The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Today was a symbolic step towards progress for the state of Virginia. In the old capital of the Confederacy the statue of Robert E. Lee has finally been removed. For some it is a celebration. For others it is an end of an era.

The statue of Robert E. Lee never represented anything good. Robert E. Lee was a slave owner and a rebel, a cruel man and a traitor to his country. He didn’t deserve enshrinement. Some find his unwillingness to turn his back on his state when they left the Union to be admirable but he turned his back on his country and he fought for the continuation of a horrific and brutal practice and not just its continuation but its expansion.

Ulysses S. Grant said in a famous conversation with Otto von Bismarck, “There had to be an end of slavery. Then we were fighting an enemy with whom we could not make a peace. We had to destroy him. No convention, no treaty, was possible—only destruction.” Grants point was while the war was long, drawn out, and cost many lives it was worth it because it ended slavery. If the war had ended too quickly it would have only been a war to preserve the Union and not a war to end slavery. As William Seward said you can’t fight the enemy and not his cause.

The final part is important when it comes to the statue of Robert E. Lee. Statues honoring the Confederates is a concession. It is allowing them to live on in history and spread their narrative. The belief that the south was full of righteous gentlemen fighting for states rights. That narrative has no place in civilized society. The south was fighting to preserve and spread slavery.

There couldn’t have been peace between the Union and the Confederacy because it would have been a peace that couldn’t have lasted. The war started, in large part, because the southern states wanted to spread slavery west. The war might not have continued in the same manner had there been a peace treaty between the Union and Confederacy but it would have continued. It would have been a battle over territory. Territory that if it became controlled by the Confederacy would have spread slavery.

Slavery had to end as Grant said. The Confederacy had to be destroyed, and today was one of the final steps in that destruction. Where some see the erasure of our history others see the final promise of Ulysses S. Grant. The complete and unconditional surrender of the enemy.

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