xml:space="preserve">

A little education is a dangerous thing, and there is certainly too little education involved in recommending the removal of the statues of Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson ("Panel: Remove pair of statues," Jan. 15). Mr. Lee was a respected temporary citizen of Baltimore when he oversaw the construction of Fort Carroll. He abhorred slavery, thought it was an abomination. He owned no slaves, but his wife, Mary Custis Lee, inherited slaves descended from those at Mt. Vernon. She was the granddaughter of George Washington's stepson. (Washington never freed a slave, so should his name be removed from the Washington Monument?) The Lees realized that if they just freed their slaves, they would be preyed upon by unscrupulous whites who would have them re-enslaved. So they broke Virginia law and risked prison by educating their slaves so they would be equipped to take care of themselves when set free, and they freed them far in advance of the effectiveness of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and at a time they would be protected by the invading Union army. Then there was the time after the war when General Lee refused communion in his Richmond Episcopal church when the priest refused to serve communion to a free black man, and he walked out with that man never to return.

Stonewall Jackson was another Virginian who owned no slaves and risked imprisonment by running a Sunday school for slaves in Lexington. There is a book published in 2006 by Cumberland House Publishing: "Stonewall Jackson, The Black Man's Friend." It would help to further the little education of those who have recommended removal of the Lee-Jackson Memorial. Rather than remove it, a plaque should be erected with the information presented here to put the honor of these men in the correct context.

Advertisement

As for Marylander Roger B. Taney, his decision in the Dred Scott case was the only one he could render under the Constitution as written, not as later amended. He freed his own slaves but was powerless to interfere with the institution which was provided in the U.S. Constitution.

Rather than bringing people together, removal of these memorials will only cause resentment and trying to rewrite history will further divide us.

Martin K. Van Horn, Towson

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement