession and the wisdom of Lee’s decision. I do not propose to do either in this forum.
After the War, Lee was appointed president of Washington College (later Washington and Lee University), a post he held until his death, in 1870.
General Lee was elected to the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in 1900. Gen. Jackson was elected in 1957. And Matthew Fontaine Maury was elected in 1930. The Hall of Fame is located on the campus of Bronx Community College, CUNY, in New York City. The Hall features a bust of each member, and it is worth a visit.
If you have time, click on Joan Baez’ famous version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” linked below. What a beautiful voice. Listen for the line, “There goes Robert E. Lee.” The accompanying video is from “Custer of the West” (1967). (Robert Shaw of “Jaws” fame plays Custer!)
I hope you enjoyed this. As always, thanks for stopping by.
Also by Richard Knight
Please Login or Sign Up
Login or Sign Up
Need contest credits? Get 'em here!
Select a Shoot Out contest credit package below.