Saturday, March 30, 2013

Why Lee's slave ledgers may (eventually) change everything we claim about "Confederate honor".


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Elizabeth Pryor, author of "Remembering the Man, a Portrait of Robert E Lee Though His Private Letters". If she could tell Robert E Lee one thing, it might be this...
"Please, General Lee, if you are going to whip girls, sell children, write dirty letters, and  order your soldiers to kill fellow Southern soldiers who run during battle, PLEASE don't write it down."

Elizabeth Pryor is the only person to actually get to study - at length -- Lee's personal papers, including his slave ledgers and dirty letters. Yes, dirty letters.  And yes, slave ledgers.

Make no mistake,  Pryoris on Lee's side -- she even blames the slave girls for being whipped, that was their fault for trying to escape.  Lee had every right to "protect his property"  and anyway, Pryor claims in one of the more Orwellian defense of whipping a slave girl ever written, it was "a result of Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".

That's right, Lee had slave girls whipped -- but NOT because he enjoyed it or was cruel.  Pryor knows what was in his mind - he was just frustrated because of his "poor cross cultural communication skills"


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What poor communication skills?    Lee made it VERY clear to his slaves what he would do -- in fact, reports in the newspapers show Lee taunted the slave girl before he had her whipped, and told her she would remember it for the rest of her life.

Lee never blamed "communication" issue.   Lee himself justified the torture of slaves, or as he called it "painful discipline" because God himself ordained it!  Nor was Lee unusual in the slightest -- slave masters justified slavery and the torture (yes torture is the right word) as ordained by God.

Lee wrote that  God knew and intended slaves feel pain.  Pain, wrote Lee, was "necessary for their instruction."



 The narrative we have now, pushed by text books published in Texas for 100 years, is that slave owners were often kind men.  No, the more slaves you owned, the more brutal you were, and rape was common, yes common, even at Lee's slave plantation.

By the way, Lee's product, his cash crop, was SLAVES.   No one told you that, did they?  He did not raise cotton or chickens, he raised slaves, to be worked, rented out, and sold.   

If you were obedient and subservient -- and pleased your master's every whim -- perhaps you were treated better.  But slavery was a violent enterprise, Lee proved that by installing a whipping post at Arlington as soon as he took over.  And he used it.

Lee had even girls as young as 14 whipped. And according to newspaper reports at the time, Lee taunted the slave girl before he had her whipped, and yelled at her all through her torture.

That's right -- reported BEFORE the Civil War, in three different newspapers. 

  Kind? Really. Pryor reports the slaves said Lee was "the worst man we ever saw".  

Lee himself wrote that God intended slavery to be painful.   Slaves were being punished by GOD -- did you know that? Slavery was not just allowable, slavery was God's way of "instructing" the slaves.  

Bet you didn't know that. This is the part of Southern history we do not teach, the repeated clear and emphatic assertions by Lee and others that whites were INTENDED to inflict pain on disobedient slaves.  

In fact, Southern writers would claim absolutely anything, because that sold books.

IN this passage, in a book still sold today on Amazon, still in libraries under "history"  "historians" tell us Lee and all his officers would dismount during battle, for extended periods of time, in silent prayer!!  No on said that nonsense then.  In fact, Longstreet said Lee was always well in the rear.  No one stood silent in prayer in groups out in the open as bombs blew up around them.,

But that's how goofy Lee biographies not only were - but are right now, today. 

Lee was "BY FAR" the best Christian -- said his biographer Douglas Southall Freeman, with a straight face.   Never mind that Lee wrote dirty letters (see below) and claimed God ordained torture (painful discipline),  and that Freeman knew both those things, Freeman just didn't include such inconvenient truths, and then built up the most extreme narrative humanly possible.

Lee "had no faults" to probe, said Freeman.  And remember, Freeman knew, when he wrote this, that Lee wrote dirty letters and defended the torture (torture is the right word) of slaves, including torture of slave girls.

Let that sink in.   Freeman's father served under Lee, and Freeman had a man crush from hell on Lee.  Freeman just made shit up, frankly, when he wanted to, and ignored the tortures, ignored the fact Lee sold children, ignored the fact Lee committed treason, ignored the fact Lee wrote dirty letters for DECADES.

So with Freeman making up great sounding crapola, and not telling you about the tortures, whippings, sale of children, etc, of course, Lee has to rise to near God like qualities.  What else could happen?

  Lee was the most chaste, the most faithful, the most tidy (yes, even the most tidy) the most brave, the most honest, the most loyal -- you get the idea.

Lee prayed with a black woman, when others scorned her.  Lee freed his wife's slaves, but they loved him so much, they wouldn't leave.  Lee only cared about "bringing souls to Christ".   On and on.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, was too wonderful to attribute to Lee. 

Remember this: an "historian" who won the Pulitzer Prize said with a straight face, that Lee now sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord, and had "no faults" to probe.

This is an indictment of "scholarship" about Lee and the Civil War, as much as it is about Lee himself.  "Historians" have actually competed to just make up more and more goofy accolades about Lee, pumping up a false narrative into an absurdity. 



Actually, are ANY of those stories true, is a better question. 

We were told Lee was kind, loyal, chaste, antislavery, as you will see, that's not only nonsense, Lee was a cruel man, and not faithful or chaste.

Well surely the "military" stuff is right, anyway?   Maybe, maybe not. The same folks who shouted out his bravery, chastity, honor, loyalty, and anti slavery beliefs, told us Lee was the greatest soldier whoever lived!

But facts matter.  And the facts are nothing like we were told. We should start over, and this time, care about facts, not repeating the myth, the goofy narrative that never was true.

So was the military stuff true?  Not so sure. The point is, the "scholarship" about Lee, and the Southern leaders generally, is nonsense, and we need to go by facts, not just repeat myths. 


The "facts" that supposedly proved Lee was anti slavery, kind, brave, a super Christian, etc, was the basis for the accolades.   But those facts were never true.

  Lee was never anti slavery,  nor did anyone say such nonsense at the time.  In fact, newspapers before the Civil War showed Lee was an especially cruel slaver, who had girls whipped while he screamed at them.  That's right, before the Civil War, Lee was reported to be an especially cruel man. 

Bet you didn't know that.


Lee defended the "painful discipline" his slaves "must endure" by claiming it was ordained by God.   Tellingly that letter is used by Southern apologist to "prove" Lee was anti slavery!!

Lee's hat says in one sentence that slavery is a moral and political evil -- but read the rest of the letter!!  Slavery is good for slaves, and the slave master is the on imposed upon!  Slavery is a religious liberty, intended by God, and it is not up to man to question God on this (a common excuse at the time).

Lee claimed, in that letter, that slaves MUST endure pain, and slavery is a religious liberty, yet in the Orwellian world of slave apologist, a single deceptive phrase in the letter means everything -- the rest of the letter, and his own record of torture, selling children, and paying bounties, mean apparently nothing.  

Remember this -- Lee claim God knows and intends slaves to feel pain. Pain is NECESSARY for their instruction. That's crazy enough, but remember, Lee and slave apologist have used that insanity to prove Lee was against slavery!!


Now, with Lee's slave ledgers and thousands of letters, we know how painful Lee made it for slaves -- especially slave girls.

The facts that come to light, via his own handwritten papers, show Lee was MORE cruel than most, and essentially heartless towards slaves.  He wished the sick children would die quickly, he sold or rent out the mothers or children, separating them, he had slaves chased down for months, who tried to escape, and he had them whipped, and used other tortures on them.

Yes, besides whipping, Lee had other tortures IN ADDITION to whipping. Not instead, but in ADDITION.  Lee screamed at slave girls as he had them whipped.

So what's that make Lee?   Given the facts, as shown by his own letters and slave ledgers, that makes Lee nothing like, if not opposite from, the myth we have been told about.


Baseless narrative, is not history.  It's anti-history.

 The "Lee narrative" is the most adorational in US history. Lee had no faults to probe!   He was anti slavery, kind, principled, he freed slaves, he was an abolitionist with too much honor to turn on his own state.  His men loved him,  he was outnumbered but because his men loved him so, he prevailed again and again.

There is no evidence to support that.   For example, Lee's stupidity at Gettysburg was maybe the dumbest military move in US history, and he was warned again, and again, and again, not to do it.   He thought God would somehow make his goofy suicide attack work -- he thought God was on his side!

Lee actually had MORE men at Gettysburg, but got his own men slaughtered, and afterwards, over half the men did not reform!  In other words, many of Lee's men deserted.   Jefferson Davis himself, in his Macon speech, said 2/3 of Southern troop deserted or went awol, including Lee's troops!    Bet you didn't hear that.

In fact, Davis himself said emphatically that if just half the men who were awol, would return, there is no way the South could lose.  But desertions increased!!   You aren't told such things. Rather, most Lee biographers just write more goofy superlatives than the last guy, to get attention.  That's not history. That's bullshit. 



Historian Alan Nolan said 20 years ago, essentially,  we need to "start over" about Lee, because what we claim about Lee was not based on scholarship.

Nolan  had no clue how correct he was......  Nolan then "Considered"  Lee -- but did not have Lee's slave ledgers, and dirty letters.    Nolan had no idea the "super biographer" Douglas Southall Freeman lied his ass off (yes, he did, see below).

Nolan had no idea of Lee's dirty letters, or slave ledgers.  Nolan did not know about Lee's  bounty payments, evidence of tortures and rapes. Even without those documents, Nolan posited that the "scholarship" about Lee was essentially not scholarship at all, but idolatry, though he did not use the word.  

In the world of "Lee scholarship"  no accolade was too goofy to praise Lee.   The best Christian, now seated at the right hand of Christ,  caring only for lost souls, saving sparrows from fires, freeing his wife's slaves -- all nonsense.  

In fact, biographers competed to PRAISE Lee more than the next guy, find bits of they myth (usually in books described below) and add to them, repeat them, and shine them up even more.  That's not scholarship.

Luckily -- for the sake of truth -- Lee's papers survived, his own words, that he wrote, his own bounty payments, his own dirty letters, his own records of sales and whippings.  Not someone else saying it -- LEE wrote it down, himself.

Had Lee's family destroyed those letters and slave ledgers, no doubt the myth would endure. Now, it won't, assuming the Lee family allows others to read and publish the actual words Lee wrote. 

No one in 1861 -1865 said Lee was anti slavery. No one said then he didn't own slaves, didn't whip slaves. In fact, newspapers at the time showed particular brutality by Lee personally at Arlington. 

Few little details like torture, rape, bounty payments, can make a bit of a difference.  Nolan thought we should start over, even before he knew about Lee's slave ledgers and dirty letters.  Nolan had no idea Lee had slave girls whipped and screamed at them during their torture, or bought free black women and children and turned them into slaves.   Nolan had no idea Lee's  highest prices went for slave girls -- light skinned slave girls, apparently. 



Did you know Lee's desertion rate was 2/3 by summer of 1864?   And then got much worse?  Much like the other myths, the myth that Lee's men loved him, is not based on facts.  

Lee's biggest problem as a slave owner was escapes -- as you will see below.   His biggest problem in the war -- desertions. In fact, desertions grew so extreme, in Lee's Army, that essentially he could not be sure any order would be carried out. His army was on paper, it "evaporated" to use his term. 

Nor was Lee a military genius before the Civil War. He had never led men in battle before that. He was an engineer, he designed bridges and forts and earthworks.   Lee's entire military experience was essentially his arrest of John Brown, and he was two hours late for that, dressed in civilian clothes, and the "real soldiers" had already surrounded Brown, Lee negotiated the surrender. 

Much more stunning, Lee's early job for Jeff Davis was to use massive amounts of slave labor to build the earthworks around Richmond --  to protect the South's biggest arms factory, Trafalgar Iron works, which produced over half the South's cannon and ammunition.   Without saving those Iron works, Davis thought, probably correctly, the war was lost.  

Lee was called King of Spades by Richmond papers early in the war, because his job was to use massive slave labor, to build the earthworks around Richmond and Trafalgar Iron works, so central to the war. 

Lee earned the name "King of Spades" from Richmond newspapers when he led thousands of slaves to build the earth works, easily the biggest construction job during the Civil War.   Have you ever heard anyone tell you about his King of Spades nick name? No, of course not.   The few "historians" who even mention it, try to pass it off as a jocular name from the troops. Nonsense, it was a newspaper name, given a bit derisively.  Spade, by the way, was a name like "nigger".  



Did you ever hear of the two trunks of Lee's personal handwritten papers, kept by the Lee family?  

No one was allowed to see them, much less study them. 

Most "scholars" assumed the letters and papers would just reiterate what we already knew.   Not so much....

The Lee family and Virginia Historical Society, took 150 years to let one person see them.  

No, they won't show us, still, any of the letters.  They won't show us any of the slave ledgers, either, (see below).

But they did choose a Lee scholar and devotee, Elizabeth Pryor to study them, at length. They allowed her to write a book, based on his personal papers.

Ms Pryor calls her book a "Portrait"  and she chose that word carefully.  A portrait is NOT a candid look, but a carefully made one, to maximize the attractiveness of the person, and minimize the ugliness. 

Lot of ugly to cover up.  See for yourself. 


Make no mistake -- Pryor's narrative is flattering overall.    She opens with a long self serving letter from Lee to his children.  

Read her book, but don't expect her to smear Lee.  She exposes plenty -- she exposes stunning things, like rapes, bounties, sexual letters to various women for decades.

She exposes torture at Lee's own orders, and the fact he would scream at slaves during torture, and that torture was routine --because he had so  many slaves escape, or try to.

She exposes the fact Lee DID NOT free his wife's slaves, until repeatedly ordered to, and fought the order, and disobeyed the court.   And she exposes the fact, Lee owned his own slaves, and got more through bounty hunters.

She also exposes that Lee's slaves hate him, and said he was the worst man they ever knew.  She exposes that Lee had slave ledgers, where he recorded prices, bounties, and much more, but she always exposes things as carefully as she can.  

Pryor  could have opened with a list of prices Lee paid for slave girls, because she held such prices -- that Lee wrote down in his own handwriting -- in her hands.

In his papers are dirty letters, evidence of bounties paid for capture and torture of slaves (torture is the right word).   Evidence even that he bought black women and children who had never been slaves, but were living free, and legally, in the North.   Lee's bounty hunters found them while searching for escaped slaves, and grabbed them too.

Yes, he did.  Lee would do the same thing during the Civil War -- while on a campaign in the North, he had his soldiers capture free blacks, just like he had his bounty hunters do, and bring them South, and turned them into slaves.

Yes, that Lee. 



Lee kept, in  his own handwriting, records so detailed Pryor can tell us the average prices he paid, and specific prices Lee paid for certain girls. And  how much he paid which bounty hunter, for which slave.

Yes, Lee had bounty hunters, and many escaped slaves.  At any one time, Lee might have 12 escaped slaves being chased by his hunters. Lee paid the highest bounties for certain girls, less bounty for males.

Why not just show us the pages?  Why not be candid about it, she coyly mentions it, as if these slave bounties, whipping, and bounty hunters are a minor issue.   For a man who supposedly was anti slavery, didn't own any slaves, and was kind to his wife's slaves (supposedly), the fact he paid to have slaves chased and whipped could have been the first chapter, and second, and third, and she should have been candid about it.

But remember, Pryor worked WITH the Lee family, and the Virginia Historical Society.  She worked with papers they controlled, they chose her.  She was not on a mission to tell the candid truth.  I give her credit for getting any of the horrors in, and she did. Coyly, but she did get them in.

She got in rapes, tortures, bounty hunters.  She got in the massive desertions by Lee's troops (2/3 of Confederate soldiers deserted Lee's army, according to Jeff Davis at the time, another little fact not taught today).  She got in the white looking slave girls, and Lee's record of them.   

 Yes, she should have shown us the ledgers, or some of the pages.  Of course.  But Pryor refused to even call them slave ledgers, she calls them "monthly account books".  That's where she got much of the information in her book about slaves -- she didn't dream it up, she didn't rely on the myths.  The number, prices, bounties, escapes, and torture (torture is the right word) are some of the things Lee kept track of in his slave ledgers.

No, not Lee's slave ledgers.
Pryor avoids even calling  Lee's slave ledgers by their common name. 

Most slave owners likely burned their slave ledgers,  and no slave ledgers now exist for any famous Confederate leaders.

Except for Lee.  The Lee family has his slave ledgers, and much more.   Lee probably would have burned his slave ledgers and dirty letters, if he could get to them.  But  the Union army overtook Arlington, and stored all the family property, and politely gave it all back to the Lee family, after the war.  

  The Lee family never made them public -- and still haven't, other than this highly refined, highly stylized, highly colored "portrait" by Pryor, using those papers.

The point is -- Lee had slave ledgers, and Pryor studied them.  She could, and did, compare his letters and ledgers to what we know from the Lee Myth -- what we are told in text and history books.

Turns out, we were not told much, if anything, candid.

So detailed are his slave ledgers that Pryor can tell which day Lee paid which bounty hunter, for who he paid, and the price for bounties.

Those aren't "account books".   She could have titled the book "LEE'S SLAVE LEDGERS".  

At least she could have used the candid term, "slave ledgers".  But Pryor obliquely  referred to them, as if it were an afterthought, as "monthly account books".  

Smooth move.   But imagine if she said "SLAVE LEDGERS"?   They were slave ledgers, but clearly she wasn't going to make that clear, much less emphasize it.



So Christ like was Lee, we are told, that sermons about his religious brilliance are given to this day. He was the most perfect Christian, the most faithful husband, the most devout, the most chaste, on and on.

In Douglas Freeman's biography of Lee, has has four columns of adjetcives describing human positive quality.  Essentially, he sets out to prove Lee was THE MOST at each one. He was not just chaste, but the most chaste.  He was not just prayerful, he was the most prayerful.

On and on.  In fact, some people, even though they don't realize Freeman is lying his ass off in every page, grow weary of praise in nearly every sentence.

Lee's tomb is in a church.  People are hushed, and pay respect like they would to a saint.

Yet in real life, Lee not only had slaves tortured, but according to overlapping reports, he screamed at slave girls WHILE he had them whipped.  He sold children, and he paid bounty hunters to kidnap free women and children in the North, and turned them into slaves.

That's quite apart from his treason and fighting against the US, contrary to his oath of office.  Lee's oath, which he took several times upon each promotion, was to the PRESIDENT personally, and in the oath, he is sworn to report or arrest anyone who may have designs or plans against the PRESIDENT.  

Other Southern officers resigned -- rather than be involved in plans to secede or revolt.  Davis was already conspiring with military men, for a planned coup -- a violent take over of government -- if Lincoln dared showed up to take office.  His own wife told this to their  housekeeper, about Lee's plan for a possible coup.

Lee would not have even thought of doing such a coup, without the blessing of Robert E Lee. While no one can find written evidence (Pryor may have it, however) that Lee and Davis exchanged letters about the possible coup, certainly Davis and Lee were close.  And Lee stayed in US uniform for months,  after Davis made the plans for a coup (which never happened). 

After the war, a reporter asked Lee about his oath to the President, from before the Civil War.  Lee, lying, said he could not exactly recall if he took that oath.  Of course he took it, and of course he knew, taking that oath was a "big deal".  Rather than lie bluntly, Lee did the clever thing "I can not recall".  Bullshit.

But the facts of the slave torture, the bounty, the cruelties, and the dirty letters, are not conjecture whatsoever. Lee wrote about them.  If Pryor would release the papers, or the Lee family would release them, we'd probably see things that would make your skin crawl.  Hard to tell.

Those are facts in his own handwriting, in his own papers.  They are not accusations, quite the reverse, Pryor is doing all she can to slide the horrors in, within a flattering narrative. 

His main biographer stated, Lee  now sits "at the right hand of Christ his Lord". That's right, Lee is at the right hand of the Lord in heaven. That is how amazing  he was.

Uh -- not so much.


Pryor never blames Lee for anything -- even the whippings he ordered are somehow the girls fault for trying to escape.  Pryor writes "they tested Lee".   She only lets you know later, the "testing" was trying to escape!  Some test!

 And then in another section of the book, she inserts that rapes were common at Arlington, and "coersion was used in those situations".

At one point, Pryor describes "dalliances" between "races"
Only later do we learn from her, rape was common, and forced AT ARLIGNTON.
"Coercion was used in those situations"


Early in the book, Pryor sets the tone for the "race mixing" as a "dalliance" issue.   But later, in the cleverly written later chapters, she tells us "coercion was used in those situations"  Coercion was used?  Notice the passive tense.

 Coercion is a soft word for force, and we are talking about rape of girls, young girls, by white men at Arlington. Pryor could have titled a chapter "RAPES OF ARLINGTON SLAVE GIRLS" -- but she was working with, literally with, the Lee family and Virginia Historical society.  The amazing thing is, she got in any mention of the rapes into her book, at all.


Make no mistake -- Pryor adores Lee, her narrative is extremely flattering overall. She opens the book with a long self serving letter from Lee.  As you will see, Lee was a wordsmith, he  had a way of claiming religious motives for anything, including slavery and torture -- yes, torture.

Ms Pryor is  deliberate in how she relates facts such as rapes at Arlington, the color of Lee's favorite slave girl, and Lee's purchase of freed blacks -- yes freed blacks -- from bounty hunters, captured illegally in the North.

No one alive at the time would have been surprised at Lee's papers -- slave owners had slaves whipped, they paid for bounties,  they sold children.   Lee's crop at Arlington was not food, or cotton, it was SLAVES.

You didn't know that, did you?  

Lee tried immediately, when he took over managment of the slaves (meaning, essentially, their punishment) to squeeze more money out of the slaves.  Slave owners, like Lee  justified not just slavery, but the torture -- yes torture is the right word -- of slaves as ordained by God. 

Do unto others, and do unto the least of these, did not apply to slaves, who were "inferior beings" and "intended" by God to feel "painful discipline" said Lee.   Pain, he specifically wrote, was "necessary for their instruction". 

ANd there is much more in Lee's letters that Pryor is coyly keeping to herself, but gives us a glimpse, such as Lee wanted sick slave children to "die quickly"  and regularly separated children from their mother.

That was standard fare, for slave owners,  and Lee was no exception, in fact, he was more cruel than most, not less cruel. Lee had one weapon, one tool, to use for slaves -- pain.  But that was the backbone of slavery, if you ran away, you were tortured. If you didn't work hard, you were tortured. 

Lee's father had a slave girl hung for knocking down a white man -- no one even bothered to record WHY she knocked down a white man, didn't matter if the slave girl was being raped, beaten, or her child taken, a slave that caused injury to a white man could be hung, and that is exactly what Lee's father did to a slave girl, when Lee was young.


Lee was not your run of the mill slave owner. First of all, he had more, second of all, he had the largest number of light skinned, or lighter skinned slave girls.  Pryor states "over half" of Lee's slaves were mulatto. Pryor writes about the rapes at Arlington, and though she tried to gloss over it, she seemed incensed that "whites were increasingly enslaving other whites".

As of enslaving blacks was not a big deal.   Seriously, it seemed to bother Pryor when lighter skinned girls were enslaved, raped, whipped.  But when it was dark skinned slaves, and slave girls, Pryor writes that they "tested Lee"  and that Lee had "every right"  to protect his property.

Pryor can't make up her mind if slavery is vile, or just when you have white looking slaves from the rapes. 

Lee was the ONLY person in US history to order the capture of free civilians in enemy territory, to be chained, taken out of their country, and sold as slaved.   Lee did that. Yes, he did.

But Lee did that same thing BEFORE the war, via bounty hunters.  Pryor is probably her most Orwellian in her attempt to gloss over the horror -- she writes about Lee's bounty hunters capturing escaped slaves in the North, but also "casually" mentions "others" the hunters brought to Lee. 

Pryor, in a shameful episode, claims Lee "may have technically broke the law"   by "not filling out the time consuming paper work".  Stripped of the Orwellian double speak, Pryor is showing that Lee's hunters found free women and children in the North -- NOT escaped slaves at all (which is bad enough) and they were kidnapped, brought back to Lee, and enslaved.

You might not have known about this issue, at all, and no one, till Pryor, had information that Lee himself enriched himself by this despicable kidnapping. Is kidnapping any worse than buying slaves other ways?

 Is the whip any less painful?  Is the horror any less  extreme for the slave?  Who knows, but Lee did this, during the Civil War, and before.

"Historians" have known of Lee's tortures and cruelties for 150 years, but they never mentioned them in books, especially text books. 

Nor was the torture "story" a one time event.  Turns out, Pryor was able to see enough evidence in Lee's papers, to pronounce carefully that Lee's PREFERRED method of torture was the whip.   He had other methods.  Pryor didn't dream this up, she is doing her level best to gloss over it, based on what's in his own handwritten papers ledgers and letters. 

Slavery was not a pretty thing, contrary to how it was presented as a compassionate enterprise, it was not.  There were rapes -- lots of rapes -- even at Arlington.   There was torture, and bounty hunters, and public whippings of girls -- even at Arlington.

If there was a kind slave owner, Lee was not it.

It goes beyond torture of slaves -- much beyond. Lee sold children, or otherwise separated them from their mother.   It was illegal in most areas to even tell a child who its father was, and the rapes by white men were so numerous, it was hard to even know who the father was.

 In newspapers at the time, before the Civil War, are reports of Lee's torture of slave girls, too young to be whipped by an overseer.  The whipping of a slave did not make the papers, but this event did because the girl was so  young!

According to at least three newspapers, at the time, Lee had  slaves whipped for trying to escape. That was not news. But this time, a girl was too young to whip, in the opinion of the overseer, the man who whipped slaves.

The overseer refused to obey Lee -- just refused.   Lee was irate, and hired a bounty hunter, who watched the tortures, to whip her.
Lee yelled at the girl all through her torture.  Then Lee had salt brine poured on her back for more pain.

That was in the newspapers, at least three.  No one disputes that the story made the paper.

If Pryor did nothing else, from her study of his slave ledgers and papers, she admits Lee's own papers in his handwriting, unquestionably validate the story, because the names Lee wrote down in his ledgers, were for the dates mentioned, and the slaves mentioned.  Pryor could have shown that page, but she did not.  She did however, rather strongly, admit the claims were validated by Lee's own handwritten record.  

What's more, Lee wrote corroborating details in his own slave ledgers  -- the names of the bounty hunters, and the prices he paid for the slave capture, on that date. 

 No, Pryor will not show us those pages from Lee's slave ledgers, she does everything to gloss over this event, but does say the torture story is  "undoubtledly based on fact"  because Lee wrote enough details, and he had slaves whipped other times, too.  In fact, Lee defended the torture of slaves, the "painful discipline"  as something God wanted. 

Pain, Lee wrote, was "necessary for their instruction"  and it was not up to man to question God's directives.    This was hardly unique to Lee, as virtually every slave owner did that exact mental gymnastics when whipping slaves.  

Frederick Douglass slave master -- the man that raped his mother  and was his biological father -- whipped a slave woman to death while shouting scriptures.   So compared to that level of barbarity, Lee was moderate.  But he still had slaves whipped, hunted, and tortured by other means.

Brush away Pryor's excuses and clever attempts to minimize, or blame the slave girls, that's what happened. Lee tortured slaves. 

  Lee's slaves risked their lives and risked torture to flee.  Freeman lied his ass off, and he knew he lied his ass off (see below).

So pervasive is the "Lee Myth" that schools are named after him, and we are told -- in "history" books no less, that Lee "now sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord".

Twenty five years ago, Alan Nolan wrote that we "need to start over" about Lee, because the "scholarship" about his was so adorational (my word, not a real word) it was not trustworthy. 

 Only, Nolan had  no idea  how right he was.

The actual evidence -- from Lee himself -- shows Lee had slave girls whipped, sold children, and paid bounty hunters to not only find escaped slaves, but to bring him free black women and children, his hunters found in the North.  Lee turned these folks INTO slaves.  

You heard right.  And there is much more. 

Not that Lee is so much worse than other slave owners -- slavery was a vile enterprise, founded on threats and violence. Slave owners who allowed slaves to resist being a slave, were soon not slave owners.   If there were any "kind" slave owners, however, Lee was not one of them, as shown overwhelmingly by papers and payments and letters in Lee's private papers. 

The Lee family trunks -- shown above with Elizabeth Pryor and the
Lee family -- have a few surprises.

Pryor is very careful HOW she tells it -- she does not "tell it like it is" but she tells it, just the same, using euphemism, even Orwellian double talk -- but she tells it, within her otherwise flattering narrative.

Lee's own papers -- kept largely in two trunks by the Lee family --were not made available to the public, and still have not been shown.

Historians knew about the trunks of papers, for generations, but most assumed (incorrectly) that the Lee Myth was valid and would be proved again, by those papers.



Pryor was able to tell us, using Orwellian double speak, that Lee paid more for slave girls, to bounty hunters.  She does not tell us why.  But we know Lee didn't pay 600% more of a girl, because she could carry 600% more water, or plant 600% more potatoes.

Slave girls -- especially lighter skinned slave girls -- were prized, and everyone knew it.   They sold well at auction, according to newspapers at the time. A "comely" light skin slave girl was an asset.

Pryor knows that too, but she isn't going to tell you about it.  No, we don't know WHY Lee paid so much more for girls. But at least Pryor got in the fact, however artfully, that he did. 

Supposedly, Lee's slaves loved him so much, when he supposedly freed them, they wouldnt leave!  That's the kind of "fact" presented time and again about Lee.

But in Lee's own papers is clear evidence that Lee's slaves hated him, in fact, called him "the worst man we ever knew".   Pryor tells that carefully -- not candidly, but she gets it in. Lee regularly separated mothers from their children, once he took over.   As Pryor regresses into Orwellian double speak, she essentially admits Lee's cruelties -- including whipping and separating mothers from children.

Far from being anti slavery, or freeing anyone, Lee bought more slaves, and bought them from bounty hunters -- including purchase of women and children (Pryor just calls them "others") who were NOT escaped slaves, but caught in the North by his bounty hunters.

Pryor is sometimes hilarious -- perhaps writing to mollify the Lee family, who she worked with, side by side at times.  She writes about the reasons Lee's slaves (yes, Lee's slaves) tried so often and hard to escape, even though they would be hunted down and whipped, and other tortures used.    She wrote "The slaves did not fully agree with Lee's theory of labor management".   

The most amazing thing -- by far -- about Lee's papers, is Lee wrote it down, himself. He wrote his slave ledgers, which Pryor had, apparently, though she called them account books.

Letters to, or from, Lee, plus his slave ledgers, allows Pryor, a scholar, to correlate times, dates, prices, whippings, bounties, and names.  She COULD have been much more specific and candid -- in fact, other than omitting the horrors entirely, she could not have been less candid.  

But she got the information out, if in careful terms, including the horrors, the rapes, the whippings, the bounties, and the tortures. Yes, tortures -- whipping is torture, but Lee had other tortures, ON TOP of whipping, worse than whipping.  

That's one of many absurd Orwellian level conceits in Pryor's writing.

 Pryor is perhaps the least Orwellian, almost candid, when she admits  Lee owned his own slaves, and did NOT free the slaves until after repeated court orders, and he appealed those orders!  That's right, Lee owned his own, and fought the repeated Court orders to free the slaves.   

Oh you thought we knew all about Lee?  No, we knew the myth.

Apparently Lee only "freed" the slaves he could not rent out or sell, well into the Civil War, when basically he could no longer derive profit from the few he could account for.  

Far from freeing his wife's slaves, Lee resisted repeated court orders to obey the will, and order of the Court!   Pryor never mentions who sued Lee -- someone had to sue him, to get this matter in court.  Who sued him?  Pryor does not say, but she had the papers, and she could have easily told us.

Regardless who brought suit for Lee to free the slaves, Lee owned other slaves BESIDES those, in addition to those slaves  his wife owned. And if that were not enough, Lee bought more slaves -- and he bought free women and children too, that were never slaves before.  

So Lee had three separate "sources" of slave flesh: his wife's slaves, the people Lee bought and turned into slaves, and slaves Lee paid bounty for -- cash prizes.

That's an astonishing set of facts for ANY slave owner -- buying women and children that were living free in the North.    But these are facts in Lee's papers  - a man who supposedly "detested slavery" and freed his wife's slaves.

Plus, a fourth source, the birth of children to his slave girls -- Lee owned those too.  A man who didn't own slaves?  He actually had the largest number of slaves.  A man against slavery?  He actually pushed quite hard to make more profit from slaves, and resisted court orders to free the slaves that were listed in his father in law's will.

And he bought more.  Against slavery? 




If the price he paid for girls is any indication, and of course it is, Lee was very much focused on the capture and control of female slaves, far more than he cared about male slaves.

Yes, she should have shown us the actual slave ledgers, the actual sexually explicit letters, the actual reports of payments to bounty hunters, etc.   But she was not telling "the truth, the whole truth" -- she was telling the story the Lee family and Virginia Historical society wanted her to tell.

Still, the horrors, the tortures, the rapes, the slave ledgers, were too big to hide, even for Ms Pryor, even for one person, even for a Lee devotee.  She did the best she could to keep the halo upon his head.

But Pryor quotes a black man, in EBONICS -- in the supposed vernacular of the day,  "Lord chil, dat's wuz common" -- and tells of men sleeping apart from the women, because if the men tried to stop the rapes, they were whipped.  This was at ARLINGTON. Information about it, was in Lee's papers.

Lee's slave girls were raped, and tried to escape. Yes, that happened.  Pryor says artfully, "there is no evidence"  Lee himself participated in such activity.  The point is, slavery is a vile enterprise, and someone raped the girls, because over half -- yes over half -- of Lee's slaves were mulatto, NOT dark skinned black slaves.

   In a candid sentence, she might write "according to letters Lee received, his son forced a slave girl to satisfy him sexually, and five other slave girls reported to Mrs Lee of similar forcible rapes".

The point is this -- SOMETHING in Lee's papers made Pryor aware of the force someone  used in rapes.   

Pryor didn't dream it, Pryor didn't get it from a text book, she got it from Lee's own papers.  She could have told us the basic facts -- who was raped, who was alledged to have done the raping, and what did Lee's papers show about it?

No -- she didn't reveal it that way. Instead, Pryor first posits "dalliances" between "the races"  as if these were romantic encounters.  Dalliances?  Really?  Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had a dalliance.   Pryor had to think long and  hard about what clever misdirectional word to use.  She chose "dalliance".

But later, she does give more information, as cleverly and artfully as possible "Coercion was used". 

And Pryor does that, throughout the book.  She does not draw attention the horrors and tortures Lee caused himself, repeatedly.  She does the opposite, she puts on the Orwellian razzle dazzle.

But at least she gets it in -- artfully, shamefully Orwellian -- but she gets it in. 

Pryor is like Lee's attorney, admitting as little as possible in candid ways. But she also considers herself a "scholar" and held his papers, studies his papers, for weeks, perhaps months.

Pryor held the papers Lee wrote  -- remember that.

She had  his slave ledgers, and letters to him, and from him, in her hands for weeks on end.  She studied them, correlated the slave ledgers chronologically to newspaper reports and letters.   So when Pryor writes "Coersion was used in those situations" -- that's as mild and as blame free as a human can report it, while mentioning it at all.

Now remember, Pryor did not have video of Lee and Arlington, she had his papers.  And she adores Lee, she was vetted by Lee family and Virginia Historical society BECAUSE she was a Lee devotee.  They did not pick her for her candor.

Get this -- she got her information FROM Lee's own papers, not from someone trying to make Lee look bad, not from someone smearing Lee.   She got this information from Lee's own papers.

Like this one - that Lee's slaves reported he "was the worst man we ever saw".  The myth is, of course, that Lee had no slaves, but if he did, they loved him!  But the facts, in Lee's own papers, show, Lee's slaves said he was the worst man they ever knew.

Maybe Lee's slaves hated him, and so many tried to escape long before the Civil War (Pryor says Lee had "epidemics" of run aways, 12 at a time, including light skinned slave girls who escaped. You heard right -- lighter skinned slave girls.

And Lee "separated" mothers from children regularly.

So the woman could have been whipped, raped, and her children taken from her.   But Pryor acts as if the girls "tested Lee"!!

By Pryor's narrative, the girls had no right to escape, LEE had "every right" to protect his property!  Pryor does not write it in such blunt terms, but that is exactly what she is implying.  

Hilariously, if it wasn't so true, Lee saw himself as the long suffering one, and wrote to his wife that slaves were lucky to be slaves!  Lee and his wife were both mad at the slaves for not appreciating them!!  Did they not feed the slaves (no).  Did they not give the slaves their old clothes (yes).   Did they not give the slave religion so they wouldn't go to hell?  

This is how Lee's saw it -- the slaves should be GRATEFUL!

Pryor doesn't go quite that far -- she likely would if she was writing at the time.

That kind of mental gymnastics is common of sociopaths, to blame the victim, and insist the oppressor, the slave owner, was the injured person. You don't have girls whipped, sell children, and get rich while others are tormented and terrorized, unless you get your head right and use denial and, in Lee's case, religious justification.

Who's fault the rapes were (see below)  Pryor doesn't touch with a ten foot pole.


Pryor claims the tortures (whippings) were the result of Lee's "poor cross cultural communication skills".   Seriously, she wrote that. Pryor wrote it was "due to Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".  Uh huh. Orwell anyone?

 How does she know that?  She just does.  He tortured them because of his cross cultural communication skills.   People are too stupid, frankly, to stop reading at that point, including reviewers, and ask "how do you know"?

So it could not possibly be Lee enjoyed whipping girls, it could not possibly be he was a cruel man who grew up watching slaves whipped, and demanded obedience from slave girls especially. No, that could not be it. No way.  Hell no.

It was a cross cultural thing.  

As if Lee could speak a bit better Ebonics, he wouldn't have to whip them.    Pryor had to say something, to convince her own mind, that Lee was not a dirty, mean man.   So it was a communication issue, she claimed.

Lee whipped the girls NOT because he was angry, NOT because he wanted those girls at his beck and call, NOT because he wanted the profit from selling light skinned girls. No, none of that!!   He whipped them because of his poor cross cultural communication skills.

See the problem?  But at least she admits he had slave girls whipped, and paid bounty hunters. 

See how goofy you have to get to defend slavery -- and a slave owner?  She "forgets" to mention Lee's father had slave girl hung for knocking down a white man: no one bothered to record why she knocked him down, maybe he was whipping her, maybe he was raping her (see below) maybe he was taking her child.  It did not matter why a slave might use force against a white man, the penalty was death or torture.


The false narrative of Lee's kindness (he was actually cruel) mirrors and represents the goofy myth of kind slave owners.   Slavery was a violent enterprise -- as Lee showed, maybe, just maybe, some slave owners treated slaves humanely, unless they resisted being slaves!!

If you tried to escape -- whipping. If you fought back against rape -- whipping.  If you used force against a white man -- death.   

Lee defended that in writing -- claiming pain "was necessary for their instruction" and that God intended slaves to feel "painful discipline".

IF he were more candid, he would have written "Of course we whip and torture them if they try to escape."  Because that is exactly what  he did. His words were cruel enough, but when you know what he did, and did often, and defended as the will of God,  you might get a grasp of how cruel he was, because he was. 

Only a sociopath, or a defender of a sociopath, will blame a girl for trying to escape a place she could be raped and enslaved -- yet brush away the Orwellian double talk. Pryor is, when you get honest about it, defending a man who tortured girls and screamed at them during their torture. And she attributes that to "poor cross cultural communication skills".

Shame on her, and the bastards who reviewed her book, and didn't point that out.  What are they doing?  Do they think Lee is going to get pissed about it?  He is dead, you know.


Pryor does NOT use the excuse Lee himself used -- it was God's will slaves be whipped!  Yes, Lee actually wrote that slaves MUST endure pain, pain is necessary for their instruction.

You heard right PAIN IS NECESSARY  -- and God intends it.  Pryor could not use Lee's excuse, that's been discredited.  So to use another, that might fool stupid people today, Lee's tortures were "a result of poor cross cultural communication".

Pryor also blames the girls -- not Lee.  Lee had "communication issues" -- the girls were bad. Not Lee's fault.  The rapes?  Not Lee's faults.   The dirty letters?  She doesn't say whose fault those were, probably those women that he sent them to, it had to be their fault.

Pryor claims  Lee "had every right" to protect his property.  So the slave girl had no rights to protect her body, her child, or her freedom.

And no, not everyone did this, as Lee did. In fact, most people alive in 1861 would not torture a slave, female or male, young or own.   Slave owners were less than 6% of the population, but they were nearly 100% of the political and economic power in the South -- a fact our text books never do speak of, and of course, they don't tell of Lee's tortures.

 Like Lee not only owned his own slaves, he was cruel to slaves, and defended the pain he inflicted upon disobedient slave girls as God's will. God intended slaves, Lee wrote  including girls, to feel "painful discipline"  -- pain was necessary for their instruction. Those are Lee's words, pain is necessary for their instruction.

And what instructions!  Turns out, Lee regularly used the whip, or had it used, but he had other physical tortures, according to his own handwritten papers.

And torture is the right word.


Bet you didn't know that.

And that's not all.   Lee also bought slaves himself, even bought women and children that his bounty hunters found in the North, that were not slaves -- ever.   But Lee made them into slaves, after his hunters brought them South and sold them to Lee.

Little things like that.

Lee would do the same thing DURING the Civil War, by the way, only he had his soldiers capture free blacks in the North.   But Lee did that before the Civil War, quite against the law, and quite cruelly.  Apparently, capture of freed blacks in the North was a profitable business, both to the bounty hunter, and the slave master who bought the women and children.

DO you think a light skinned slave girl could pick 600% more cotton? Do you think she could carry 600% more water?   Do you think Lee just enjoyed her views on literature, 600% more?

Pryor doesn't dare tell us WHY Lee paid so much extra for her, the amazing thing is, that she told us at all.   But when you find out Lee wrote sexually explicit letters all his life to various women, you may figure out why Lee would paid so much more.  

What does the evidence show -- what Lee himself wrote down? Not some slave, not some "historian" not some bystander, but Lee himself, in his own ledgers, in his own letters, in his own bounty payments. 

Yes, Pryor and the Lee family SHOULD have shown the actual dirty letters and actual slave ledgers.  That is what Pryor had in her hands -- and she is the only one in 150 years allowed to study those papers.   You are about to find out why they picked her.

Pryor, nor the Lee family, wanted to destroy the Lee myths, but for three generations now,  "news" of these two trunks of papers filled people's minds with eagerness to see them.     Finally, the Lee family let Pryor -- and only Pryor -- actually study them.

Pryor did the best job she could, given her constraints.  

In Lee's OWN papers -- remember that -- is evidence of rapes, whippings, and cruelties.   These are surprising to hear about anyone, much less about Lee himself, and even more amazing, Lee boasted of aspects of it.  

Lee was not ashamed of whipping slave girls -- he did it publically, and defended it in letters to his wife.   He did not call it or consider it torture, but "instruction" -- and ordained by God. Or at least, that was the line he used to pacify his wife, who actually owned most of the slaves, and grew up with them.

Lee's wife was not used to hearing from her slaves about the tortures -- that did not start until Lee took over.   Pryor defends this -- she is always on Lee's side  -- as necessary to "protect" Lee's property!  She also claims the slave girls "tested Lee" .

Further absurdly, Pryor blames the tortures not on Lee's cruelty, but on his "poor cross cultural communication skills"  -- as if he could just speak in Ebonics or convince the slaves to obey his words, he would not have to whip them.  Literally, she has no blame for Lee -- except when it gets to white looking slave girls (see below).

These are dark skinned slaves.  Over half of Lee's slaves were mulatto,
Lee owned some slaves that could pass for whi



Lee wrote sexually explicit letters for decades, bragged about his son's sexual abilities, and was anything but a kind religious man in many of his writings.

It might be tempting -- and no doubt Pryor hopes we settle for this -- to claim Lee was "more complex" that we thought.  But his handwritten papers, ledgers, and letters, show a cruel man, vengful, hateful, contemptuous of others, glad of their suffering, and eager for profit from his slaves. 

And we have not yet discussed Lee's high prices for certain girls.  We will, however. 

What did Lee write himself?   Pryor is clever about revealing his words verbatim,  she quotes him when it flatters Lee.   When it's about  torture, rape, sales, dirty letters, she is careful to use passive voice, and make it as unnoticeable as possible, that these are LEE's own papers, LEE's own words, Lee's own records.

When discussing the rapes -- see below -- she admits forcible rape was common!! But she does so by quoting, the only time in the book she does this, in Ebonics!   She could have titled the chapter "Rapes at Arlington" because that's what the subject was.  But she "buries the lead" -- she gets it in, but in a disarming way.

Facts are stubborn things. 

The adoration of Lee is based on "facts"  that never were true -- that he owned no slaves for one example.  That his "servants" loved him, according to Douglas Southall Freeman.

But Lee most certainly did own slaves, and bought more, from bounty hunters no less.   Lee is the only known soldier in US history to have women captured during war, and sold as slaves.  Lee ordered his Confederate soldiers to capture FREE PEOPLE in the North (black people) and take them South to be sold. 

But he bought black people that were free, before the Civil War, too, not just in the CIvil War.   See below about how Pryor gets that doozie in.

We are told he was kind to "servants". 

 Utter nonsense, in Lee's papers are letters that reveal his slaves said he was "the worst man we ever knew".     Plus, Lee's slaves, many dozens of them apparently (Pryor is coy, and won't give us a number, she just says an "epidemic" of escape attempts.)

Pryor COULD tell us how many tried to escape, and how many were caught.   Do you think Lee wrote down "Had an epidemic of escape attempts today"? No -- PRYOR saw whatever Lee wrote, and told us, in her slick Orwellian way, that Lee's slaves tried to escape.   Why not just show us, why not just tell us what he wrote?  Because she is trying to save as much of the myth as possible, that's why.

Also Lee had slaves whipped, and used other tortures on them -- including various tortures (torture is the correct word) on slave girls.

Furthermore, Lee taunted slaves before he had them whipped, and screamed at them during their torture.  Sound like a kind man to you?

Lee's payments to bounty hunters -- much higher payments for escaped girls -- is but one of the many surprises in Lee's slave ledgers. 

Yes, bounty hunters, yes, escaped slaves, yes, slave girls Lee paid to have captured, and whipped.

What "biographers" have told us, it turns out, was little more than repetition of myths made up in the decades following Lee's death.  The factual record -- most importantly Lee's own slave ledgers and 10,000 letters to or from Lee -- show a cruel man, a sexual man, a man who would write his wife excuses for whipping slaves with flowery religious rhetoric, but pay bounty hunters and scream at slaves as he had them whipped.

It's time to start over on Lee -- this time, pay attention to facts. 

 Lee owned his own slaves -- and "managed" his wive's slaves.  And by "manage" it's clear from his slave ledgers, Lee sold, bought, and rented out slaves, including slave children.  

In fact, Lee's papers show Lee's slave said "he was the worst man we ever met."

The "Lee didn't own slaves" myth never appeared until after he died,  and Lee would have thought that was funny.

Lee was actually proud of his "discipline" of slaves --and insisted slaves were lucky to be slaves, he was the one burdened.   His slaves were whipped, their children sold, but they were lucky.   Lee wrote to his wife that slaves were better off as slaves, rather than live in Africa.

But none of Lee's slaves ever saw Africa, regardless if they were better off. They were born slaves here, many had white fathers, as (you will see) rape of slave women was common.

You probably never heard that the skin tone of the slaves born after 1850 or so, especially on Lee's slave plantation, was a "big deal"   Lee's letters show women writing to him -- women at Arlington -- complaining about the light skinned slave children.   

Pryor doesn't show the letters, of course, but give her credit. Just showing that Lee had letters from women complaining about the light skinned slave babies, is amazing, in itself. No one -- NO ONE -- has ever even hinted that slaves were often light skinned, and that grew to be a very big issue.   How light did they have to be to not be slaves?

Lee wrote about one slave female, who HE said could almost pass for white.  And light skinned slaves women (called "comely") were sold at action at a premium -- much better prices.

While Pryor doesn't mention this, the reason light skinned slave girls sold for higher prices, is that at auction, they were bought, and bidded upon, by whore house owners.  Yes, they were.  Or some white rich man just wanted his own slave for his own purposes, and he prefered the lighter skin.

You didn't know that was an issue, did you? Well it was, and it was an issue to Lee himself, because he paid more for light skinned slave girls!

Do you think Lee paid more by accident?

Lee not only had slaves whipped, he used other tortures.  What other torture?  The use of salt brine, after whipping, was intensely painful, and witnesses said Lee did it to increase pain, without increasing number of disfiguring scars on the woman's back.

Yes, Lee used salt brine on wounds.   Lee wrote that God intended slaves feel pain, pain "is necessary for their instruction." So Lee could just tell himself, and his wife, God ordained this, it's not up to us to second guess God.

And his wife was so stupid, frankly, she believed it.  Lee, though, never believed it, as you will see.

Lee owned and or managed the largest number of slaves in Virginia, AND he bought more, including his purchase of women and children that were living free in the North, that Lee's bounty hunters captured while looking for escaped slaves.   Let's be clear -- Lee bought FREE women and children that were not slaves, were not escaped slaves, but were living legally and free in the North.  Wait till you see how Pryor "relates" than stunner.

In fact, Newspapers before the Civil War reported cruelties at Arlington -- at least three newspapers we know of, reported the overseer at Lee's plantation refused to whip one slave girl for her attempted escape. She was too young to whip!

So the "fact base" about Lee was never right, not since 1880's anyway, Lee was actually a cruel slaver.   Rather that free anyone, Lee bought women and children from bounty hunters, according to his own ledgers.

Rather than kindness, Lee had slaves whipped, including young slaves, and including slaves the overseer refused to whip because of her young age.

Yeah, that Lee.  Yeah, his own slave ledgers. 
These are dark skinned slaves.  Over half of Lee's slaves were mulatto,
Lee owned some slaves that could pass for whi

We have to start over about Lee --the myths about Lee, that he was anti slavery, kind, brave, and freed his wife's slaves, turns out to be silly, if not obscene.  If anything, Lee was a cruel slave master, and fought court orders to free slaves his wife owned.

Who said?  Lee's own slave ledgers and sexually explicit letters do -- letters and ledgers kept by the family for 150 years,  in two trunks, saved, ironically by the Union Army.  Finally, the Virginia Historical Society, and Lee family allowed one person -- and only one -- to study the ledgers and letters at length.

They made sure the "scholar" was a Lee devotee -- but even then, the horrors and surprise, were too big to hide.   


Pryor tries to keep Lee's halo upon his head. She is not out to destroy him, or even call his myth into question.   But what she held in her hands -- Lee's original slave ledgers, court orders, and even sexually explicit letters, were not the sort of thing Pryor could simply omit.  She told us about the horrors -- torture for example, and rapes at Arlington, and white looking slave girls -- as carefully as possible.

Nolan told us we need to "start over"
about Lee, 25 years ago.
He had no clue how correct he was.

Pryor told us, but in a way that didn't shock us -- her overall narrative is flattering.  She uses Orwellian double talk and clever understatement, to get the horrors in-- but she got them in.

Horrors to Pryor was not the whipping -- though she gets that in.   Horrors were not even selling children and buying women and children from bounty hunters that were not escaped slaves, but free women and children.   That was okay with her too.

Pryor reserves the word" horror" for Lee's white looking slaves.  Oh you didn't know that, did you?

Turns out, Lee had the highest number of lighter skinned slaves in US!   Over half his slaves (yes, his slaves) were mulatto.  Some were so white looking, Lee himself, and letters to him, commented on it.

White looking slave girls?  White looking slave children!   That was a horror to Pryor.

Pryor didn't seem bothered by the whipping of dark skinned girls, or selling or buying dark skin folks.  But wow, did she get upset when reviewing the letters from and to Lee about white- looking slaves.  Yeah, that's bad!   Whipping and selling blacks, not a big deal to Pryor.  Whipping and selling light skinned folks who could almost pass for white  -- WOW, thats horrible!

But Pryor is artful  --  she reveals in Orwellian double speak, within a flattering narrative.


For example Pryor doesn't even call the slave ledgers by their names -- she calls them monthly account books, and refers to them as that exactly once.   Disingenuous?  Of course, but necessary -- she worked literally under the gaze, and by permission, of the Virginia Historical Society and Lee family, which essentially exists to praise Lee.

Likely if Pryor used the word slave ledgers, the Lee family would have had a cow, and the Virginia Historical society would have escorted her off the property and put her picture up on the guardhouse, to prevent her return.

But the slave ledgers -- er, account books -- show the prices Lee paid, the bounties paid, the income received, and disposition of the slaves.  So detailed are the slave ledgers that Pryor can, and did, correlate Lee's payments to bounty hunters, to news stories at the time about Lee's torture (torture is the right word) of slave's his bounty hunters captured.

So with skill, Pryor calls them account books.   WHy not show a few pages? Why not show the covers? Lee wrote those words, why not show it?  Instead, Pryor puts in drawing Lee had about a pump.   WHich  would reveal more -- Lee's pump drawing, or Lee's payments to bounty hunters?

Pryor could have shown actual ledgers.
Instead, this is kind of picture
she showed. 

Of course Lee's hand writtten books, showing prices and payments to bounty hunters, receipts for sale and rentals of children and women, would have given a horrible, but true, picture of Lee.  SO Pryor didn't do that.

Still, she mentioned the bounties and "account" books, didn't she?

This is Pryor's "MO" on Lee -- reveal things in a clever understated way, within a narrative as flattering as possible.

Not only are people told  -- in US text books -- falsely, that Lee was anti slavery and kind to freed slaves, historians get giddy with delight when they learn the name of his pet chicken.

So Lee 'freed" his slaves, or his wife's slaves? No, he did not, not until long after repeated court orders to do so. And long after Lee had cashed out as much as possible, until well into the Civil War, when he had no real control of the few slaves he "freed"  and after he refused to obey court oders earlier.  Essentially Lee "freed" a few slaves that were worthless to him anyway.

Remember, it took 150 years for the Lee family to let ONE person see them.  There was a reason for that.

The Lee myth, however, will not endure, the myth will fall as "historians" quit running from the truth about Lee.  Historians have never got hold of Lee yet. Those who repeat and embellish myths are not historians.

In the trunks, were Lee's slave ledgers -- Lee's hand written record of purchases, sales, rentals, bounties for and about SLAVES.  Pryor wouldn't use the honest term, but that's what she had in her hands.

Lee's papers are so detailed, Pryor could determine the names and payments for certain slaves, tell us which day Lee had which slave whipped, and the names of girls he paid for the most for.   That information didn't come to her in a dream.  She got it from Lee's papers.

 She can also tell us the average price for slaves, and which black women and children Lee's bounty hunters found in the NORTH -- free women and children that Lee turned into slaves.  See below.

Yeah, that Lee.

 The slaves "tested"  Lee by trying to escape -- and he responded by violence.  Lee's slaves hated him, if his papers are correct, and called him "the worst man we ever saw".


The temptation is, well, Lee might have been a slave master, but he was no worse than others. Actually, he was.  Lee regularly sold the children away from the mother, and didn't care at all to keep a child with it's mother. He sold, or rented out, the mother or child as benefited him.  Pryor, as in everything she relates about Lee (the the slave ledgers) is careful how she tells you.

Lee left details slave ledgers behind, and his personal letters, sexually explicit letters, to women. Yes, Lee wrote sexually explicit letters. Pryor claims "there is no evidence" Lee did the things in the letters, but how often have you written to women in sexual way that you had no contact that way?   And, Lee did this for decades, even after the Civil War!   Yet his "biographer" Douglas Freeman claimed Lee was "the most chaste" person, the most faithful, the most Christ like, in the South.

Freeman even insisted Lee "is now at the right hand of Christ, his Lord".   And that Lee "had no faults to probe".

Uh huh.

 Most slave owners burned their papers,  Lee probably would have, but he never saw them again to burn them.

Facts are stubborn things.




If anyone thinks rape of slave women was not common, think again. It was common.  Just because Southern slave owners spouted religious rhetoric means nothing -- rapes were common, and there is ample evidence of that in Lee's own papers.

Pryor admits -- again, carefully -- rapes were common, but claims "there is no evidence"  Lee was involved in the common activity.   Turns out, at Arlington, white men would enter the slave quarters at will, and rape women.   If a black man fought back, they could be whipped, so men usually slept apart from women, even apart from their "wives"  so that they would not have to see the rapes, and be humiliated or beaten, or worse, if they fought back.

Not exactly the picture you get while touring Arlington -- that is what went on, and there is evidence of that in Lee's papers.   

 Pryor relates this  carefully, even at Arlington.  Over half of Lee's slaves were mixed blood -- some were white looking.  Who fathered those slaves, Casper?  Do you get that or not?  Someone was impregnating the slave girls at Arlington, so Lee was the father of his own slaves, if he participated.  

Being the father of your own slave was NOT uncommon.  Some fathers treated their children, who were slaves, better, some worse.  Frederick Douglass was one of many slaves fathered by his owner.  Douglass saw a woman whipped to death, by the way, by a man screaming scriptures.

The BS you get about kind slave owners gave birth to the myth of Lee as a kind slave master -- or the other way around.  Either way, neither is true.  Slavery was NOT a kind enterprise, there was violence and rape just beneath the surface, and Southern men were taught it was their right to rape slaves.   See the Southern best seller "Slavery Ordained By God".   And see Lee's own defense of slavery.


Pryor carefully relates that rapes were common -- and that "coersion was used in those situations".   Was used?  Notice the passive voice?   Do you think Lee wrote "Coersion was used in those situations?"   Whatever papers, letters, slave ledgers showed her to make her realize slaves were raped often,  Pryor could have showd that, should have showed that.   In stead, she is again, very careful.  

At one point, Pryor tries to dismiss race mixing by slave owners as "dalliances" between slaves and masters. Dalliance is a term of playful romance, but you can't romance a slave, whip her, and sell her children, and call that a dalliance.  But elsewhere, Pryor fesses up, though she does her best to not make it too obvious she is talking about Lee's papers, and what happened to LEE's slaves. 

Pryor won't show us -- she reports to us about it, but she never shows us anything from the slave ledgers, she "alludes" them cleverly.   She also "alludes" to statements from slaves themselves, at Arlington, that rape was common. Pryor, channeling Owell, says "Coersion was used in those situations".   SO rapes are "situations" and forcible rape was "coersion".  Pryor writes so carefully, you may not notice, especially if you buy her narrative. 



Between the slave ledgers, the letters, and other primary sources, Pryor has so much material, that no one had access too before, only a video crew following Lee around the slave barn and slave auctions, could give us more information.

And Lee wrote it down. 
Pryor even uses Orwellian double talk at times -- and always takes Lee's side. SHe blames the slave girls for their torture (torture is the right word) and says Lee's had every right to "protect"  his property.   Read her closely, though, Lee is "protecting"  his property by whipping girls who would be in 8th grade today. And Lee seemed to enjoy it.


PAIN IS NECESSARY for them, Lee said.  They "must endure it".   And he meant the pain of the whip, plus other tortures.  Pryor tells us the whippings was his prefered way to torture (discipline) slaves -- but he had others.  See Pryor's book for the other tortures.

 No one alive in 1861 said Lee did not own or whip or sell slaves.  Such statements would be nonsense.  The "Lee didn't own slaves" never appeared until after he died,.

In fact, Newspapers before the Civil War reported cruelties at Arlington -- at least three newspapers we know of, reported the overseer at Lee's plantation refused to whip one slave girl for her attempted escape. She was too young to whip!
These are dark skinned slaves.  Over half of Lee's slaves were mulatto,
Lee owned some slaves that could pass for whi

The story made the paper NOT because of whipping slaves, which was common, but the fact the overseer refused, because the girl was too young.  

According to the newspapers -- remember, three of them -- Lee was furious, and paid a bounty hunter, who was in the crowd watching the tortures and had caught the girl,  (yes, they were tortures) to whip the girl when the overseer refused. 

What did Lee yell, over and over, according to several witnesses, at the time?  "Hit her harder, hit her harder" -- apparently the bounty hunter was not hitting her hard enough.

Lee used the vernacular of the day "Lay it on, lay it on" over and over.

Yeah, that Lee. 

Historians have known for 150 years about Lee's tortures, according to newspapers, yet it's not even hinted at in any Lee biography, much less not in US text books.

Lee screamed at the girl all through the torture (again, torture is the right word). Remember, not just one, not just two, but three newspapers reported it, that we know if.  

A crowd witnessed the whippings. 

Pryor, however, checked Lee's letters and slave ledgers for the dates and for the names of the girl whipped. Historians never even told us about those reports -- but Pryor found proof of whippings, in fact, Lee regularly had slaves whipped, so much so that Pryor writes Lee's "preference" for "slave discipline"  was the whip!

And remember, Pryor is trying to keep Lee's halo upon his head.  She bends over backwards on every page to minimize, excuse and gloss over these horrific facts. 

Pryor found validation of those whippings -- in Lee's own handwriting!!   For those dates, and for the names mentioned in the newspaper, Lee wrote in his slave journals amounts  paid for the slave captures, and for the bounty hunter services for, apparently the whipping itself. 

Furthermore, in interviews after the Civil War with Lee's former slaves, those whippings -- and much more -- were confirmed again by witnesses and newspapers.  Lee himself, his own handwritten record, validated those reports. 


Lee was against slavery?  No more absurd myth exists in US history.


The "evidence" that Lee was against slavery, is a letter which, when read it its entirety, is one of the most pernicious defense of slavery, and the torture of slave. 

Yes, one sentence does say slavery is a political and moral evil -- but then it goes on to defend the torture of slaves, and claims slave owners are the one suffering, the slaves are fortunate to be slaves!

That SAME letter goes on to claim owning slaves is a "religious liberty"  and blames those horrible abolitionist.  God was teaching the blacks through slavery -- in God's time. Man must not try to end slavery other than by prayer!  

Remember -- this is the letter that "proved" Lee detested slavery. That and many other Lee papers show Lee was deeply involved, you could say obsessed, with squeezing a profit from his slaves, by selling them, and renting them out, and by paying to have more captured.

Pryor held in her hands hundreds of of other letters, which she would not show, nor would the Lee family allow to be shown, but Pryor carefully related that Lee not only owned his own slaves, but had "nothing but contempt" for slaves, and that slaves said he "was the worst man we ever saw".

When slave children got sick, Lee wrote he wished they "would die quickly." 

 Blacks were inferior beings to him, and more, they were to be punished for being black!   Blacks were a special kind of being, ordained by God to feel pain.  Lee thought so, and wrote so, and he was not unusual at all -- the "blacks should be punished" mindset was common, in fact, bragged about, by Southern leaders. 

You aren't taught that today, but Southern leaders said so at the time.   Lee wrote that sentiment in his own handwriting, to his own wife. 

As you will see his father had a slave girl hung for knocking down a white man who was whipping her.  Lee was not kind, no matter how spiffy he dressed, and how religious his BS letters to his wife were.

Lee wrote other letters, including sexually explicit letters, that were anything but religious, to various women for decades.   Lee even bragged about his son's sexual conquests in those letters.

Religious? Or a man who used religion to excuse his own greed and lust for slave girls and power?  

SO the written record, of Lee's own letters, show  he was proud and defiant about whipping slaves.  Slavery was God's will -- it's not up to men to second guess God. In fact, he said abolitionist are "against God".   He also said slavery was  a "religious liberty".

The SAME letter that South has used to prove Lee "detested" slavery, is actually one of the  strongest defenses of slavery and the torture used by men like Lee. 

Lee told his wife that slaves "must endure" painful discipline, because pain is necessary for their instruction. We know Lee's "preference" for "slave discipline" was the whip -- that's in his own handwriting.

Plus, Lee had other tortures.  As if whipping a slave girl, selling children, was not enough.  After slaves were whipped, Lee had their open wounds washed in salt brine, an almost unbelievable painful ordeal.  Witnesses who saw, and were there, when Lee ordered this done, said it was done to inflict more pain, but not damage the skin further.

And remember, this is a letter that Lee apologist use to prove he was anti-slavery! There simply is nothing too goofy for Lee apologist to dream up.

Pryor didn't intend to harm Lee's myth.  She tried  her best to keep his halo upon his head.

But facts are stubborn things.  If Lee had just burned  his letters and slave ledgers, maybe the Myth would endure. Now -- the myth will be examined, as soon as, and if, the Lee family allow others to see them.


While the truth about Lee was always there -- in his slave ledgers, reports, bounty hunter payments and newspaper accounts --  our text books have written about Lee in increasingly absurd and distorted ways.   

In a Lee biography, still sold today, is one of our favorite  absurdities -- Lee and his officers all dismounting for prayer, as bombs blew up around him.

Lee dismounted during battle for long prayers, with all his officers doing likewise, while bombs exploded around him?  Longstreet said Lee was always "well in the rear"  - but who on earth would have all officers dismount in silent prayer and bombs blew up around them?

No one, of course, nor did anyone say that at the time.  This is an example of the absurd nonsense in Lee biographies written after his death.

It is from these books, largely, that "scholars" would later find "facts" such as Lee caring "only to bring souls to Christ".   That's what Lee really cared about, we hear now, "to bring souls to Christ".

Let me repeat that -- these glorious Chris quotes from Lee?  They didn't appear during his life. Or his writing. Only later in these books sold to suckers that essentially made Lee into Jesus without sandals.

And "historians" would later use those books to "prove" Lee was Jesus without sandals. Yes, "historians" can be that goofy and deceptive.

Case in point -- Douglas Southall Freeman. 

How could Lee's own papers show his cruelty and sexual escapades, but Freeman, who claimed he found dozens of Lee letters,  not mention anything about the whippings, tortures, and rapes at Arlington.  In fact, Freeman swept that whole slave issue aside, by falsely claiming Lee didn't own any, and falsely claiming Lee freed his wife's slaves.  

Uh -- actually, Pryor shows that Lee's biggest problem with slaves was their attempted escapes! 

The escapes started immediately, when Lee took over, and he reacted as his father did -- with utmost violence. His father had a slave girl hung for knocking down a white man who was beating her -- Lee had this slave girl whipped for trying to escape.

Amazingly, the overseer refused to obey Lee's order to whip the girl -- she was too young!  Lee was apparently infuriated, and hired someone else on the spot, according to three newspapers, to beat her.  Lee himself screamed at the girl all through her torture.

Yeah, that Lee. 

But this was not the only torture by Lee -- in fact, it was the start. Lee had no other mindset, that violence, toward disobedient slaves. He insisted slaves must obey, as God commanded.  Pain was necessary for their instruction.

Yeah, that Lee. 

According to Lee's slave ledgers, Lee apparently  regularly hired bounty hunters, and paid highest prices for a 14 year old girl -- 600% higher.  Pryor is careful to downplay this, but she does admit to some stunning facts, in a casual way, as much as possible, Pryor "desensationalizes" things. 

But why would lee pay 600% higher bounties for this girl?  Pryor doesn't say. Lee wasn't stupid -- he was tight with money.  So why would he pay 600% more for her?  Could she pick 600%  more cotton?   Could she carry 600% more wood?  

Our own distorted view of slave masters -- Lee is the epitome of the distortion - was exposed as nonsense at the time, by men who travelled in the South and saw the horrors, and by the Confederate Vice President, who later in life, admitted much of what went on to slave women was "disgusting" -- meaning raped. 

Mason said men who are "raised from birth" to see blacks as inferior beings, ordained by God to be punished (Lee emphatically agreed with that premise) were as cruel as any despot in history, never mind how they dressed in fine clothes and spout religious phrases.

It is no accident that slave owners, like Lee, often used religious rhetoric to defend slavery and torture -- they had no other choice. How else could Lee explain to his wife why he was whipping slave girls?

Lee's wife knew these slaves from her birth, and theirs, but after Lee took over, he had them whipped.  Lee's letter is his way of telling her it was "Gods will" and we can't second guess God.   If slaves will just obey, and do God's will, we won't have to whip them, he essentially said.   

Such men are "raised in an infernal school" -- the school of hell. The inflict unimaginable pain and claim superior status for that.

How could Mason say such a thing?  Easy -- he knew what slave holders laughed about  at slave auctions.  He knew the excuses about God, and the real actions of these men, in private.

Mason wasn't fooled by myths or text books later written by slave states. Mason was at the slave auctions, he saw the slave owners pick the women, and take them, sell the children. He watched the whips applied to women as their children were pulled from them.

SOuthern "historians" have tried to pass of slavery as anything but what is was -- a violent as sexually charged enterprise.  As we learn from Lee's own papers, rape was common.

Yes, common.

Mason, therefore,  was not fooled by silly myths built later by text book publishers. He was there. He knew the men, and he knew the excuses.  He knew the excuses were excuses. 


Why would Pryor throw that Mason information into her book?  She could have left him out.    It might well be that Pryor is writing two books at once -- there is SOME reason Pryor shows us a picture of Lee's light skinned slave child.   There is SOME reason Pryor tells about Lee's tortures carefully.  There is SOME reason Pryor tells us about the rapes at Arlington, and Lee's sexual letters (see below).

Pryor did not accidently write this way, nor accidently include Mason. She was writing about LEE -- and his letters, his papers.  She was not writing about Mason, who lived a generation before Lee.  So why include Mason's opinion of slave owners who claim religious motives for their hedonism?  

Likely, because she could not say that herself, since she was working with the Lee family and Virginia Historical society, literally working with them.   So she may have included Mason, and other quotes in the book, to get across how really vile, sexual, and cruel slavery was, even at (especially at) Arlington, under Lee.   But that's conjecture.

Pryor tells us in very careful ways, even Orwellian double talk.  For example, when Lee paid bounty hunters for women and children his hunters found illegally in the North (and he did do that) Pryor claims Lee just "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork".   The paperwork she is talking about, was proof that the "escaped slaves" really were escaped slaves, not just black people the hunters found.

If you didn't know bounty hunters kidnapped blacks in the North that were never slaves, but sold them as slaves -- welcome to real history.  Now for the shocker -- Lee did that, too. 



under construction, 


Between the slave ledgers, the letters, and other primary sources, Pryor has so much material, that no one had access too before, only a video crew following Lee around the slave barn and slave auctions, could give us more information.


PAIN IS NECESSARY for them, Lee said.  They "must endure it".   And he meant the pain of the whip, plus other tortures.  Pryor tells us the whippings was his prefered way to torture (discipline) slaves -- but he had others.  See Pryor's book for the other tortures.

Lee did literally have slaves tortured. Not kind of, not sort of, not in a way. But make no mistake, Pryor, who worked side by side and with the approval of the Lee family,  tries her best to praise Lee on every page. 

Pryor opens her book with a self serving letter from Lee, and compares him to Richard the Lionhearted. Her narrative is deliberately flattering.

It's in the details, carefully stated, that we find the horrors.   She does call it "horrors" when she discusses white looking, or  nearly white looking, slave girls, and when she admits rapes were common at Arlington.

Yes, rapes were common.  C O M M O N.   She was very careful how she got that information in -- she used ebonics!!  She quoted a slave who saw the rapes, and wrote as he supposedly spoke "Lord chil, dats wuz common".  

The Lee myth is the ultimate example of the nonsense about benevolent slave owners -- turns out, Lee was an usually cruel slave master, nothing moderate about whipping girls while you scream at them, nothing moderate about buying women and children your hunters found in the North, illegally.

George Mason, founding father, himself a slave owner, described men who "were raised from birth" to see slaves as inferior beings, not as humans,  as cruel men who were essentially sociopaths dressed up for church.  He also predicted these men would cause a violent calamity in the United States, by their vile urge to spread slavery, using God as the excuse.

Mason's description of slave owners, and his predictions, are not taught in school, not even in schools named after him.   But Lee's own cruelties aren't taught either. 

Quite the reverse is taught -- that Lee was kind, and anti slavery.  Total nonsense, Lee was exceedingly pro slavery, and his actions and slave ledgers prove it.  The distorted BS put out later, does not change one lash of his whip, one rape, or one slave sale at nearby auctions.

Rapes were not common because the slaves reported it -- the color of the skin of slaves born there, show rape was common.  Lee owned an astonishing number, and percentage, of white looking slaves.

Yes, white looking.   Pryor found it horrifying that "as time went on" whites "were increasingly enslaving other whites".

Bet you never heard this was a huge issue -- at Arlington. And that Lee owned more lighter skinned slaves than anyone in US history-. YOu never heard either of those things.

Nor did you ever hear that Lee's LIGHT skinned slave girls tried to escape too, and he had them chased, caught, and whipped.  Sound like a man against slavery to you? Really?

No one alive -- include Lee -- ever said he was against slavery at the time.  See Lee's letter defending slavery and the torture (painful discipline) of slave girls, as ordained by God, below.

Indeed, as rapes by white men went on, the babies born from those rapes were still enslaved, and if female, raped too.  Rapes were COMMON.  Including rapes at Arlington, according to Pryor, and according to facts -- like the large number of lighter skinned slaves.  Who do you think fathered those light skinned slaves, Casper?  

White's enslaved "other whites" because as women were raped, their children were lighter skinned, and far from freeing the light skinned slaves, female light skinned slaves were more valuable -- much more valuable.

Bet you didn't know that either.

You didn't learn from any US text book, but it was common knowledge -- a financial reality -- to slave owners like Lee.   There was a good reason Lee paid higher prices for the capture of light skinned slave girls, they were WORTH more.  

 Pryor did not  accidentally tell of the rapes using ebonics,  she didn't focus on rapes or tortures in any one place.  She does not call attention to it -- yet she could have.  She could have called the book Rapes at Arlington, and given us pictures, prices, bounties, and names of the lighter skinned slave, males and females.

Pryor's  goal was not to knock Lee down, but to appease the Lee family and Virginia Historical Society. She managed to include stunning about of details, even though presented in a slick, even Orwellian, bit of double-talk.

As you will see, Lee already had a habit, in private life, of buying women and children his bounty hunters caught in the North.


Give her credit, given who she had looking over her shoulder as she went through Lee's slave ledgers and personal letters, she did get more information out about Lee -- no one else reported any of this, in 120 years.  

Still, Pryor chose carefully -- this picture, of a Lee drawing, she deemed more important to show than his own handwritten record of payments for slave girls, and bounty hunters.   Does this Lee drawing really show you anything?

No. Of course it doesn't show you anything.   One picture, of one page, of his slave ledger, of any price he paid, of any income he received, for slaves, would have told you much more.

That's why she showed the drawing -- not his own handwritten record of prices paid or received for slave girls, slave children, and slave men.  She didn't really want you to grasp visually the "details" -- she tried her best to gloss over them.

She chose the most mild, most disarming way or relating the horrors, and gave an excuse themed narrative of telling us of them, but likely she could not do otherwise, not while working with the Lee family, and Virginia Historical Society.

The horror, to Pryor, was not the rape, sale, and whipping of blacks, men or women.   That did not seem to bother her.  But when she found, in Lee's own writing, evidence of "white looking" or "lighter skinned" slaves, including slave girls, including rape, THAT was the horror.

Pryor uses the word "horror" when discussing these white looking, and lighter slaves.   She seems clueless of the absurdity of this -- is it less a horror when a slave girl is whipped, if she is dark skinned, or a tad lighter?  

What about nearly white looking -- as some slaves were? And  yes, Lee owned them. Pryor dodges the exact number, mentioning "over half" were mulatto in one chapter, then adding later, as if casual and unimportant, that Lee indicated a slave girl "could pass for white".   How  many others could pass for white, and what did Lee do to them?    Pryor avoids that entirely.

Was it only a horror when those "darkies" were whipped, sold etc?  Pryor never uses the word horror about the treatment of dark skinned. 

In a way, Pryor wrote two books, in between one set of covers. She flattered Lee, made excuses for him, minimized the cruelties, used Orwellian double talk to gloss over sale of children and purchas read her facts closely -- she told us.  Lee was "the worst man we ever saw"  according to the slaves themselves.  Worst. Man. Ever.  

Remember that Lee's "biographer"  Douglas Freeman insisted Lee's slaves knew him best. Indeed, they did. Including the girls Lee paid most for -- they knew him very well.  


You can read her entire book, and not much notice the "casual" details she mentions, or mentions in Orwellian double talk -- like the fact rapes were common (forcible violent rapes no less) at Arlington, according to eyewitnesses.

Pryor excuses or minimizes Lee's brutality - -but it's there.  She claims the brutality, the whippings, the torture , were a "result of Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".   As if Lee could just speak a little ebonics, he wouldn't need to whip the the girls and sell the children as punishment. 

She also defends Lee's tortures, claiming Lee "had every right" to protect his property.    So whipping girls as you scream at them is in Lees rights? That's every right?  The girls had no right to keep their children?  Lee sold the mother or the children, one reason the mothers ran. 

Pryor is extremely careful how she phrases things -- as you will see. But she had to, she gave us glimpses of his cruelty, factually admitting he not only  had slave girls whipped, but that when his own overseer refused to whip a girl, because she was too young to whip, Lee paid someone else to whip her.

But Lee had every right?  That's her spin, carefully spun.   She had to come up with some excuse, that was hers.  She might wish she had taken the "Lee had no slaves" route -- much more effective way to distort. 

Pryor does  not seem aware of her own bizarre excuses - she talks of the horrors of slavery at Arlington -- but only when the tortures and slavery involved darker skinned girls.  

The horrors to Pryor was this -- the ever increasingly WHITE LOOKING slaves at Arlington.  That was the horror!!  Not the whippings of dark people, not their torture, and not the sale of dark children.  Pryor only uses the word horror -- and seems geniuenly upset -- when describing slavery when Lee had white looking slaves!

Yes, Lee had slaves that were light skinned. In fact, he had quite a lot of them -- over 50% of Lee's slaves were mulatto, and there were some slave girls so light, Lee himself wrote they could pass for white.

That really infuriated Pryor. How DARE Lee enslave those light skinned children.    Note to Pryor- men who will enslave one color, will enslave another, if it so suits them.  The color was always an excuse, and Lee proved that himself. 

If slavery of dark skinned people was the issue -- why didn't Lee free the light skinned babies the moment they were born?   Why did he keep light skinned slaves.

For the same reason he kept dark skinned slaves -- because he could, and he wanted the power prestige and access to slave women.  That's really what slavery was about -- not some BS excuse about the bible. 

Lee's "prefered" way to inflict pain on slaves was the whip -- but he had others.  Lee's own handwritten slave ledgers show payments to bounty hunters for the capture and whipping of escaped girls.

Not only that, Lee paid six times more for female slaves 14 years old.  Lee's apparently had obsession with escaped slaves, sending bounty hunters all over the North to capture them -- and capture others.  Lee personally communicated with bounty hunters on the capture of certain female slaves. 

Pryor is very very careful how she relates this information, as you will see: her overall narrative is as positive as she can make it. 

But the details -- sprinkled carefully around so you may not even notice -- are stunning. Like Lee's orders to shoot Confederate soldiers who ran during battle. Killing your OWN soldiers who run in battle? Really?  That's right out of Stalin's orders.   No one dreamed Lee ordered such things -- at least, no one told us about them.

Another stunner --Lee's sexually explicit letters -- written all his life  to women that were not his wife. Men did not write sexually explicit letters much then, even to wives, but Lee did, only NOT to his wife, to other women.  Lee even bragged about his sons sexual abilities, and referred to sex tricks he had used.  

Oh Lee, we knew the myth.  Get ready for a few facts. 

Yeah, that guy. 


Pryor actually supplies Lee with excuses he, himself, did  not ascribe to -- Lee used the "God intends slaves to feel pain" excuse, widely used at the time. 

Pryor claims, instead, that Lee's "poor cross cultural communication skills" were to blame!    She also blamed the slaves, saying they "tested Lee"  and he "had every right" to protect his property.

The Lee myth is that he had no slaves, and to the extent he did, he was very kind to them, and freed them before the Civil War.

Utter nonsense, Lee refused to obey three separate court orders, according to Pryor, who actually had the court orders in her hands!   Far from freeing the slaves per his own will, Lee refused to, until long after the Civil War started, and Lee  by then had no effective control of them anyway.   

 Shame on the "historians" and text book editors who didn't even bother to look at the facts, and instead repeated the goofy myths. 


Lee's myth of kindness to slaves (and much else) parallels  the myth of a kind slave owner.  If there were kind slave owners -- Lee was not one of them.   Lee was an especially cruel slave owner -- as his father had been. His father had a slave girl hung, for knocking down a white man.  Lee insisted the torture (painful discipline) was something slaves "must endure"  and was "necessary for their instruction."   It was not up to man to second guess God.

But Lee second guessed God quite a bit about other things -- he was just very good at using God to justify what he wanted to do -- slave profit, and "discipline" and sale of slaves, was an example of what he wanted to do.  That whole " do unto others"  in the bible did not apply to slaves.  Slaves were being punished, and pain was necessary.

That was not just Lee's excuse, for the torture of slaves, that was  typical.  Men do not tie women up for whipping, sell children, and even burn men to death who fight back, without some sort of justification, some sort of mental gymnastics.

God's will was the ONLY mental gymnastics extreme enough to justify torture and slavery -- so it was used routinely, and at great length.  Lee was no exception, in fact, he was quite clever how he justified torture.  Lee set himself up as the person harmed by slavery!! Slaves were the lucky ones!!

Lee wrote to his wife, apparently to mollify her, about his cruelties.   Lee did not even use his own rhetoric, he copied, almost word for word, excuse for slave torture printed in a book in 1854.  It's very possible Lee knew his wife would buy that "God excuse" because she was extremely swayed by biblical arguments.   Plus, of course, she wanted to believe enslaving hundreds of people, and their torture, was somehow Godly.

 Lee's own handwriting show overwhelmingly that Lee was as cruel  slaves, including slave girls. He was not a "middle of the road" slavery -- as bad as that was, if such thing existed.   In fact, Pryor states, in a rare burst of candor, that Lee's slaves said he was "the worst man we ever knew."

The Lee we are told was so chaste, anti-slavery, and "above all" the greatest Christian in America.    Factually, Lee was presented as a man against slavery, a man of uncommon religious principles that "sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord".

The goofy unfounded "adoration" of Lee began in earnest after the Civil War, in books published for Southern consumption, by the emerging popular books phenomenon.   The writers and publishers soon found a ready market for books praising Southern leaders, and each competed, like today's stories of pop stars, to get attention.

 Mack Lee --
Never one of Lee's slaves
And Freeman knew it.

Souls to Christ?

Nothing in his letters reflect that -- Lee wrote about GOD intending slaves feel pain!!   If Lee said all he cared about was bringing souls to Christ, no one said anything like that during his life time.   

Nothing like that appeared until these goofy books came out, after his death.  Nor did anyone say any officer in the CSA stood amid bombs exploding, with their hats removed, in long silent prayer.   But that kind of utter nonsense is on page after page of Lee biographies later -- and then those books are used to prove how lovely Lee was.

Lee was not lovely.  

 Conversations never mentioned at the time of his life, suddenly appeared in the books, the author claiming to have spoken with Lee.

Another thing -- whatever peculiar religious bent the author of the book had, he claimed Lee championed that particular line of religious thinking.  The books, in other words, at best were unreliable, and as a practical matter, are mostly nonsense.  

No one said such nonsense during Lee's life, that his only concern was to bring souls to Christ, for example. But to this day, right now, you can find people repeating such nonsense on Twitter and Facebook. 

As for Lee dismounting during battle -- with all his officers no less!! -- for extended prayers while bombs exploded around them -- that's utter BS.   Longstreet said Lee always stayed "well in the rear".   All the officers dismount during battle amid explosions?   Lee was in the rear, and he was not dismounted amid exploding bombs with all his officers, their hats removed for respect.

That's the level of "scholarship"  for most of the Lee "facts".     And that "scholarship" contradicts Lee's cruelty, torture, hatred, and obsession with slave profit and slave girls.   

Yes, we would know more about Lee's relationship with the slave girls, the bounty hunters, and the whippings at Arlington, if we could see the actual letters and slave ledgers.

There is a reason we are not allowed to see the actual documents, that the Lee family and Virginia Historical society only let ONE "scholar" see them first hand.   You might be able to guess what that is. 

These goofy books, stunningly, were accepted largely as facts.     

In  1930's the  Douglas Southall Freeman, a Confederate sympathizer,  wrote the most flattering biography possible, claiming Lee was at the right hand of God, and that Lee was the most chaste, the most brave -- the most everything.  But he used so many footnotes, frankly, people thought he had to be telling the truth.

He wasn't. Few things Freeman wrote, hold up to scrutiny, now that we know more about Lee's own handwritten papers, letters, and slave ledgers.

Freeman also lied, when he wanted to, specifically about Lee freeing his "servants" and his slaves love for Lee.   Lee did not free his slaves, until repeated court orders, and until they were worthless and he was not in control of them anyway.   Lee had sold or rented out, squeezed all the profit he could, until the documents to free the remaining slaves were a cruel farce, just like most of Lee's supposed kind acts.  In fact, Lee refused to even loan a slave money, that had worked as a slave for Lee family their whole life.

  Facts made up by pulp fiction writers, later repeated as fact  Shame on the "historians" who accepted this fiction as fact, and never even questioned it.



Make no mistake -- Pryor's overall narrative is flattering,  in fact, you can miss the horrors, rapes, tortures, bounties,  because she so deftly, and almost Orwellian like, includes those.

Pryor does not even call them "slave ledgers" -- she briefly states she used "account books".  Those account books gave prices Lee paid for whipping, for bounties, and for slaves themselves.   Those are slave ledgers, and probably said as much on the front cover, in Lee's own handwriting.

But give her credit, Pryor is the first person in several generations to report on Lee's cruelties, and his defense of them as being "Ordained by God". And she is the first "scholar" to dare tell the ugly truth, no matter how clever her understatement.

Remember, information came from newspapers BEFORE the Civil War, and the facts of the tortures reported, Lee himself wrote about in his slave ledgers. Let's be clear, Lee's OWN slave ledgers confirm the reports.

Furthermore, interviews with former slaves after the war further confirm those reports, but the most amazing confirmation comes from Lee's own slave ledgers, in his own handwriting.    This isn't from someone later, or some "historian" -- Lee wrote it down.

As to mental gymnastics to justify the torture, Lee  insisted HE was imposed upon by slavery, the slaves were fortunate.    Yes, he said slavery was an evil -- and evil imposition on the slave OWNER~!  

Slavery and the "painful discipline" was from GOD, he wrote, and only God could end it, in God's time, which Lee suggested could be 2000 years.

This was a common mental technique slave owners used -- humans can not torture others without some excuse, and Lee used the "God excuse" as did most slave owners.

Lee and his wife both resented slaves for not appreciating them more, even though Lee had slave children sold or rented out, and had slaves whipped.

If you think people can not blame the slaves for being whipped -- you don't understand human nature. Lee most certainly blamed them for their own tortures.

But Pryor, writing 150 years later, likewise adopts that attitude, though with more clever prose.  Lee simply said God ordained slavery and intended slaves to feel pain -- pain is necessary for their instruction.

Pryor, defending Lee, doesn't give us the "God excuse"  that Lee used himself.  But Pryor updates that excuse, to blame the slave girls themselves. She claims the girls  "tested" Lee, and Lee  had "every right" to protect his property.  

The "test" she is talking about, that they deserved to be chased, beaten, chained, brought back to Lee, and then whipped, was this -- they tried to escape slavery.  They tried to run away. 

Does she blame Lee? Not at all.  Does she blame the slave girls?  Yes, literally, she blames the slave girls.  Pryor apes Lee's own justification, just avoids telling us God wanted him to.  That excuse is to vile.

She also excuses Lee, for what little blame that remains for the tortures, claiming the whippings were a result of "Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".

That's right, Lee wasn't cruel or sadistic, he didn't enjoy watching girls stripped, whipped as they cried, begged, and then screamed in agony, as their family, even children, had to watch.  No no no.  It was that poor "cross cultural communication skill" thing.

So the goofy defense and adoration of slavers is still going on.

So even now, 150 years after Lee's death,  in a book that exposes the tortures, Pryor can't seem to blame Lee for ANYTHING. 

How much more "adorational" of Lee can you get? Really. Go get a legal pad, see if you can write more goofy things about defending slavery.     She is saying much the same thing Freeman did, that Lee has no faults, that the tortures were the slaves fault, etc. 



When you dig into Lee's papers, there is ample reason there to question every supposed Lee fact anew.

Like the myth that Lee's men so loved him.  No so much.  Ninety percent of his men deserted -- did you know that?  And Lee was eager to get more permission to hang deserters.    

Furthermore, Lee ordered his soldiers to shoot -- in battle -- any soldier who ran.  This is very much a Stalin technique, kill your OWN soldier who runs during the heat of battle.

Bet you didn't know that.  Those orders are in Lee's papers, or referred to there.  Pryor mentions it, but like all her shockers, she puts it as gently as possible.   

Like the desertions of Lee's troops, that were drastically higher than anything we heard of before, and actually led to the South losing the war -- yes, desertions, yes Lee's men.  

But, but, but Lee's men loved him, right? That's what we are told. Hold on, though.  Same folks told us Lee had no slaves, same folks told us Lee was a devout Christian man, chaste, honorable, and kind.

None of that is true.    Is part of the Lee Myth true?

Hard telling -- we need to start over, and this time, use facts, not just repeat myths made up after he died, and contrary to his own hand written records, like his slave ledgers and dirty letters. 

Maybe much of the bravery is true -- maybe some of the myth is true.  It does not all have to be false.  But what part is true, and what part is nonsense?

We have to start over, is the point.  What we had so far, is not history, it's repeating myths.   Shame on "historians" who participated in this. 


Lee "scholars" have known about the two trunks of Lee's personal papers for eighty years, and of course salivated to see them.    To date, as far as we know, the family and Virginia Historical Society has allowed just one person to study them.   

You are about to find out why.

It's possible the Lee family did not realize the vile nature of some of these papers. Unless you studied the personal letters -- such as comments about whipping a slave, correlated that to slave ledger entries, such as payments to a bounty hunter on that date, with that name,  would mean Lee paid X amount to have slave Y whipped.

You only know what you are told.  About Lee -- you were not told much, apart from wonderful sounding myths. And like layers of sand build up, layers of myth built up for Lee, particularly, as the South needed not just a hero, but the most glorious, Christian, anti-slavery hero possible.

So the authors selling books, created one. 


Lee's slave ledgers and letters would be a gold mine of information, even if he had not taken part in the Civil War.    The notion that slavery was a kindness, or that slaves were treated well, is and always was an absurdity.   Slavery was a terror driven enterprise where resisting it got you whipped, and fighting back against it got you hung, or even burnt to death. 

Lee's cruelties -- selling children, personally taunting slave girls as he had them whipped, the rapes, the white looking slave girls -- would by itself re-set the clock, so to speak, and show the absurdity of the narrative that Confederate leaders were benevolent class of slave owners. 

These aren't nut jobs telling us this nonsense, it's "respected historians" who, turns out, aren't historians at all. 

In fact, Lee's most famous biographer insisted Lee had "no faults to probe," though he knew well Lee had slave girls whipped, sold children, and taunted slaves before and during torture.

No faults to probe -- though he knew of Lee's tortures.s

No faults to probe -- though he knew of rapes at Arlington.

No faults to probe -- though he knew of Lee's enjoyment at whipping slaves.

No faults to probe -- though he knew Lee's use of massive slave labor during the Civil War.

No faults to probe -- though he knew Lee stayed in US uniform after hearing of plans for military coup. 



You heard right -- taunted slave girls before and during torture.  Lee was not a reluctant torturer, or infrequent.  Pryor deftly says, in a way you hardly notice, that whipping was Lee's "preferred" method of "discipline".    Stunningly, Lee had other tortures, on top of, in addition to, and more painful that whipping.  More about that below.

Pryor defends Lee's tortures, she is on his side.  She only slyly admits he tortured slaves, including girls.  She quickly adds that Lee's "poor cross cultural communication skills" were responsible!   As if Lee could just explain to the slaves better to obey,  allow the rapes, allow their children to be sold, and not to run away, all would be well.   It wasn't Lee's cruel nature, it wasn't Lee's lust or pleasure at watching slaves be whipped -- no no no!

It was his "poor cross cultural communication skills"

The "scholarship" regarding Lee has not been scholarship at all, because repeating myths that contradict the facts, is not what scholarship is.

"No faults to probe,"  

"No faults to probe,"   Douglas Southall Freeman actually wrote those words, when he knew Lee had slave girls tortured and sold children.   Remember that -- Freeman knew vile facts about Lee.

Lee was "the most perfect Christian"  and the most chaste, the most kind, the most brave -Freeman actually lists four columns of noble human attributes, and then sets out to prove that Lee not only has them all, but has them all in abundance, and more than anyone else in history.

Think I'm kidding? Go read his looney biography.  It's pathological, once you know Lee was a cruel slaver who had girls whipped, sold children, and wrote dirty letters. 

Freeman's "biography" of Lee, while it looks scholarly with all those footnotes, is  so absurd it should be removed at once from the history or biography section, and put in fiction section.  Furthermore, Freeman was well aware of Lee's torture of slave girls, his bounties, and his use of slaves during the war.

Freeman was also aware Lee bought black women and children that were never slaves in their lives, that lived in the North, but were caught by bounty hunters illegally. Yes, Lee.  Pryor is most careful how she relates Lee's capture of free blacks in the North --she writes that Lee's bounty hunters found "others"  in their search for escaped slaves.  Others -- others?  That means other than escaped slaves.  

She writes that Lee "may have technically" broke the law buying these women and children (others) the bounty hunters found in the North.   She claims Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork".

As if that bad "paperwork" was such a bother!!  He bought free women and children, turned them into slaves -- literally -- but the poor guy, wow, that time consuming paper work!

At least she got in the fact, however glossed over, however sedately stated, that Lee bought free people -- NOT escaped slaves.  Of course the Lee Myth was that he owned NO slaves and freed his wife's.   Lee's reality is nothing like the facts shown in his slave ledgers and dirty letters. Nothing. 

Time consuming paper work? She makes it sound as if 1850's slave hunters had to visit a busy DMV and fill out 100 forms in triplicate. There was no paperwork ---the law required that Lee show these where in fact his escaped slaves.  Lee didn't even bother -- he bought the women and children the hunters found in the North, and turned them into slaves.

Lee would do the same thing during the Civil War -- he had his soldiers find free women and children in the North, not escaped slaves -- and chain them, take them South, for sale as slaves. 

Yeah, that Lee.   But at least Pryor tells us, however Orwellian her prose. 

 Mack Lee --
Never one of Lee's slaves
And Freeman knew it.

Next. To. Christ. In. Heaven.   The only way to outdo that adoration of Lee, is to move Christ out of the way, and put Lee next to God.

Freeman probably would have done that too, if he could get away with it.  It's likely the only exaggeration people would say "are you sure" to.

Freeman presented as fact the deception by a "Rev Mack Lee"  from the 1920's -- a black man who preached to Southern whites, wearing a Confederate uniform.  Mack Lee made up all kinds of goofy stories about Lee, claiming he was with Lee all during the war, but got so many facts wrong -- it was obvious to Freeman, or should have been, that Mack Lee had no idea what he was talking about.

Plus, Lee's slaves during the war are KNOWN -- two brothers, and another footman.  None of whom was named Mack Lee.  Freeman knew that too.   But Freeman needed to claim Lee was kind to slaves, when actually, Lee was especially cruel.   Freeman took part in -- in fact advanced -- that fraud. 

Welcome to bizarro world of "Lee scholarship" and the absurd "historians" who were not historians at all, but repeaters of myth.

It will take a while, but now, finally, after 150 years, we know about Lee's dirty letters and slave ledgers, which validate newspaper accounts at the time of the tortures at Arlington.

It might take a while for the truth to seep through  -- facts matter.

Lee's father, for example, had a slave girl hung for knocking down the man whipping her.  Lee knew and saw such things as a child, and he was told that was God's will.   

Did you know Lee's father had girls hung? Of course not. Did you know Lee had them whipped? Of course not.   

Did you know Lee defended the "painful discipline" which he said blacks "must endure"  as the will of God?  Did you know Lee wrote that pain is "necessary for their instruction".



Lee's letter.

Stunningly, Lee's supposed "hatred" of slavery is often "proven" by a few words in a letter  -- always misquoted and out of context.   Lee wrote to his wife that slavery was a "moral and political evil" -- the most quoted Lee letter in history.

Read the rest of the letter!!  That letter actually goes on to defend the torture of slaves, and say abolitionist are on an "evil course".

And that's just one letter -- there are 10,000 more!  That's right, Pryor had, according to her, 10,000 letters to or from Lee.

Yes, she should have shown a dozen, or two dozen. Or at least one!

It's from these letters Pryor gleaned the tortures, white looking slave girls, bounties, etc.  The slave ledgers have information too, but no doubt the endless letters, when correlated to the letters, gave a dramatically different and more full view of the events, the bounties, the whippings.   Pryor did say "women" wrote about the white looking slave children, and were "disgusted".   Why would they be disgusted? Because white men were regularly impregnating the slave girls!

And then, those children, biological children of the white men, including Lee men, were sold, whipped, or otherwise treated as slaves.    This is what infuriated Pryor -- not slavery of blacks, but when white looking children were treated thusly, Pryor thought that was a "horror".

So why are we told Lee "hated" slavery?   Because of a few words in a letter, which when read in its entirety is a stunning defense of the TORTURE of slaves!!    In a few words, often quoted, Lee writes that slavery is a political and moral evil -- but then goes on to justify it as will of God, and claims God intends slaves to feel pain.  Pain is "necessary for their instruction"   He also claims only God can end slavery - it's even for men to even try!! 

Furthermore, Lee tries to play the victim --  he is the one hurt by slavery -- the slaves are fortunate to have men like him doing God's will!!  Slaves are better off here than in Africa.   By that logic, anyone can enslave anyone, and then claim they are better off.

Remember, this letter is an amazing defense of slavery -- but a few words taken out of context,  and thats "proof" Lee was against slavery?  Actually its proof Lee defended the torture of slaves, when you read the entire thing, in context, and know what Lee did to slave girls.

We all know the myth -- Lee, man of  honor, was against slavery, and fought only because "he would not raise his sword" against Virginia.

Actually, Lee was already working for the Confederacy, while still in US uniform, and getting paid for it. 

 Lee almost certainly  knew of plans for a military coup, against the President of the United States, from Jeff Davis, who personally talked to dozens of future Confederate leaders about a military coup -- a plan to simply invade Washington if Lincoln decided to actually show up.   Jeff Davis wife spoke of this plan, at the time, to her housekeeper.

Dozens of other future Confederate officers resigned from US Army on the spot -- they had to.  Their own specifically says they must arrest anyone who speaks over overthrowing THE PRESIDENT!  That's right, the oath Lee took, specifcially said that.

Lee, after the war, was asked about this oath, he evaded the question, by saying "he could not recall".    But officers do not forget their oath, they memorize it, and must say it aloud.  It's a big deal when they become an officer, or get a promotion.

To stay in US uniform, while knowing of plans for a coup, is  treason -- and Lee knew it.    



Lee was not some chaste hero -- in fact, he owned more light skinned girls than anyone else in US history, because he was the largest slave owner in Virginia (yes he owned slaves) and a stunning percentage of his slaves, drastically more than usual, were light skinned or mulatto.  Over 50% of his slaves were mulatto!! The average percent was 10%.

And rape - according to eye witnesses -- was common at Arlington.  Yeah, rape.  Coerced sexual oppression, was common.

 C-O-M-M-O-N, according to eye witnesses, per Lee's own papers!

DO you see why Lee's own papers are so important?  Remember, Lee wrote of these things, or confirmed them, by dates, names, payments, bounties. 

Why would Lee pay 600% high prices, which he did, for the capture of a certain light skinned girl?    Could she plant 600% more cotton?

Did he want her opinion on the math formulas for bridge calculations?   There was some reason -- a reason that made sense -- for Lee to pay so much more for a young girl.   Was it because she brought more at auction  (yes, Lee used slave auctions).

Was he fond of her for personal reasons?  Angry?

 And by the way -- do you know what the cash crop was at Arlington? No, not cotton.  No, not food. The cash crop was SLAVES and their labor. 


Lee's actions, reported in the newspapers at the time, show he was enthusiastic about whipping slave girls, that he screamed at the girl as he had her whipped. .  Not just one newspaper, not just two, but three papers carried the same basic story.

And that story was confirmed after the war, by interviewing slaves that were there when these tortures happened.

And if that is not enough. Lee's own personal handwritten slave ledgers confirm payments to bounty hunters and others for those slaves, and apparent payments for whipping the girl.

 Not a cruel slave owner? 


Lee also sold children, which is very likely the reason women often tried to escape. 

Lee's slaves tried often to escape -- Pryor won't give us a number, but artfully claims "an epidemic" of run aways.   Lee had over 200 slaves, and over 50% were lighter skinned, a stunning percentage.

Lee himself wrote that at least one woman (possibly more) were so light that they could pass for white.   What did Lee do to these slave women?

Just what he did to the others, he tried to make money on them.

Slavery was a cash business, and Lee was obsessed about turning a profit on his product -- slaves.

 Other wealthy slavers tried, at times, to keep child and mother together. Not Lee.   The slaves at Arlington revolted when Lee took over their discipline and sales -- another small fact left out of your history books. Since they gloss over, or deny, his ownership of slaves, of course they aren't going to report his cruelty to them, nor the rape of those slave girls. 



Was Lee the some military genius we are told about?   Maybe, maybe not.   Certainly the myth is such, but look at the facts: he used massive slave labor DURING the Civil War, to build his defenses, so much so that Richmond papers called him "King of the Spades" -- spade being a derisive word for slave.

Without the massive defenses -- probably the biggest construction job in US during the Civil War -- Richmond and the huge Trafalgar Iron works falls.    These iron works were the biggest source of weapons, specifically cannon, for the South, made possible ONLY by the massive earth works, built by slaves.

You were never told that -- but at the time, Virginia papers praised that, and called Lee "King of Spades".   Lee himself would probably be surprised all his cruelties and torture of slaves has been whitewashed - he defended things which now, Southern apologist claim never existed in the first place.

The defense of Richmond was possible only because Davis chose Lee as "Kind of the Spades" early in the war.  Lee had never commanded troops in battle before -- another basic fact your history book "forgot" to mention. Lee was an engineer, his job was to design and build bridges, damns, earthworks.    

 Most people think Lee was in the military side of the Confederacy from the start. Not so.  His earliest big job was to be "Kind of the Spades."

Lee knew how to "brown nose"  Jefferson Davis -- other Southern generals did not, and Davis demanded his officers pander to him, which was probably the biggest reason the South lost. 

Those iron works were among the biggest reason Lincoln wanted to take Richmond, from the outset.  Using massive slave labor to dig the 22 miles of defenses was the only way to keep Richmond out of Union hands.  If you ever visited the earth works at Fort ______, you will know why it was impossible, in that day, to penetrate those defenses with canon of the day.

Lee was in charge of that.   

Consider this -- if Lee would have slave girls whipped for his personal anger during peace time, what on earth would he do to slave men during war time, when his life might depend on the speed of their work?   We don't have any records we know of, about how he had those slaves whipped, or worse.   It's hush hush about his role in that part of the war, anyway.

Lee also ordered free women and children captured in the North, to be chained, taken South, and sold as slaves, thereby becoming the only soldier in US  history to have women and children sold. Yes, Lee did that. No one else did that, Lee. 

The US will probably fade into history before another officer orders women and children, captured in enemy territory, to be sold as slaves.   Lee is unique in our history, for that alone.

Lee's hubris made him think GOD was on his side, and would magically make his reckless attacks at Gettysburg work.  Lee really thought God would supernaturally, make his killing work.  God did not cooperate.  Does a military genius really depend on GOD, to make an idiotic plan work?   Really?

Lee got many of his early true believers killed off, and the replacements were not so gung ho.  Lee's desertion rates soared, to 60 and then 90%, and those men who remained would not obey his commands to attack.  Lee himself fled, and made sure he was personally safe.  What happened to that bravado he told his men to trust God for their lives?

When Lee's life was in danger, he did not trust God but the ability of him and his staff to flee.    He told the suckers to trust God, he certainly did not.

 Jeff Davis himself said 2/3 of Lee's soldiers deserted by summer of 1864..  You won't  hear that in your history books, which push the myth of Southern soldiers so committed to their heroic Lee -- nonsense. 

Yes, the story we all heard did not show Lee that way. Too bad.    Repeating a myth endlessly does not make it true.


The Lee family still won't make the letters (and ledgers) public.  In those papers are records of tortures, sale of children, Lee's dirty letters, and most amazing of all, Lee's slave ledgers.

Yes, slave ledgers.  Pryor calls them - referring to them only once directly -- as "monthly account books" but they are Lee's own handwritten ledgers of the prices paid, and received, not only for slaves, but payments to bounty hunters.   

The "monthly account books" (slave ledgers) are so detailed, so thorough, that Pryor can find which slave Lee had whipped, on what day, and who he paid to capture and whip her.

Pryor made no list of Lee papers -- the only thing she showed directly was a drawing Lee did of a pile driver. She called it "a beautiful drawing".    And her overall narrative is like that - flattering, but disingenuous.  Which is more revealing about the real Lee -- his list of tortures, payments, and defenses of slavery?    Or a drawing of a pile driver.

She showed us the pile driver drawing.

Hard to know what the Lee family would allow her to show -- but as you will see, she carefully got bits of information in, as stunning as any in US history. Lee has slave girls whipped?  Lee taunted slaves before he had them tortured?   Lee in effect boasted and defended his torture  -- it was torture, that's the right word -- of slaves, including slave girls who would be in 7th and 8 grade in our society.

Pryor is a scholar, and she knows how to categorize and present papers like Lee wrote, but her goal was not to shame Lee, or stun the public.   

Don't expect "historians" to jump on the expose Lee bandwagon -- Pryor did not make the slave ledgers or dirty letters public, nor did the Lee family.   And Lee is the cultural icon for the South, not just for the Civil War, but so many people have bragged about him, and Confederate honor, that it will likely take another 150 years before "historians" can look at Lee objectively, 

It's not ONLY the slave ledgers and dirty letters, there are plenty of other evidence of Lee's cruelties -- newspaper reports both before and after the Civil War, for example.  This was not a secret-- but the myth of Lee as an honorable man, in fact the most Godly man of his or any generation (!) that no one could unring that bell, even if they cared about the truth.

Give her credit, however. Pryor does get the information in -- carefully, almost in Orwellian double speak, but she gets it in. No one else did that much.

The whippings Lee took part in, the taunts, the other tortures, the dirty letters.  Apparently Lee wrote many thousands of letters, Pryor mentions 10,000 letters, apparently to and from Lee.


Lee was a man, raised from birth to see slaves as delivered by God to enrich white men. No, he was NOT kind to his slaves, in fact he was a particularly cruel slaver, taunting slaves before he had them whipped, and Lee developed tortures to use on TOP of, in addition the whip, to inflict more pain, as you will see.

Lee was obsessed with slave girls, and and paid 600% higher prices for young slave girls who escaped.   If money is any indication, Lee cared far more, when a girl tried to escape.

Make no mistake -- Elizabeth Pryor adores Lee, and defends him in every page, every paragraph. Her overall narrative is flattering, to the point of being "adorational".     The fact Pryor actually defends his torture of slaves, claiming "Lee had every right" to "protect his property" -- the property being slave girls.  

But "protecting his property" meant whipping slave girls, inflicting so much pain, terrorize them so bad, they dared not try again. (They tried again anyway)

Pryor hardly mentions the whippings --   and excuses Lee, blames the slaves.   But ironically, that makes her more credible, not less, as to the basic fact that Lee's own slave ledgers and letters show, in his own handwriting, proof Lee tortured slaves (torture is the right word).

No doubt Pryor was stunned to see Lee's record of tortures, his sexual letters to various women over decades, but she got over it.  Her disgust was for the torture and enslavement of white LOOKING slaves.   Black looking slaves -- Pryor seems profoundly unaware that she is okay with that. But let white looking slaves, born by rapes of the mothers, be enslaved -- Pryor thinks that is disgusting.

Pryor painted a "Portrait" -- a careful idealized picture. And that is her title -a PORTRAIT.  She does not claim to be flushing all the dirt out -- plenty of that.   She does not claim to be doing scholarly work on Lee's slave ledgers. Quite the opposite.  

But still, she had in her hands the actual Lee records of torture, bounties, and letters Lee wrote, about it.   Her goal was keep the "Lee Myth" going a little longer, she did not want to be the biographer who destroyed a legend.

  Everyone assumed the Lee papers kept in trunks would  confirm what we already "knew"  about Lee being anti-slavery, and the "best Christian and best soldier" in US history.

After all, we knew everything about Lee, right?  We knew he was kind and freed his wife slaves -- some say the slaves loved him so much they refused to leave.  

We knew Lee prayed with black women when no one else would, some said he saved a black child from a burning shed, and there was a story of him saving a sparrow during battle.    One biography of Lee  -- still in print today, sold at Amazon right now -- claims Lee dismounted with all his officers during battle, as bombs blew up around them, to listen to a soldier's long prayer.

Lee's personal letters and slave ledgers would prove all that, right?



Uh -- not so much.   Turns out, Lee's slave ledgers were in the papers, as were sexually charged letters he wrote to, or got from, various women for decades.  Lee recorded things like whippings, and bounties paid.

While Pryor does her best to gloss over the tortures, whippings, dirty letters, she does carefully, oh so carefully, get them in.   She could have named the book "Lee's Slave Ledgers"  if she wanted, fittingly and honestly.  But her goal was not to shame. Nor was her goal to inform candidly. 

There is no question whatsoever Lee had slave girls whipped, because  Lee himself recorded verification of it.  Newspapers (three of them) reported the tortures BEFORE the Civil War.    Normally, torture of slaves (yes, it was torture) did not make the paper, but Lee used other tortures on top of, and after the whipping.

No matter how many times people repeat the myth of an honorable Robert E Lee, who was against slavery, it's not true.  His own hand written papers overwhelmingly show his personal cruelties, bounties, whippings, and sale of children, including the sale of light skinned children.

According to several newspapers at the time,  prior to the Civil War, Lee personally taunted the girl before  her torture,  and had other tortures applied even after the whipping.

Another surprise in these reports -- the regular overseer refused to whip one special girl.

Yes, the overseer would whip the other slaves, that was his job.  But when Lee told him to whip the young girl, he refused.  One witness reported it was due to her young age.

Lee, furious, immediately hired someone else to whip her. 

Lee shouted at her during the whipping. THAT is why it made the papers, the girls was so young, the overseer refused to whip her.

Furthermore, reporters verified this again, AFTER the Civil War, when they talked to a former slave at Arlington, who gave details that later, Pryor would find in the slave ledgers!!

So before -- and after -- the Civil War, newspapers reported the tortures.  Furthermore, Lee himself confirmed it, in his own handwriting.   The only way for this to be wrong, is somehow the slaves snuck into Lee's slave ledgers, memorized the details in it, then waited till after the war, and hoped a reporter would ask them.   Then depend on Lee's slave ledgers surviving for 150 years, in hopes the Lee family would let someone read them.

Not Lee, apparently Lee hired out  all the whipping,
but stood by screaming at the slaves.

Remember, this story appeared in three different newspapers.  

Whipping slave girls is so vile, no one took any pictures of it, but it happened regularly at Arlington, because so many of the slaves tried to flee Lee's cruelties, as Pryor artfully admits. Whipping was Lee's "preferred"  method of torture. He had others. 

More, this story was confirmed by reporters AFTER the Civil War.   Lee's own record, from his own slave ledgers, indicated payments for slaves of that name, and payments for bounties, and payments for whipping.   Lee wrote that down.

So the reports of Lee whipping slaves, in an especially cruel and personally vengeful way, was true.  And it was not atypical for Lee.

Pryor has to write that carefully, so she does, as she writes carefully about everything. You can read the entire book, especially if you skim any of it, and miss "details" like this, because Pryor always posits them offhandedly, without near the attention it deserves.

Pryors artfully placed "details" must come as a shock to those who believed he was a "Christian hero" and anti slavery.  But almost 30 years ago, a lone brave historian suggest we must "start over" about Lee, since none of what we had, though abundant, was actual scholarship.   Alan Nolan had no idea how correct he would be.

The girl had tried to escape, that's why Lee was so furious, why he taunted her, and why he had her whipped, and why he had other tortures applied. 

The whip was Lee's "preferred" method of torture (Pryor calls it "discipline").

Within the flattery, (her narrative panders to the Lee Myth) are stunning facts -- presented in as careful way as possible.

Pryor carefully includes stunning facts, from Lee himself, that essentially make a mockery of the Lee Myth.   Lee was more cruel, not less, than other slavers, and far from freeing his slaves, as the myth claims, Lee actually resisted the Virginia court orders to free them, until the few remaining slaves were essentially worthless. 

But Lee wrote it down.  Pryor had to make the best of it.  

Pryor could have written a scathing "tell all" book about tortures, bounties, and rapes at Arlington, and Lee's role in them.   She could have made it clear which girls Lee paid the most for, and where he sent them for sale.  Yes, Lee used slave auctions, and bounty hunters, he used torture, violence.  Lee defended the torture of slaves, and torture is the right word. 

But Pryor's goal is not to trash Lee -- but to keep the halo upon his head, as much as she can.

Her title is clever -- "A portrait" -- and she chose that word well.  Her portrait is not an honest picture, it's flattery.   Still, she did what no one else has ever dared -- she told the truth about a cruel man, cruel because of his actions, and his defense of torture. 

And yes, torture is the right word. 

The Lee family kept the letters out of public view, for a reason.  Even now, though they let one person study them, there is no indication they will let anyone else study them.    If they don't destroy them, it's only a matter of time before the Lee Myth is exposed.


Pryor is careful how she relates the "horrors" that Lee himself caused -- yes horrors.  Sprinkled like MSG in a Chinese restaurant, Ms Pryor artfully deposits truths that no one has dared mention, much less address, for five generations.

For example, Ms Pryor won't even call his slave ledgers by that name, she refers to them once, almost in passing, as "monthly account books".   But those slave ledgers reveal apparently the most information -- and in detail.  Pryor can tell you how much Lee paid, for which girl, on which day.  

For example, Lee sold or rented out all the young female slaves.   Pryor doesn't say it like that, instead, almost casually, she mentions that the slaves on hand were all males or older. Yet earlier there were some 100 female slaves (No, Lee did not free them).

What did Lee do with the girls?

 What MOST slaves looked like in the South during Lee's life
    But not at Lee's plantation   

Most of Lee's slaves were "mulatto," lighter skinned, some so light, they could pass for white. Stunningly, Lee owned more light skinned girls than anyone in US history.

Bet you didn't know that.

We know light skinned slave girls were highly prized -- got the biggest money -- at auction, because books at the time, reported that light skinned girls were bought for high prices, and sold to houses of prostitution.   For whatever reason, Lee paid his highest price for certain girls, who apparently were lighter skinned.   If any of Lee's 10,000 letters mention such a thing, Pryor didn't mention, but higher price for light skinned slave girls was a reality that enriched men like Lee.

Many escaped -- Pryor has to deal with that carefully, too. Pryor mentions, again (and always) carefully, that Lee's slaves hated him, and he had nothing but "problems" with  "epidemics" of escapes.

 Lee had an "epidemic" of escape attempts?    The myth is, he owned none. But Pryor artfully tells us he had epidemics.   She could have given us a number -- 60?  Eighty? 

She wont say, but she had the data in her hands -- Lee's own ledgers.   There was clearly SOME data in there to make her use the term "epidemic".   She did mention that at one time, there were twelve slaves in one escape, one a lighter skinned girl.

Why would they try to escape?  Lee was kind, or didnt own any, right?  Why try to escape then?

The myth is all over the map -- Lee's slaves loved him, he didn't have any, Lee's slaves stayed with him AFTER he freed them -- blah blah. None of that is true.  None one word.

But that myth has been repeated, it's now accepted as fact,


Pryor is on Lee's side, so when she absolutely had to admit Lee had slaves whipped, she she defends it as "a result of Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".

Pryor tries to minimize any blame to Lee, by claiming casually that the slaves "tested" Lee -- they tested him by trying to escape!  And he had them whipped, tortured. Torture is the right word.

And Lee had dozens, perhaps many dozens, of escaped slaves, and employed bounty hunters to capture them, return them to him, and have them tortured.  

Yes -- that is what Lee actually did.


Pryor does not include this in her book, but Lee's father was at least as violent to slaves, including deadly use of torture.  Lee's father had a girl hung,  yes hung to death, for knocking down a white man.

No one even bothered to write down WHY she knocked a white man down, was he raping her? Taking her child?  Whipping her?  No one thought to pass that information on, it was irrelevant!   She used force against a white man, and she was hung for it.


Bet you never heard that on any Lee "tour" of any of the places that  honor the Lee family.

Pryor also writes as if the slaves were lazy and repeats stories about this slave walking slowly, or that slave supposedly stealing.   Pryor, in her own editorial voice, mimics Lee's own defense of torture of slaves, giving the impression the slaves might have deserved it, without actually saying so.  

Pryor  claimed discipline "administered early" could prevent the need to harsher discipline later! 
   In Lee's own handwriting, there was specific information about number of escaped slaves, and their names, and the bounties paid.   Pryor saw enough to know the "average" price for an escaped male slave was 10 dollars. Why didn't she tell us more details?

She didn't want to!

Do you think Lee wrote "had an epidemic or escape attempts today"? 


Lee would have written the name, the date, and the bounties.   In fact, Pryor shares two bounties.  But she is eerily silent on how many slaves overall tried to escape -- though bounty hunters were chasing 12 at one time.
And Lee himself communicated with bounty hunters, giving them specific times and places the slaves might be found.   Clearly Lee was focused on, and motivated deeply, by escaped slaves, because he kept bounty hunters busy for months, if not years.

Pryor's most clever trick is to often speak of slave owners generally, and not have Lee's actual name near the alarming details.  You can  forget, she is reading LEE'S PAPERS.    You need to read closely, even go back a page or two, and read it again, she is talking about LEE, though at times she does all she can to gloss over that. 

For example, she writes that women at Arlington wrote letters about the "light skinned slave children" and were disgusted by it.   These were TO LEE!!  These letters were about slaves at Arlington, that Lee owned. As far as possible, Pryor takes Lee's actual name out of those paragraphs, and the reader can easily not grasp it's Lee papers that she is writing about, many from Lee himself. 

What were the total number of escapes?  How many slaves actually escaped?  Lee would have kept track, he kept track of everything, he was exceedingly detailed and focused on money from his slaves.

But give her credit -- she is working literally with and for the Lee family, and under the glare of the Virginia Historical Society.  

Pryor does  get a lot of information in,  just in soft terms, such as the white looking slave girls -- she even has the only picture of a Lee slave, yet that picture is of a white looking slave child.

Kinda odd, to inclulde only ONE slave picture, but have it be of one of his many light skinned slaves. Yes, many of Lee's slaves, far more than any other plantation, were light skinned.  Pryor carefully says that.

She doesn't draw attention to that shocker -- white looking slaves? -- but then puts a picture of a white looking slave in the book. Is she telling us something indirectly?


Whites, Pryor tells us, were increasingly enslaving other whites.   Seriously, did you know that was in issue in US before CIvil War?  Turns out, it was a big issue at Arlington, because there were letters to and from Lee, apparently, about it.

Did Lee free the slave children who looked white? No, he sold them or rented them out!

That was the horror, for Pryor, not the whippings, rapes, and bounties for dark skinned folks

 Pryor seems clueless that the agony and pain of being enslaved, being whipped,  having your children sold, is as great no  matter what pigment your skin. But the black slaves, even when whipped, even when terrorized, sold, taunted, did not seem to bother Pryor. But a child or woman with lighter skin is abused, sold, raped, whatever -- THAT pissed Pryor off.

She seemed spectacularly unaware of her own racism, in that regard.  Enslaving whites - bad. Enslaving blacks, oh well.

What do dirty letters, records of tortures, and high bounties for certain girls have in common?

They are in Robert E Lee's personal handwritten papers. Lee recorded notes about his OWN tortures, bounties, and sales of children.   He also wrote his own defense of the torture of slaves, including the torture of young female slaves, who he paid the most for.

Anti slavery?   The most pious, the most brave, even the most tidy.  The bravest man of his time, and above all, "the greatest Christian"  said Douglas Southall Freeman.

Lee "had no faults to probe" and now "sits at the right hand of his Lord, Christ".   Freeman has three columns of human attributes that Lee not only had, but had more than anyone else.   

But Freeman knew better.   Freeman knew, yet reported otherwise, that Lee had no slaves, and that those he took care of, his wife's slaves, loved him so much, they refused to leave when given their freedom.

Tiny little problem -- none of that, not one word, is true.  And Lee's own handwritten slave ledgers, orders, and even sexually explicit letters to various women, prove  it.

The papers,  either written by Lee (such as the slave ledgers and dirty letters)  or to Lee, from various women or from bounty hunters, show a drastically different story than the myth Douglas Freeman tried to chisel into reality.  

Freeman didn't start the myth making -- from 1870's on, "biographers" had made up goofy stories about Lee, claiming any absurdity they could think of, like that Lee and all his officers would get off their horses during battle, and pray, as cannon balls exploded around them.  See below.

Freeman just topped them all, putting Lee next to Christ in heaven.    The only possible way to outdo that, is to put Lee next to God, and push Christ out of the way.  Freeman probably considered it.  The point is, Freeman lied his ass off.  And "historians" simply repeated the BS. 

If the family had burned those papers, Freeman might have gotten away with it.  

Lee's personal papers are a tad bit surprising.

For example, no one ever mentioned Lee's orders to his own troops to shoot their fellow Confederate soldiers who ran during battle.   That's a tactic Stalin used.  And only recently, has any "historian"  admitted Lee had men and women in the North captured, taken South, and sold into slavery.

The myth is that Lee's men adored him -- nonsense.  Lee's desertion rate grew drastically after he had his "true believers" killed off at Gettysburg, in probably the dumbest action of the Civil War.  Lee's desertion rate grew to 90% -- and was over 60% desertion rate by summer of 1864.  Eventually, Lee said his army "evaporated" -- they deserted, despite his willingness to have his own soldiers shot and hung for doing so.

Edward Pollard, editor of a Richmond newspaper, wrote at the time that the story of the Civil War will be shameful for the South, because of the massive desertions.  Jeff Davis  himself said 2/3 of the soldiers deserted by 1864, and said if just half of the deserters came back, the South could not lose.

But that's not what was told later on -- the "hero worship" of Confederate leaders, was a great way to sell books.  No one wanted to  hear stories about Lee's tortures, or the massive desertions of Confederate troops.


Maybe the most absurd, and vile, myth is that Lee's slaves  "so loved" him, they refused to leave.  Lee's slaves were whipped for trying to escape, does that sound like they refused to leave?

And Lee had dozens of slaves whipped, including girls.

Lee spent a lot of money (Pryor knows how much, but won't tell us) on bounty hunters, to capture and whip slaves. Lee kept in close contact with the bounty hunters, giving specific suggestions, and he paid 300% higher prices for certain girls.

That's right, Lee paid by far the highest prices for certain GIRLS.

Why would Lee pay drastically higher price for a 14 year old girl?  So he could discuss philosophy with her? Because she could carry 300% more wood? 

Pryor dances around the fact Lee made his money NOT by crops or cotton.   Lee's money came from selling or renting out slaves.  Common of the "Upper South" plantations, the income was from "excess of the womb".  To make money from these women and children, Lee had to sell them or rent them out, which he did. It was in the "Deep South" that slaves grew cotton, in the "Upper South" they grew slaves, much like breeding farms for livestock.

Lee against slavery?  In one letter to his wife, Lee seems to say slavery is a "moral and political evil"  but then he goes on to say it's God's will, and God intends slavery to be painful.  

Thats right, Lee told his wife, God intended and knew slaves would feel pain, pain is NECESSARY.   Slaves should submit to him, as God's will demands, for the slave's own good.   Even if that meant a slave's child was sold, they were worked endlessly, and sold or raped at the whim of the owner.   And rape is the right word too.

Pryor admits that rape was common AT ARLINGTON.   That's right, common.    Pryor did not want to admit it, she took pains to gloss over it (she quoted a slave that said it was common, and she used "ebonics"  when quoting him).

The rapes were common, because someone white fathered many of the slaves at Arlington.  And the white man was very likely a Lee male.

Lee wrote that only God can end slavery, and in his time. In that same letter, he equates slavery with "religious liberty"  and claims abolitionist are "on an evil course".   

Lee specifically defends the torture (painful discipline)  slaves "must endure"   as from God, a common excuse used by almost every slave owner that bothered with excuses.

Why on earth did Lee personally direct his hunters for months on end to capture women and children and bring them back? Why buy women and children his bounty hunters found that were NOT escaped slaves?

Yes, Lee bought women and children his bounty  hunters caught, that were not slaves before.   See below how careful Pryor was about that revelation in his papers.

Why whip the girls when you got them back?  Anti slavery? Really?

Yes, whip.    Pryor artfully dodges giving us number of escaped slaves, or slaves that were whipped, but Lee wrote it down.   She could have given us plenty of numbers, instead she wrote of Lee's "epidemic" of escaped slaves.  

Likewise, Pryor was artful about the massive desertion rate in Lee's army, in fact, Pryor is artful in every page. Still, give her credit, she got the information in there, artful dodging and all.



Lee had no empathy for slaves, in fact, he claimed he was imposed upon by slavery, the slaves should feel gratitude to him for doing God's will of enslaving them!  

Of course, Lee was not alone in that kind of mental gymnastics to justify slavery and the terror and torture that went along with it.   Humans must justify, in their own mind, the cruelties they cause, and Lee is no exception.



As George Mason essentially said,  of men like Lee (raised from birth to see slavery as Godly), were sociopaths dressed up for church, though Mason did not use those terms. He said such men were "of a diseased mind"  raised in an "infernal" school, and taught to be blind to sufferings they imposed on others.

Dressed up for church, able to quote scripture, duplicitous, fake. 

 Mason correctly predicted that such men would cause a violent calamity for the United States -- get this -- over the issue of spreading slavery. 

In Mason's time, there was not this goofy extreme defense of slavery as ordained by GOD.   One of the biggest changes from 1776, to 1860, was the maniacal defense of slavery as not just permissible, but demanded by GOD, for punishment of the black race!  

In fact, Lee himself wrote that God was punishing the slaves, and pain was "necessary" for their "instruction"  per God's will.


 Lee's father was a cruel slaver too, in fact, he once had a slave girl  hung for knocking down a white man (see below). Yet the slant you get from Lee biographers, is that his father was a noble man who played a role in the Revolutionary War.  He also very likely fathered some of his own slaves, and sold his own children into slavery, one of the cash crops of slave owners was to sell their own children.

Yes, slave owners sold their own children -- one of the "horrors" Pryor does write about.  Including slave owners at Arlington

Did Lee have any slaves hung?   Pryor certainly isn't telling, but likely she knew, one way or the other.

Lee used violence and threats against slaves, as he had learned from his own father, who has a pregnant slave girl hung for knocking down a white man.   Lee too would go to extremes to terrorize (the right word) slaves, but they fought back, and tried to escape.   At every point, Lee escalated the violence, including violence against girls.


Lee himself would likely have burned his dirty letters and slave ledgers, but ironically, the Union Army saves his personal papers and turned them over to the Lee family.   

It's not that people didn't know.  Lee's cruelties were reported at the time, in newspapers, before and after the war.  It was no secret. In fact, Lee's massive use of slave labor during the war was a cause of merriment to a Richmond newspaper, which called him "King of the Spades"  for the thousands of slaves he forced to build defenses around Richmond.

So why didn't "scholars" tell us?  The "scholars" were busy creating a goofy myth of a chasted, kind, anti slavery "super" Christian.    The Lee they teach today in schools, never existed.   The real Lee was nothing like the myth. 

But from about 1870 on, the revisionism started, with book after book about the glory and honor of Confederate leaders, sold well.  As the years went by, to sell well, "biographers" seemed to compete to make more ludicrous and absurd claims about Lee, quite devoid of facts.  Some of those books STILL sell today, see below. 

The cruelties to slave girls, and his dirty letters, are probably the most amazing revelation in Lee's personal papers.  



Pryor insists that "Lee did not fully appreciate his slaves desire to be free."   

Actually Lee very much "appreciated" his slave's desire to be free because he tried his best to whip it out of them.  And he taunted slaves before he had them whipped.  He paid bounty hunters, and directed them himself, for months on end to find escaped slaves.  He had them whipped, regardless of age or sex.

Pryor was very careful how she relayed this horror -- Lee paid his hunters for women and children  that were not escaped slaves, but his hunters found them living free in the North.   He would do this during the Civil War, too. He ordered his soldiers to capture women and children, in the North, and take them South for sale.  One wonders who got the cash,  and Pryor could probably tell us, if she wanted.   

There was a thousand ways for Pryor to reveal those 'details" about Lee's bounty hunters, but she does not even use the word bounty hunter.

Just like she does not use the term "slave ledger" -- but that's where she got much of her information.  

Pryor referred to "monthly account books" -- but they were accounts of his slaves, his sales, rentals, bounty payments.   We know because she will actually mention, carefully, amounts for certain girls.   Lee paid drastically higher bounties for  certain girls, and paid extra to be there when they came back, so he could watch them whipped, apparently, because Lee paid to have them kept in local jails for various durations.

Even more, Pryor blames the slaves for being whipped, because they "tested"  Lee.  Between those bad slave girls "testing Lee" and that "poor cross cultural communication" skill set, Lee was apparently blameless, in his own mind, and in Pryors.

Even more bizarre, Pryor uses her own editorial voice, defending "punishment"  (it was torture) inflected on slaves when young, by suggesting it prevented further punishment later, because slaves would learn their lesson.  She could not ape Lee's own self talk any more if she tried. 

The reports of Lee's tortures were in the newspapers BEFORE the Civil war, and confirmed in interviews after the Civil War, but most stunningly of all, Lee recorded evidence of it, in his own slave ledgers.

That's right, Lee wrote it down.  Himself. Lee. Wrote. It. Down. 



No one ever mentioned Lee's white looking slave girls, but he owned very likely the highest number of white looking slave girls in Virginia, if not the US.   Pryor tells us that over 50% of Lee's slaves were "mulato"  and also tells us of letters from women living at Arlington of their disgust for the increasingly white looking children at Arlington. 

Someone white fathered the children --and fathered a lot of them.   In fact, Pryor carefully relates information that black men at Arlington slept in their own slave cabins, because white men would come in at night to rape the slave women.  If they men resisted or fought back, they could be hung for using force against a white man -- any white man.

In fact, Lee's father had a slave girl herself hung, for knocking down a white man (see below).  People today think slavery was some kind paternal religious based enterprise. Nonsense, it was a brutal thing, and rape, according to Pryor who admits this carefully, was COMMON.


Yes, common. Rape. Was. Common. Yes, at Arlington.  Pryor has a hard time saying it, she is as careful as she can be, but she gets it out.

   Someone white impregnated the slave women, and then impregnated the girls born to those slaves.  Pryor said there "is no evidence"  Lee participated in such rapes. Very clever -- no evidence?  What about the white looking children?  How's that for evidence SOMEONE white impregnated the slave girls.

We know Lee did not sleep in the same room as his wife for decades, she had "female" issues.   Lee was a "lively" man, he wrote sexually charged letters.  He got sex somewhere -- he did not hesitate to have slave girls stripped and whipped, and he screamed while they were whipped, according to witnesses.

Just what part of Lee would not rape a slave girl? He had them tortured, he sold them, he sold their children.   Think again if Lee was someone who would resist getting his pleasure from the girls, like others at Arlington did. 

Pryor at one point calls the relationship between slave women and the white master as "dalliances" -- but there is no dalliance with a slave.  Also as Pryor herself said, again carefully, "coercion was used in those situations" .

Coercion was used?  That means force, that means violence or the threat of it. 

 Remember, Pryor got her information from Lee's own papers.  She does not show us the papers, or quote from them, in matters like this.  But do you think Lee wrote "Coercion was used in these situations"?  No.

Someone wrote it down -- about the rapes, about the violence. Coercion was used in those situations is Orwellian double speak for "men at Arlington used violence or threats during the rapes".


Pryor seems stunningly accepting of torture of slaves - and selling children, and even rape -- until it happened to the very light skinned slave girls.   Lee owned slave girls so light, Lee himself wrote they could pass for white.  

Pryor could have, because Lee kept such meticulous records, told us what Lee did with each slave girl.  She is never candid about things like that, instead, clever writes that at a certain time, the only slaves at Arlignton were males and old slaves.  Okay, that means the women were gone -- WHERE?

Pyror says they were gone -- but did Lee write down "GONE" with no explanation? Of course not.  Pryor saw something that told her the slave girls where gone, at some point -- something she saw in Lee's own handwriting.  WHy not tell us?

Because it's probably not flattering.

Pryor seems comparatively livid when telling us of the white looking slaves Lee owned, clueless that torture of dark skin hurts just as much, and selling a woman's light skinned baby is as awful as selling her dark skinned baby.

 The fact some of these slaves looked white upset Pryor. 

When Pryor uses the word "horrors" at Arlington,  when the topic was sale and treatment of the children that were WHITE LOOKING.

 How DARE they enslave whites!  Pryor doesn't likely realize that is criteria, but it is.  Lee whipping black slaves -- well, they tested him!  Well, his poor cross cultural communication skills, yada yada.

But white looking slaves!! Oh the horror!!! Oh that's so vile!!

Hello, Ms Pryor,   How about, how dare they enslave anyone? How about, Lee was a vile puke of a human being for screaming at girls as he had them whipped, no matter their skin tone?

How about that?

And how about telling the truth without Orwellian double talk


Now that "12 Years a Slave" movie won an Oscar, people know that yes, blacks in the North were captured illegally, taken South, and sold as slaves.

Guess who one of the buyers of those men and women were?

Lee.  That's right, Lee.  

Lee also bought women and children his hunters captured in the NORTH, illegally, who had never been slaves to begin with, that his hunters found while looking for escaped slaves.  Let's make that clear -- the women he bought  were NOT escaped slaves,  his or anyone else's. They were women and children Lee's hunters found in the North.

How does Pryor get that stunner in?   Carefully.  Lee's bounty hunters found "others".   OTHERS.  That's it, Lee's bounty hunters found others, while searching for his escaped slaves, and brought them to Lee.

Other?  Other -- meaning, other than the escaped slave.  There can be no other interpretation.   Pryor had to see something in Lee's slave ledgers, that's where she got this information. That bit of information did not fall off a shelve in her office, she saw it in Lee's own handwriting, in his own papers.

Does she show us the page in Lee's hand? No. Does she tell us the names of the "others"? No.   She just cleverly mentions, as if its a trivial issue, the word "others". 


Lee did the same thing during the Civil War -- he had his men capture women and children IN THE NORTH, then taken South to be sold as slaves, becoming the only person in US history to capture women and children during a war, to be removed from their country, and sold illegally as slaves.

Yes -- Lee did that.  Yes, that Robert E Lee.

Lee came by his heartless attitude toward slaves from birth ---and religion. Lee claimed God "knew and intended" slaves to feel pain, pain was "necessary for their instruction".    IT was the white slave owner that was oppressed, slavery was beneficial for the slave, even though it meant torture, and often, the sale of your children, on top of forced labor.

Here is another thing those flattering "Lee biographies' forget to mention -- Lee's his father had a slave girl hung, for knocking down a white man. No one even bothered to write down WHY she knocked down a white man, she did, and Lee ordered her hung.  This despite pleas that she be allowed to give birth, she was "heavy with child" when they hung her. 


Far from freeing slaves, Lee resisted repeated order by Virginia Courts, which ordered him repeatedly to free his wife's slaves (Lee also had his own slaves) until the few slaves he still controlled, and  had not sold or rented out, were essentially worthless.   No one was buying slaves, by the time Lee "freed" the few that remained, and as a practical matter, they were already freed by Lincoln.  

  These goofy books, which sold well in 1880 through 1920 or so, were no more factual than the Wizard of Oz, but are, for some reason, used as "primary sources" for "Lee scholarship".  

Oh, and Lee prayed with black women when no one else would. And he had no faults to probe.  Certainly he didnt enjoy watching slave girls be tortured!  


Pryor adores Lee, and was not out to shame him.   The problem she had - Lee's slave ledgers and dirty letters contain too many horrors  for her to completely gloss over.

She tried, however.

Pryor tried to keep the halo upon his head, to fit the Lee myth as much as she can.  And quite a myth that was -- is.

According to Douglas Southall Freeman, who devoted much of his life into "studying" Lee, he had not faults to probe.  None.   That would be true, perhaps, if ordering the torture of slave girls, and the capture of free women, and the sale of children, is not a fault.

Lee's sexual letters to various, and apparently numerous, women may well not be a fault -- not the first man to write dirty letters. But that by itself shows Lee was not like his biographers claim.  Lee was a horny guy, how many women have you written sexually explicit letters to, that you didn't have some sexual fascination or inclination for, or actually had a physical or flirting relationship with?

Freeman did not study Lee, as much as he concocted a myth about Lee.  His adoration is thick as cement, and actually laborious to read, even if true, but he laid it on thick, because it was not true, and he knew it. 

Freeman looked like central casting sent him over, with scholarly spectacles, and that professor suit and vest, but Freeman avoided the truth, at any costs, and inserted what he knew what lies.

His father had "served" with Lee, but his motivation seemed to be more to cover up the truth that most of the Confederacy, and Confederate leaders, were cruel slave owners,  or from families that got their wealth and status from the sale, torture, and oppression of other humans. 

Shelby Foote said the South was "obsessed" with telling of Civil War history because they lost -- he knew better. They were obsessed with it, to cover up the cruelty and oppression and the desire to spread slavery for God, even further.

Foote was part of the shameful  "scholarly" cover up of the cruelty and barbarism of the Confederate leaders.    As George Mason, founding father, essentially said of Southern "Gentlemen" raised from birth to see slavery as Godly,  they were sociopaths dresssed up for Church.  See more about Mason's view of slave owners and their desire to spread slavery for God, below. 



   Make no mistake -- Pryor defends Lee on every page   

The Lee family chose Elizabeth Pryor, herself a Lee devotee, a scholar, and a diplomat.    She could have no clue what she would find. 

 While Pryor tries valiantly to keep Lee's halo upon his  head, she herself calls some of what she found to be "horrors".

So careful was Pryor with how skillfully she revealed the "horrors" that even the Journal of Southern History gave her book high marks.  The Lee family still spoke with her after the book was published.


Other absurdities. 

Lee ran into a slave house on fire to rescue a slave child. Whatever anyone could make up, they did. It sold books, at the time, and idiotically, "historians" who knew better, used those earlier books to hype Lee, and gloss over the rapes, tortures, bounties, and various cruelties that were part of everyday life at Arlington, once Lee took over.


Lee's passion was profit from slaves -- and he not only defended slavery, he defended specifically the torture of slaves, claiming God "knew and intended" slaves feel pain, because "pain is necessary for their instruction."

Lee's famous letter to his wife, tellingly, has long been used to "prove" he was against slavery, because in one sentence he does say slavery is a moral and political evil.  But read the REST of the letter,  he claims slavery is of God, and God intends painful discipline (torture) for slaves.  Those who are against slavery are against God.

The victim in slavery, according to Lee and sociopaths like him, was the slave owner, doing God's work of civilizing the blacks.   It might take 2000 years, Lee posited, but only God can end slavery, because it's God's will. It is an evil for men to even try to end it, until God wants.

But now, with 10,000 (yes, Pryor claims 10,000) personal papers, the picture of Lee is one of a cruel, even sadistic man, who at very least allowed rape of slave women to happen regularly.    He sold children, and screamed at slave girls as he had them whipped.

He also taunted them before their torture, and had other tortures in ADDITION to whipping, for slave girls. 

Lee paid extra to have slaves "instructed" with various tortures, not just whipping, which is torture aplenty. 

Let's call it torture, that's exactly what it was.

Lee's slaves hated Lee,  according to Pryor, and with reasons.   While Pryor is coy how many slaves tried to flee ( like she is coy on all such facts)  careful reading shows Lee had likely over 200 slaves, and "over half"  according to Pryor, were lighter skinned, per the 1860 census.   Why say "over half" -- odd for a scholar with the actual slave ledgers, she could have shown us the list, the dates, the names and the bounties, for the escaped slaves.

How many tried to escape? No number, but she does use the word "epidemic" of run aways, and it started as soon as Lee took over "managment" -- meaning discipline, sale and rental of slaves.   Lee hired bounty hunters, though Pryor, again, refuses to use such phrase.    Lee paid these hunters, stunningly, not just for the escaped slaves, but for women and children Pryor artfully calls "others" that Lee's bounty hunters caught, while looking in the North for escaped slaves.

Yes -- really.  Yes, Robert E Lee.

Since most people today do not realize bounty hunters caught FREE women and children in the North, as well as escaped slaves, fewer yet know Lee's hunters did, and that Lee bought such women.

Lee would do the same thing during the war -- he had his soldiers capture women and children, FREE women and children, in the North, kidnapped is a better word, taken South and sold.  We have whitewashed slavery, and particularly  the horrors rapes and cruelties of it, and necessarily glossed over Lee's participation in such cruelties. 

Per Pryor, the horrors included, the common rape of slave women at Arlington, the sale and torture of girls, and the "increasingly" white looking slave children at Arlington.  

For some reason, Pryor was not offended at whipping and rape and sale of black women and children, nearly as she was about the same treatment inflicted upon whiter toned slaves.

For example, Lee regularly had slaves whipped -- in fact, whipping was only one of his "disciplines" - Lee used other tortures as well.  Whipping was his "preferred" way to torture slaves.

No, Pryor does not use the word torture, but whipping is torture, and Lee used it, even on girls.

But the whipping was not offensive to Pryor, in fact, she posits in her own editorial voice, that "discipline (whipping)" early in life could prevent worse discipline (whipping) later in life.

Pryor is like a mother who finds a horrible diary about her son, and tries her best to minimize or explain everything away.  It was the slaves fault they were whipped, it was the State of Virginia's  fault for writing a law about it (no such law existed),  or Lee's tortures were  just a "communication" deficit.

Pryor would never say bluntly that Lee was into whipping -- though he was.  Who taunts girls before their torture?  Lee did.

Who screams at slave girls DURING torture? Lee did.

Pryor related that information, but carefully.   She deftly relates that newspapers told of various whippings at Arlington, but in a way that all but dismisses the veracity.  Then in a different section, she confirms the reports. Her entire book could have been called "Lee's tortures" if she wanted to be accurate and sensational.  

But Pryor does not even call "slave ledgers" by that name. She only once mentioned the ledgers as "account books". 

So when Pryor discusses Lee's treatment of slaves, she makes sure his name is not in the same paragraph as the info about torture and whipping and rapes.   She is talking about what happened at Arlington, while Lee was there.    She knew the dates Lee was physically at Arlington  and if the rapes and tortures happened only when he was away, she would have shown that.

Lee was not holding the whip -- the in the tortures she described -- but he was there screaming at slave girls (!) according to several eyewitnesses, confirmed by details in Lee's own handwriting.

Lee not only there watching the whipping, but screaming at slave girls as they were whipped. That takes a special cruelty. Of course Lee, and only Lee, could decide if a slave girl or man was whipped.  No one was whipped without  his say, and slaves were whipped  often, not rarely.  Lee's only approach to slaves was violence and the threat of it.  He had no other approach. He apparently disdained even the "house" slaves.

As for the slave ledgers, Pryor artfully refers to them, as if in passing, by the term "monthly account books". You can bet if she found slave ledgers and dirty letters from Abe Lincoln, she would not artfully call them, and just once, monthly account books.

The "monthly account books"  were Lee's writings about slaves -- slave prices HE paid, and wrote down. Slave bounties he offered, and wrote down.  Lee wrote HIS  income from slaves, in his account books. Pryor could have listed prices for each one.

The bounties Lee paid out for capture one certain girl was drastically higher than other bounties.   He had some reason to want that girl back after she escaped, Pryor doesn't tell us what that reason is.

Lee also paid for woman and children to be kidnapped -- these were not bounties Lee paid -- in the North. When Lee's hunters were looking for escaped slaves, they found "others"  as Pryor artfully calls them, and paid for them too.   She claims Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork" for these "others".

She even says, that "technically"  what Lee did "may have been illegal".

Uh - kidnapping free women and children in the North was illegal, not just technically, but morally reprehensible.  But slavery torture and selling children is morally reprehensible, there was no line Lee had to cross morally, he crossed that line long ago.

You can read Pryor and not ever be too shocked -- she never writes a sentence such as "Lee taunted slaves before he had them whipped".  She reports Lee's hunters capturing free women and children as "others".  But she does say it, artfully, euphemistically  but she alone says it.

But Pryor's most consistent rhetorical device is to often discuss slave owners generally, and not make it clear she is talking about Lee himself.  The name "Lee" often does not even appear in that paragraph, or page!,   But Pryor is talking about Lee, and Arlington, getting the information from Lee's own papers.   You may have to back up and re-read those pages and paragraphs carefully.

Pryor reports on the newspapers accounts of Lee's tortures -- long dismissed as so "silly" by  Southern "historians"  they never mention them clearly.    But the reports were not only numerous, and in several newspapers, those reports were verified AFTER the civil war in interviews with one of the slaves.  

And if that were not enough, Pryor herself found confirmation in Lee's own handwritten entries - on the dates, and payments to the men, mentioned.     So the idea that slaves "made it up" later is ludicrous, unless they could sneak into Lee's house, get his slave ledgers, remember what he wrote, then years later cleverly make their statements to reporters line up with those dates and names.

The reports of torture  Pryor said were "unquestionably based on facts"  and whippings were Lee's "prefered" method of discipline. 

  You can easily miss that "prefered" sentence -- she could have named a chapter "LEES TORTURES"  but of course that was not her goal. 

 Lee did have other tortures, and he was steadfast and almost proud of his "discipline" of slaves, writing that God intended slaves feel "pain" because "pain" is necessary for their instruction.

Pryor also claims Lee had to whip slave girls, because of Virginia law about escaped slaves. Ms Pryor was fabricating here, Lee did not have to whip slave girls or anyone else.

And if the law was not enough of an excuse, if Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills was not enough, Pryor blames the slave girls themselves, saying they "tested" Lee.

How did they test him?  They tried to escape.

Pryor is artful on every page -- she could easily tell us that Lee owned (yes, he owned) and managed over 200 slaves, but she never gives a number, nor does she specify how many slaves tried to escape, how many he sold, or rented out.  She could have.

Pryor is so careful how she minimized Lee's tortures, it's possible to read her book and hardly notice the tortures or reason for it.  But give her credit, no matter how clever and how many euphamisms she uses, she does tell us about tortures, rapes, and other horrors.

Pryor leaves out details she had to have in her hands, to make the clever statements.  For example, something in Lee's papers had to convince her that Lee's "preferred" torture was the whip.  What she does not tell you is what the other methods were, and how often he used them, and on whom.   But she had the information in Lee's own handwriting to draw those conclusions.

Furthermore, she knew the average price Lee paid for bounties of slave men -- she said it.   TO know the average, she must know plenty of details of various prices.   

Nor does she put all the horrors together, or make it clear Lee is involved.  She did admit that over half of his slaves were lighter skinned, but she buries facts like that in the narrative that is flattering to Lee.

Pryor  even relates that the average ratio of lighter skinned slaves was 10% -- but Lee had over 50%.

Lee had "epidemics" of escapes -- she won't say how many, though she could.  There had to be 50 or so escaped slaves, and Lee had everyone whipped, who his bounty hunters caught, including the girls.


The surprises in Lee's hand written papers keep coming -- Lee not only wrote "dirty letters" for decades, to various women, he also bragged of his son's sexual abilities.  Who does that, even now? 

NOT Lee's slaves.  Most of Lee's slaves where mixed race,
including white looking slave women.

Lee's sexually explicit letters were about sex tricks and experiences he had, but they were written to various women,  as a regular habit apparently, for all of Lee's life, including after the Civil War.   

Lee did not apparently write sexually explicit letters to his wife -- ONLY to other women, and Pryor there too is coy, she does not say how many dirty letters to or from Lee she found. It would have been easy and appropriate to give a number.

Pryor says here "is no evidence" Lee actually did the things he mentioned, but she was coy about the whole episode, so it's impossible to tell.

But she does show, again carefully, that Lee paid extra to have certain girls caught and whipped, while he taunted and screamed at them.  She doesn't say it in a sensational way, but carefully "lets out" a few details here, then more details later, none of which, by themselves, are that shocking.

Pryor does not show the slave ledgers.
She calls them "account books".

Yes, you CAN reveal shocking horrific facts, in a way that makes them sound  not so terrible -- read "Reading The Man"  which may be the best example of it.

Pryor even admits rapes -- yes, rapes -- were common at Arlington. But she uses Ebonics to do that, she quotes a slave, in the style generally used to make fun of blacks  "Lord dats wuz common"  said one male slave.  

Why use ebonics ONLY when relating the rapes?  Did she accidently use ebonics for that? Why not use ebonics for describing anything else?  

Her clever way of inserting vile horrors, carefully, worked. YOu can read the entire book, and not much notice Lee was involved in allowing rapes, tortures, selling children, and even taunting slaves as he had them whipped.

There are probably a million ways to relate those facts -- Pryor took the road less travelled -- frequent use of Orwellian double speak.   Still give her credit, she admitted what no one else dared.

In fact, slave women were raped right in front of the slave men and children -- a scene so ghastly that slave men decided to sleep in their own cabin, because they would try to protect the women from the rapes.  If a black man laid a hand on a white man, they would be whipped.  If they caused injury to a white man, they would be hung.

Lee's father, in fact, had a slave woman hung for knocking down a white man -- who was probably trying to whip or rape her.  No one bothered to record why she knocked the white man down, she did, and Lee's father had her hung.

There were rapes (it was common) but  Pryor says "there is no evidence"  Lee took part in these rapes.   If he did not take part, he certainly knew the white men raping his slave girls, and did nothing to stop it.

The proof of the rapes was not just the letters about them, but the fact white looking children were born to the slave girls.

Lee, like all slave owners, profited from slave births. Pryor doesn't tell you this -- but white looking slaves, especially white looking female sales, sold as a premium, because they often ended up as slaves in whore houses.     Pryor apparently could find no way of including that, so she avoided it altogether, but Lee's slave ledgers were detailed, and Pryor could likely tell you exactly where some of those light skinned girls ended up.

On top of the whippings, Lee  used other tortures IN ADDITION, to cause even more pain, according to witnesses.

And most amazing of all -- Lee wrote it all down.


No, the Lee family did not release the slave ledgers and dirty letters to the public.   It took 150 years for them to let even one person, outside the family, to see most of these papers.   They chose  Elizabeth Pryor, who studied the papers at length, but apparently was not allowed to actually show them, or copy them.

Ms Pryor wrote a book about the papers -- and as far as humanly possibly, she made it flattering. Her goal was not to trash Lee, nor even tell the truth.   Her goal was to keep Lee's halo upon  his head, but also reveal what was in those slave ledgers and dirty letters, in a way that would not shock the public.

She did the best job she could.

We were all told Robert E Lee was a "Man of God". The best soldier -- but "by far" the best Christian.  He was so kind to his wife's slaves, that when he freed them, they would not go.

A book Lee quoted from.

Lee prayed during battle, dismounting from his horse with all his officers, as bombs blew up around him. He saved sparrows in the field, prayed with black women when others refused to go near them, and even saved a black child from a burning house.

Yes, Lee (who was never actually IN a battle, was always "well in the rear" said Longstreet)  is shown not only in the battle, but he and all his men dismount as bombs are exploding around them, for a long silent prayer.

That is the kind of absurd claims these books made -- and those books are the basis, really, of much of the "Lee scholarship"  that persists, and grew even more absurd, as time went on.

  Lee trusted "Providence" rather selectively - he trusted "Providence" as excuse to whip slaves and send men to certain death, but when Lee himself was in danger, he trusted the speed of his horse to get out of danger. 

  Tellingly, Lee "scholars" quote Lee's own self serving claims, or the claims attributed to him, by adorational biographers. 

  Lee would tell soldier to "trust in merciful providence" as he talked to them before battle, but he did not trust in providence himself.  What part comes to us in our "history" books?  Not the tortures, not the whippings, not the bounties.  

So complete the conceit and absurdity, Lee is shown as humble and kind -- he was neither.   Humble men do not taunt girls before and during their torture.  They just do not. 

Books about Lee, filled with preposterous claims, sold well in 1880's in the South, but they were written by men who had no concern with the truth, and just made stuff up.

Literally -- quite literally - -there was never a deed too goofy, too false, too preposterous to claim Lee did it.  Remember, in Lee's own handwritten slave ledgers, he pays men to whip girls, pays for capture of escaped slaves, and for the kidnapping of free blacks.  

Lee was what? A man of who?

Really?   What the hell bible was Lee using?


Lee family and Virginia Historical society chose one person -- one person only -- to actually read each slave ledger and each sexually explicit letter,  at length.  

Remember, no other figure in US history has had slave ledgers and dirty letters tucked away in a trunk.  But this was Lee -- the great Lee, the anti slavery guy!  The super Christian, the "no fault to probe" guy!   

Lee, according to "historian" Douglas Southall Freeman, with a straight face, was "now seated next to Christ, his Lord" in heaven!!

There is no way -- unless you claim Lee IS Christ -- to top that  praise this guy who whipped slave girls and sold children, and defended it as God's will.   A total -- and I mean total- - meltdown and disconnect from reality.  Shame on the "historians" who let this myth double, double again, like a cancer, until the men who tortured women and children, enslaved, and killed, were seen as the most perfect men in US history.   But that is what happened, literally, for Lee biographers.

 These slave ledgers would be vastly important, if Lee had never taken part in the war, they are so detailed and precise.  

More than showing about Lee, this reveals the absurdity of our "historians" who don't go by facts, they just pump up the myths more outlandishly.  

Ms Pryor can tell you, for example, what slaves were whipped on which days, and how much was paid!  That's very precise.   She can tell you the bounties Lee paid, and for whom -- including bounties he paid for women and children his hunters caught illegally in the North.  Lee bought women that were kidnapped in the North -- that were not slaves in their entire lives!

Pryor, very careful how she relates these horrors, is especially clever telling about Lee buying kidnapped women -- she puts it in terms of "Lee failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork"  as if buying women was a paperwork issue.

Still, till Pryor related that, no one had a clue Lee's bounty hunters brought him women and children they captured in North that were not escaped slaves at all!

 Even today, right now, Lee is mentioned in sermons, books, classrooms, as one of the most kind, Godly, and principled men in history, not just of this nation, but any nation.   

Pryor would need every bit of her skills as a diplomat --she had to appease the Lee family and the Virginia Historical Society (which exists mostly to praise Lee) while still being true to her self image as a scholar.  No easy task.

In Virginia, children are taugh, facutally, that Lee was a man devoted to the bible,  who hated slavery,  never owned any, only managed his wife's slaves and freed them "long before the civil war". 

 Douglass Freeman,  "historian" so famous in Virginia they name schools after HIM too,  told us Lee's slave's  (Freeman calls them servants) loved Lee so much, they refused to leave.

When you learn that Lee regularly had slaves tortured for trying to escape, the vile absurdity by Freeman is a foul lie, and he knew it. Freeman was well aware Lee had slaves whipped, and not just occasionally.   Lee was an especially cruel slaver -- remember that, as you read Freeman's nonsense. 

Freeman actually manufactured a false record of Lee -- claiming  Lee's "servant" wrote a flattering book about Lee.   He claimed a "Reverend Mack Lee"  was one of Lee's slaves and spoke of the "great man's kindness".

Actually  Mack Lee was a grifter, a hustler, who would wear a Confederate uniform, in the 1920s, to speak to white audiences, telling them blacks should be grateful to them.   Mack Lee  claimed he was Lee's personal slave in the war, and was hit by a cannonball while standing next to Lee.  Utter nonsense.   Lee did have four slaves with him during the war -- to cook, clean and wash him!   

But Mack Lee was not one of them -- and Freeman knew that.    But Freeman needed something to "document" Lee's love for his slaves - er, servants -- so he used Mack Lee's "book".

It was not a book, it was a pamphlet Mack Lee handed out before his "services".  

Freeman, of course, knew all that, because Freeman knew the names of Lee's actual slaves, and those who attended to him through the war.  You can find mention of this Mack Lee in newspapers from the 1920's, thanks to Google and other newspaper searches, a fact Freeman could not imagine.

 Mack Lee --
Never one of Lee's slaves
And Freeman knew it.

Plus, Freeman knew that in Southern newspapers, before and after the Civil War, there were reports of Lee's cruelties to slaves, especially slave girls.   Freeman knew that, but made sure his readers did not, or dismissed the reports as "silly".

We know from Lee's own record of tortures that the reports were not silly, at all.

His slaves loved him "most of all".   Really?

Ms Pryor shows that the slaves hated Lee -- with reason. He had children sold, or the mother sold or rented out, routinely.   He made no effort to keep mother and child together, in fact,  he apparently sold mother or child for punishment.   

Lee did use torture as punishment -- and not just the whip, which was vile enough.     Make no mistake, however. Pryor blames the slaves,  not Lee, for the torture.   She claims, in her own editorial voice, that "discipline"  (torture, as you will see)  applied early in life may be a kindness, because later Lee would not have to torture them even worse.    She doesn't put it  in those words, but that is what she is saying.

She also excuses the tortures -- and Lee regularly used torture -- by saying it was due to Lee's  "poor cross cultural communication skills".  As if he could just talk a little ebonics, or if the slaves would just obey and quit trying to escape, that torture would not be necessary.

Pryor gets almost comical -- if the subject was not torture -- when she says Lee "did not fully appreciate" his slave's desire to be free. Oh yes, he appreciated it, and had them  whipped if they tried to escape.

Another exercise in Orwellian prose, Pryor says the slaves "did not fully agree with Lee's theory of labor management".  Really. She wrote that.  They did not fully agree with Lee's theory of labor management.   We know the labor management was whipping and the promise of more.   Pryor actually so wanted to defend Lee, she literally defends the torture of slaves, including girls.  

Yet people have claimed Pryor is somehow "anti Lee"  or out to destroy Lee.  Just the reverse, she is so careful how she related the rapes, tortures, and cruelties, you can read her entire book and not notice, if you want to go along with her Orwellian prose.

Yes, it got that crazy-- and still is that crazy. It will likely take another 150 years for Lee's slave ledgers and personal letters to seep into the national consciousness.

   But now,we have Lee's own dirty letters and slave ledgers.  No, the Lee family will not let anyone copy them, publish them, it took 150 years for them to let ONE person see them up close enough to study them.  As far as we know, they allowed no copies of the slave ledgers or dirty letters.

  But give the Lee family credit -- and Ms Pryor -- it might have taken 150 years, but finally, something true is known about Lee, from his own papers.  

Really?  Uh - not so much.

Make no mistake, Pryor is on Lee's side -- every page, every paragraph.  But  she is also a scholar, and felt, apparently, a sense of duty to reveal what what in Lee's own personal letters and ledgers, though she does so very carefully.

She admits things like rapes at Arlington, in fact, she admits they were common!  She admits Lee bought slave girls from bounty hunters, but in as gentle way as possible.

 She admits Lee had slaves whipped --regularly. And he used other tortures, ON TOP of, after the whipping was done.  Lee even had girls whipped.

But give Pryor credit -- no one else ever, ever, did we mention ever?-- admitted any of these things.  She was working with the Lee family, she likely did as best she could under the circumstances.

A casual reading of her work can easily cause readers to miss any of the tortures, rapes, etc.   For example, she admits rapes were common by quoting -- in ebonics -- a male slave saying "Lord child, datz wus common".  


She artfully discusses rapes on one page as "dalliances" between "races".  As if a slave woman can say no. Pryor knows, but did  not tell, about Lee's father execution of a slave girl for knocking down a white man who was whipping her. 

The number of light skinned slaves at Arlington -- plus letters from women at Arligngton, plus the 1860 census, plus Lee's own records, show over 50% of Lees slaves were NOT dark skinned.

In fact, Lee wrote of girls that "could almost pass for white".  Lee paid his highest bounty for a light skinned girl.  Pryor "forgets" to tell you that light skinned girls were far more valuable, and were sold to whore houses, at auction. There is no way to know if Lee's light skinned girls ended up as slaves in whore house, but that was a very real part of slavery, according to books written at the time.