|under construction -- come back later.... editor.|
Hang on to your hats, Lee lovers.
It's going to be a bumpy ride.
Facts are stubborn things
If Elizabeth Pryor, the author of the cleverly worded book on Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, and communication to and from bounty hunters, could say one thing to Lee, it would probably be this...
"Please, please -please burn your slave ledgers,"
ON LEE'S SIDE
Lee had "every right" to torture his slaves, Pryor writes. Only Pryor writes about his "discipline" of slaves.
But we find out -- from her, delicately as she can manage, that Lee's "discipline" was the whip, and Lee used, or paid others to use, the whip regularly.
The horrific story of Lee's torture of one specific slave girl, reported in three separate papers at the time, made the paper only because the girl was so young, so small, the original overseer refused to whip her.
That's right, the original overseer (the guy that usually tortured the slaves) simply REFUSED. Lee had a bounty hunter, the one that caught the girl (and others) whip her instead.
Even more amazing, the newspaper reported Lee taunted the girls before and during the torture.
It sounds so bizzare -- until you know, Lee indeed seemed obsessed with the capture of run away slaves, in fact he was in continual communication with bounty hunters, and his overwhelming problem was escaped slaves. Lee paid 600 % higher prices for slave GIRLS. While Pryor does not say this, there had to be a reason Lee paid so much higher prices for young girls. Lee made sure he was at home when the bounty hunters brought this girl, and immediately had her tortured.
Long dismissed as so unlike anything in the Lee myth, "historians" would not even mention the newspapers, though they knew of them.
But because we have (or Pryor did have) Lee's hand written slave ledgers, Lee wrote down so many things that confirmed the tortures, that Pryor admits -- very reluctantly -- that the overlapping newspaper reports of Lee's amazing torture (torture is the right word) of slave girls were undoubtedly based on fact -- because Lee confirmed it, in his own handwritten slave ledgers.
The tortures were confirmed AGAIN, after the war, by reporters talking to freed slaves at Arlington. So
1) newspapers reported it at the time,
2) Lee's handwritten slave ledgers confirm it
3) interviews after the war's end confirm it, too.
NOR WAS THIS UNUSUAL
Just in case someone thinks this torture was a aberration by Lee-- perhaps the girl (and others, others were tortured right after the girl was tortured) had done something horrible? No.
Lee's father had a girl about 15 hung to death, when Lee was a youngster -- because she knocked down a white man. No one even bothered to mention why she knocked down a white man. Was he whipping her? Raping her? Taking her baby?
It literally did not matter. She could be tortured and or hung. She was hung.
If you (a black) used violence against a white person, the penalty could be death. Some were whipped to death -- as Frederick Douglass wrote in his autobiography, his master tortured a slave woman to death, while shouting bible verses, until the woman died.
If you don't know that slavery was, at it's base, a most violent enterprise, you have been fooled entirely by US text books and movies. Slavery was entirely about violence, both spreading slavery, and keeping the slaves in line.
Lee, by the way, apparently had everyone watch the torture of slaves, though Pryor never mentioned that, but the story of the girl Lee had tortured, had a crowd around. There is little use torturing your slaves, if they others don't see it, and get the message.
Pryor COULD have told us much more details -- how many slaves did Lee get from bounty hunters? How much did they cost? Did he have them tortured if they resisted being a slave?
Pryor is very careful NOT to give us more than a whitewashed sketch - certainly the slaves being tortured, and the women Lee bought from bounty hunters that were captured in the North, would not be polite or demure or use Orwellian double speak, as Pryor does.
Pryor writes that essentially, the first thing Lee did when he took over the torture (discipline?) of the slaves, was to have the SLAVES install a whipping post. Pryor cleverly states the whipping post was a "silent reminder" to the slaves of their fate if they disobeyd. But there was nothing silent about that whipping post area. Men and women were tied up and tortured on that post, and Lee took part personally -- he did not whip them himself, apparently but did stand by and scream -- yes scream - at slaves, including slave girls, as they were tortured.
Pryor wrote all that in a very delicate way. But no one else dared ever to come that candid about Lee.
As for Lee's purchase of kidnapped women (yes Lee paid for "other" women his bounty hunters caught IN THE NORTH" Pryor writes that "technically [Lee] may have broken the law. He "failed" to fill out the "time consuming paperwork".
PRYOR IS ON LEE'S SIDE
The author -- Elizabeth Pryor -- third from left in this picture. She adores Lee, and did her best not to knock the halo from his head. Only problem, Lee tortured slaves, sold children, and bought kidnapped women from bounty hunters (yes he did).
How was Pryor going to pretend Lee was honorable, against slavery, and or kind to his "servants"? The answer is -- "very carefully".
These are the trunks that stored Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters.
ELIZABETH PRYOR -- the only scholar ever allowed to see Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, bounty hunter letters, and the two trunks of personal papers, kept by the Lee family -- for 150 years.
Most people assume we know so much about Lee, it would be almost impossible to squeeze out another trivial detail, much less a basic fact.
Most people would be wrong.
More people know the name of Lee's pet chicken (Pearl) than know Lee, according to multiple newspapers at the time, and confirmed in his own handwriting, in his own slave ledgers, had slave girls tortured (torture is the right word) for trying to escape.
Lee did much more than torture slaves for trying to escape. He had women kidnapped from the North, that were not slaves at all, never were. But Lee's bounty hunters caught them, anyway.
And why not? Slavery was ordained by God, was it not? (Lee said it was). Blacks were "fortunate" to be slaves, right? (Lee said they were). Lee was in the slave business to get wealthy, right (yes).
Then why not pay for women caught in the North, by bounty hunters?
Pryor was doubly careful how she relayed this information to her readers. Lee, she claimed "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork" and technically he "may have broken the law".
Only, there was paperwork, time consuming or otherwise, to capture free women.
Another thing -- during the Civil War (though Pryor does not give us this information in her book) Lee had his soldiers do the same thing -- he ordered hundreds of blacks-- once freed slaves or not, including women and children, captured in the North, brought South, and sold.
We don't know who got the money for those Lee had captured in the North, and sold in the South. But I have a pretty good idea who got the money, and I bet Pryor could have told us, if she wanted.
Lee was not only cruel to his slaves -- according to Pryor's own book (and remember, she defends Lee as much as humanly possibly) his slaves said he "was the worst person were ever knew."
WE ARE TOLD FABLES -- NOT FACTS.
SO WHERE DID THE MYTHS COME FROM?
No one at the time claimed Lee was anti slavery. No one at the time said he was kind to his slaves. In fact, newspapers reported how cruel he was.
But lies, repeated over and over, become engrained, part of the folklore, the fables, the myth.
We are told, by the most self confident teachers and "historians" that Lee was against slavery - and there was a letter to prove it. Well that proved it, right, the letter to his wife proved he was anti slavery?
Oh hell no. Read the whole letter, it's actually a tenacious defense of slavery and the torture of slaves. And far more than that letter, which defends slavery tenaciously, and calls slavery a "spiritual liberty" -- are Lee's own actions. His tortures. His purchase of women. His profit on sale of flesh.
Yes -- Lee's profit was from sale of slaves. Pryor claimed "All Lee ever wanted to become, was a planter." A PLANTER is Orwellian double speak for slave owner, on a slave plantation.
And by the way, slave plantations should be called slave FARMS. Lee did not grow lots of cotton to sell. His money -- and Pryor could show it to us in his own slave ledgers if she wanted to -- came from the sale of blacks, and sending them to various places, and collecting the money for them.
THE MOST TIDY?
Lee was honorable, chaste, brave, tidy, devout..... on and on.
Not just honorable, but the MOST honorable, not just brave, but the most brave. In fact, in the epic, and goofy, biography of Lee that Douglas Southall Freeman won the Pulitzer Prize for, in the index there are four columns of noble human traits, kindness, humility, tidyness (yes, even tidy).
Freeman set out to prove Lee was the most of everything. Whether he was tidy, we can not say.
And Freeman might have got away with his fraud (yes, he knew it was a fraud, he had Lee's dirty letters and knew about Lee's tortures) except -- Lee wrote it down.
Lee wrote letters to, and got letters from, bounty hunters. The letters were about prices, and what to do with certain girls. They were about where to capture who -- including capture of free women (yes, free women, women that were never slaves, and only became slaves, because Lee had them taken from the North).
Let me be clear -- because Pryor, while she artfully mentions this- - is not clear. Lee purchased (illegally) women his hunters found in the North and were able to grab. He did NOT just pay bounty hunters for escaped girls.
As you will see, he bought "others" as well.
Pryor cleverly reports that Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork" and"technically, may have broken the law".
Clever -- because there was not paperwork, time consuming or otherwise, for grabbing free women. But there was money in it -- for the bounty hunter, and for Lee.
WAS IT ALL FRAUD?
So what if Lee bought kidnapped women? So what if he whipped slave girls. He was a man of GOD, and men of GOD thought that at the time, right?
Huh, not really. Most people in the South would not own slaves. Most humans will not tie a girl up to be tortured, and then scream at her as she is tortured, as Lee did (yes, he did, see below).
Lee was not only cruel, as you will see, he was exceptionally cruel.
He did not have to torture girls for escaping. He could have just let them go. But that would just make the others try to escape past the trained dogs Lee had (most slave owners had trained dogs) that could rip apart a slave child as they ran.
You probably did not know -- if a slave woman did escape, despite the dogs, and despite the bounty hunters -- her children could be punished in her place. While Pryor does not even hint at that, it was very much a terror held over the head of any woman who dared try to escape.
Lee's letter to his wife -- read the entire thing -- is a staunch defense of slavery, and torture of slavery. They only showed you a deceptive and small part of it. Gee, I wonder why?
Lee also wrote his wife that blacks were FORTUNATE to be enslaved, the hardship fell on the slave owner. Lee's papers show he had "nothing but disdain" for the slaves, and thought they should appreciate all he did for them!
Strange indeed, then, that he had dozens of slaves try to escape -- yes, he did --and he sent bounty hunters after then all. And followed the progress of their captures.
Lee even paid for slaves to be housed in various jails -- until he could get home and personally see to their tortures. Tortures is the right word.
Think about that -- Lee had them housed in jails, and paid for those jails, until he could be at his slave plantation (well, it belonged to his wife) and greet the poor soul he was about to have whipped.
And yes, he had them whipped -- and as Pryor alludes to, had other physical tortures as well, though she would not make clear what those might be.
SOCIOPATHS IN VIRGINIA?
George Mason, founding Father, wrote that men (like Lee) who were raised from birth to see slaves as subservient beings who deserved torture, were sociopaths (he used the vernacular of the day of course) and predicted they would cause a violent calamity for the United States, in the future.
ONE OF LEES WHITE LOOKING SLAVE GIRLS
She may well be his blood relative, too.
Pryor did not have to even mention what Mason thought, or said, But she did. Why mention Mason, at all? It seems as if Pryor included things like this for a reason. And the only reason could be -- Lee was one of the people Mason warned us about. It's a book about Lee.. and Mason spoke about men who "raised from birth" to see blacks as people to punish, punish for GOD.
Did you know Lee even wrote -- God intends blacks to feel pain? Pain is necessary for their instruction?
Alan Nolan told us 20 years ago, essentially, we need to "start over" about Lee, because what passed for "scholarship" about Lee, was nothing of the sort. He could not know how right he was.
Lee chaste? Not really. Amazingly, he wrote sexually explicit letters -- dirty letters, if you will, to various women over decades. Before and after he was married, he exchanged letters of a sexual nature to various women. Lee was apparently the one bringing up the lurid comments.
For example, Lee boasted about his son's sexual prowess to females. And he spoke of sexual tricks.
Now -- how many women have you ever written to, bragging about your son's sexual ability? Pryor was not going to make it clear -- she never did- - what exactly she was talking about. She could have shown the dirty letters, shown us the words, and given us the name of the women he wrote. No such candidness from Pryor.
KIND? Quite the reverse, actually...
TOO YOUNG TO WHIP
Of all the amazing things in Lee's slave ledgers, revealed by Elizabeth Pryor (she adored Lee, by the way, and tried her best not to besmirch him) it might be this.
Lee not only had slave girls tortured -- that by itself would never make the newspapers. Lee taunted the girl before and during her torture. Let that sink in.
These tortures made the newspapers because Lee's regular overseer (the guy who does the whipping) refused to whip her, because she was too small.
Let me repeat that -- the regular guy REFUSED, due to her young age and small stature.
Lee paid someone else, a bounty hunter who captured her, to whip her. THAT is why it made the papers.
And Lee confirmed this, and more, in his own handwritten slave ledgers.
DONT WORRY PRYOR WON'T SCHOCK YOU
Pryor adores Lee, and was chosen by the Lee family for that purpose.
But Pryor is not in the business of shocking the Lee family, the Virginia Historical Society, or people still stupid enough to believe Lee was a noble, brave, kind man.
As you will see, even for a slave owner, Lee was cruel, which is not an easy task.
1000 ways to say he tortured girls.
Pryor's biggest problem, on every page, was this.
How can I reveal the horrors, the rapes, the tortures, and things like Lee's defense of torture, but not get my car blown up by some deranged Lee fan?
Plus, Pryor worked, literally, for and with the Lee family. They chose her -- and they chose her for a reason. She adores Lee. She adored everything about him and the Southern Mythology. They allowed her -- the first person ever allowed -- to actually study at length all Lee's slave ledgers and letters.
If she wanted to shock you, get headlines in every Southern state, and be hated for an eternity, she could have just told the truth bluntly.
Lee tortured girls, sold children, and even bought kidnapped women from the North, from bounty hunters.
That was not her approach.
She could have related the rapes, tortures, and purchase of kidnapped women on page one. And she could have shown us what exactly in Lee's own papers she saw to confirm not just the torture of slave girls, but the actual letters to and from bounty hunters. She could have told us the price for every capture,
Lee did not just use bounty hunters to capture escaped slaves, he used bounty hunters, as you will see, to capture FREE blacks in the North. Yes, free blacks in the North were captured by bounty hunters, and sold to men like Lee -- and to Lee himself.
Pryor told us that too, carefully as possible.
But Pryor was not about to shock the world.
Yes, Pryor does get in the information above -- Lee's torture of slave girls so young or small, the regular guy refused. So Lee got someone else to do it.
Yet the WAY Pryor relates all these horrors is quite clever. You are never shocked, and she is the opposite of candid, even when she gives you information, it's in a diplomatic, even Orwellian, way.
In fact, I spoke with a history teacher that claimed he read the book closely, and never noticed any whipping of any slave.
Other "historians" have skipped over the newspaper reports of Lee's tortures entirely, or mentioned them in the back of a book, offhandedly as "unreliable" because the accounts did not line up exactly. So they must be false.
Actually, it would be stunning if all three newspaper reports of the tortures were exactly the same, they were all reports from conversations with eye witnesses.
HOW PRYOR CONFIRMED
Pryor no doubt would have loved to dismiss the newspaper reports. But she had Lee's papers. Remember that. On the dates mentioned, Lee did in fact, enter into his his own slave ledgers (Pryor never calls them slave ledgers, but the more diplomatic "monthly account books".) but there was that nasty fact of confirmation after the Civil War, when reporters went to Arlington and talked to free slaves employed there as grave diggers.
The reporters found a former slave who confirmed the details - which is a BFD, because he could not possibly have seen Lee's slave ledgers to line up his story with that, nor would he know anything about the newspaper reports before the war.
So you not only have the newspaper reports, you have confirmation after the war, and Lee's own papers.
This was NOT shocking to anyone alive in 1860, by the way. Escaped slaves were tortured, chased and tortured. The lists of tortures for run away slaves included burning to death, cutting off hands, plucking out eyes. Books at the time documented the punishments given to escaped slaves.
You did not have to torture that many, or pluck out the eyes of that many, before the others got the message. Terror was at the heart of slavery, and if anyone thinks otherwise, they are nuts.
Lee was actually more cruel, not less cruel, than other slave owners, amazingly. Just in case you want to play the "on balance" game, Pryor also points out Lee had nothing but contempt for his slaves. Lee's amazing letter to his wife, posits he and his wife as the victims, the slaves as fortunate to be enslaved, where their souls could be redeemed for Christ, unlike the heathens in Africa.
SLAVES DID NOT FULLY AGREE WITH LEE'S THEORY
If the subject were not the torture of slave girls, it would almost be comical the lengths to which Pryor goes -- or depths she descends to -- to cover for Lee. Lee had "every right" to protect his property, she claims. She seems to take Lee's side when he complained -- seriously - that the slaves did not appreciate him!
But at times, she goes past clever absurdities, to outright lies. For example, she makes it seem on the surface as if Lee rarely had slaves tortured. She writes about Lee installing a whipping post as soon as he took over discipline of the slaves -- as a "SILENT REMINDER" to the slaves.
Silent? Hardly. Nice try there, Ms Pryor. There was nothing silent about those torture post. Lee had girls tied up there, and tortured.
By the way -- according to the newspapers, Lee taunted the girls before the torture, and screamed at them all through the torture. Do you know what he screamed, non stop?
No -- but you know the name of his horse -- Traveller. And you know the name of his pet chicken -- Pearl. Maybe to understand Lee, you should know what he yelled over and over, at the girl being tortured?
"HIT HER HARDER, HIT HER HARDER"
Pryor does not tell you this, but black overseers -- the ones who did the whipping --were feared by slaves more than white overseers. The black overseer himself could be whipped if he dared attempted to take it easy on a slave. A white overseer could not be tortured. Fired maybe, but not tortured.
In this case of the girl being tortured, Lee kept yelling "Hit her harder, hit her harder" or in the lexicon of the day "Lay it on, Lay it on".
Can you imagine screaming to hit a child harder? Blood ran down her back and pooled on the ground.
Did she beg for mercy? Maybe -- the newspapers did not report that. But what would a child do while being tortured?
We know what Lee did -- screamed to hit her harder.
So it was no "silent reminder" and Pryor knew that, but she did that kind of thing, or worse, to cover up for Lee in every case.
You have to read her work CLOSELY.
On another page, Pryor casually mentions whipping was Lee's "prefered" discipline.
What would make her say that. What did she see?
Remember, Pryor did not talk to witness, she went entirely by Lee's own papers. There had to be something in his own handwriting for her to say such a thing. What was it?
Why not just release all those papers? There is only one reason not to -- they are horrific. Otherwise, just release them. Pryor's job, essentially, was to white wash and mollify Lee's horrors as much as possible.
HIS ONLY CONCERN IN LIFE
LEADING SOULS TO CHRIST
People only know what they are told, and for generations now, the myth of Lee as a man who cared only to "bring souls to Christ" and other absurdities, has been taken literally, to the point a Pulitizer Prize winning author claimed Lee is now " seated next to Christ, his Lord" in heaven.
You just can't beat that. I dare you to try. Lee sits next to Christ in heaven. Go on, really, try to beat that.
Pryor tells us Lee paid 600% higher prices for capture of girls. Why? She never would tell us, or speak clearly about, his purchase of "others" . Pryor tells us Lee paid for "others" in context of Fugitive Slave Act. She artfully says "Technically, Lee may have broken the law".
Lee, she claims in another cross over to deception, rather than double speak -- "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork" for some of the people his bounty hunters brought him.
What the hell "time consuming paperwork" does she think existed for capture of anyone? We can't know, until we see Lee's own papers, but it's stupid to think anything other than this -- Lee bought "others" -- other blacks -- that his bounty hunters captured. And that would of course be against the law, and against any decency whatsoever.
But if you are going to torture slave girls for trying to escape, as Lee did, and defend the torture of slaves (yes Lee defended their torture in writing) as ordained by GOD, why on earth NOT pay bounty for captured free blacks. What's the difference?
Did not God ordain it? Lee said God did.
Did not GOD ordain torture ? Lee wrote that slaves "Must enditure painful disciplilne"
Pain, Lee wrote, was "necessary for their instruction". And Lee did "instruct" those slaves, with a whip.
So, what the hell would prevent him from paying 100 dollars for a captured woman? The answer is NOTHING.
Failed to fill out the time consuming paper work, Pryor wrote.
Now, think that over. Think real hard.
why would Lee pay so much higher prices for 12-14 year old girls? Did he like to talk to them about bridge construction?
Maybe he enjoyed the way they spoke? There had to be a reason -- because Lee was a sane man, not a lunatic -- that Lee paid that much higher prices for girls of a certain age.
But you are not told that fact -- until now.
Pryor does tell us -- in as careful a way as humanly possible -- that Lee bought girls.
It's like pulling her own teeth -- Pryor does not want to do this. She does not want to mention that Lee bought girls, but he did.
She writes that as if Lee paid this money for the CAPTURE of escaped slaves.
Look closer. Look real close. Yes, Pryor admits Lee paid for the capture of escaped slaves, she even admits he had them 'discipline" -- tortured -- by whip and other means.
But look again. Pryor relates- - carefully mentions -- that Lee paid for "others".
You have to chase that dog around a bit, but Pryor, when she admits Lee paid for "others" -- she was writing about his payment for women kidnapped from the North.
Blacks were kidnapped from the North -- it was a lucrative business. Lee paid bounty hunters not only for the escaped women, but for "others".
ADORING LEE A PROFITABLE SCAM
Did you know there is an actual award given to the writer who can praise Lee the most effusively? It is named after the most flattering Lee biography, named after Cooke, who wrote an unintentionally hilarious book about Lee.. You can not know it's hilarious, however, unless you know bout Lee's actual tortures, purchase of kidnapped women, his disdain for religion, and his obsession with bounty hunters and punishing escaped slaves.
The typical biography of Lee is almost difficult to read, even if you believe every word. Lee is the MOST wonderful, brave, religious, anti-slavery, patriotic, cleanest, devoted, faithful, and chaste man ever born.
In the Lee biography most folks assume is "definitive" -- Douglas Southall Freeman is the author -- he actually has four columns in his index about noble human qualities, then sets out to prove Lee was the best at each quality. He was not just chaste, but the most chaste (never mind he wrote sexually explicit letters to various women for decades). Never mind that rape was common at Arlington, and Lee either participated or knew it was common, and profited from the rapes.
How do you profit from rapes? Lee sold and rented out slaves- - that was how his "plantation" made money. He didn't sell vegetibles. He sold human flesh, a basic fact glossed over in every Lee biogrphaphy.
If the Lee family would show the slave ledgers -- Pryor referred to them carefully as "monthly account books, but they were accounts about profit and loss of slave dealings -- we would know exactly how much Lee made.
He wrote it all down.
WHY IT WAS NECESSARY TO BE WACKOABOUT ESCAPED SLAVES
Yes, Lee had an obsession about capturing escaped slaves -- especially the young women. But why?
Because if you allowed 10 or 20 slaves to escape (Pryor tells us Lee had a dozen slaves escape at one time, and likely, there were many others) -- you soon didn't have anyone left, but those too old, sick, or young, to do the work, or give you slave babies.
And slave babies -- the flesh from flesh -- was were the money was. As soon as a child could work, it worked, and if the price was right, rented out. Maybe rented out nearby, maybe sent to the deep South, maybe sold.
Pryor hints at such a reality -- Lee, she admits, was WORSE than most slave owners, who tried to keep mother and child together. Lee would "separate families" which is Pryor's Orwellian double speak for selling the mother or child. He didn't care, he did what got the most money.
So keep that in mind, if you read Pryor's book, and you see the part about Lee paid so much extra for girls.
And he tortured -- yes tortured - any slave who tried to escape -for the same reason. That was his money. And he was not going to let a slave girl escape. He would send hunters after her, for as long as it took.
Lee didn't much care -- he gave BOUNTY payments. The bounty hunters only got paid if they got the flesh and brought it back to him. There was not just one bounty hunter, there were hundreds of bounty hunters.
And they didn't care much if the black girls they captured in the North were escaped slaves or not. They got paid -- paid by men like Lee -- for the flesh.
HOW "HISTORIANS" GOT IT SO FUCKING WRONG?
How did "historians" come to the conclusion that Lee was anti-slavery? That his slaves servants loved him? That he only cared about "winning souls to Christ" bullshit?
Understand this -- No one alive when Lee was alive, including Lee, said his only goal in life was to "bring men to Christ" -- no one alive, when Lee was alive, said he was against slavery, or that he freed his slaves before the war, or that his slaves loved him.
No one alive when Lee was alive, said Lee was kind to his slaves.
And yes -- contrary to what your smug uncle, your misinformed teacher may have told you, Lee not only owned his own slaves, not only "managed" his wife's slaves, Lee bought more slaves.
And he bought them -- at least some of them -- from bounty hunters.
And Lee defended the torture (yes, torture) of slaves, including slave girls, in his own handwriting. See more below.
PRYOR TELLS IT CAREFULLY
SHE ADORES LEE
SHE WORKED FOR THE LEE FAMILY
But wow, what she found. How do you tell the Lee family that their hero bought kidnapped women (yes, kidnapped women) that Lee's bounty hunters found in the North, and captured, illegally?
How do you tell the Lee family that their hero wrote dirty letters -- sexually explicit -- to various women, for decades?
How do you tell the Virginia Historical Society, in a way that doesn't get your car blown up the next time you start it, that Lee had various tortures he used on slave girls, and used the tortures - torture is the right word -- regularly.
Far from Lee freeing his slaves, Pryor carefully relates that Lee's biggest problem was escaped slaves!!
Pryor -- as you will see -- would never spell anything out candidly. She related things in as diplomatic, as soft spoken, and as non-shocking way as humanly possible. Typically Pryor would not even mention Lee's name in the paragraph about his tortures, his bounty hunter payments.
Pryor couched whatever she wrote, however, in flattery. Or double speak, or both.
Such as the funniest line in her book (she did not mean it to be funny ) Lee's slaves "did not fully agree with his theory of labor management".
Did not fully agree? Labor management? As she relates herself, Lee defended the torture (she did not say torture, but it was) of slaves as being ordained by God. God "knew and intended" slaves feel pain. Pain, Lee wrote, was "necessary for their instruction."
Lee's father had a slave girl hung -- to death -- because she knocked down a white man. No one even bothered to mention why she would knock down a white man, but she was pregnant - 8 months pregnant -- and 15.
Was the white man whipping her? Raping her? Taking a child from her, to sell? Taking her mother away? All of those things happened on slave farms. But so unimportant it was WHY she would knock this white man down, no one bothered to write that down.
She was hung.
That is how Lee grew up -- and the myth of kind slave owners was never true. At any time, any slave could be tortured, sold, whipped, or even they fought back, burned to death or hung.
Slavery HAD to be based on violence, as Lincoln and many others pointed out. You did not have to torture every slave -- hang one girl up to be whipped until the blood pooled around her feet- - make the others watch, and they got the idea.
Lee's amazing letter -- one of many.
Lee insisted his slaves were lazy. He and his wife both, according to Pryor, thought the slaves should be more grateful to them. Lee insisted slaves were fortunate to be slaves -- the imposition was to the slave owner, he told his wife, in one of the most amazing letters ever written.
That letter -- two sentences in it -- are used thousands of times, in thousands of classes to show folks Lee was against slavery.
Uh -- read the whole letter- - and more importantly, learn what Lee did.
Slavery was of God, and it is evil - yes evil -- for anyone to even attempt to end it other than by prayer.
In fact, Lee equated slavery with "spiritual liberty".
HAD TO TELL HIS WIFE SOMETHING
That Lee had slave girls tortured is not even debatable, when you know his own hand written records validate a horrific torture Lee imposed on one girl for trying to escape.
Escaped slaves was Lee's biggest problem, Pryor wrote. She could have given us much more information behind that, like show us the letters and entries in his records, about it.
Pryor knew, for example, that at one time, Lee's hunters were looking for 12 escaped slaves.
Pryor knew, too, that Lee paid 600% more bounty for the capture of girls of a certain age- - about 14.
Now -- why why -- would Lee paid so much extra for girls of a certain age? Was he stupid? Was he silly. Did he want them back for their singing voice? Did they recite poetry he liked?
You can figure it out, but the fact is, Lee was eager to get slave girls back, and apparently, get more. Pryor wont tell us the gender of "others" that Lee bought from bounty hunters, who captured the "others" in the North. But it's a good bet, the hunters brought him WOMEN. FEMALES
He paid much more for females. Six times as much.
How is it then, that virtually no one knows Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, and letters to bounty hunters, still exist?
How is it, then, we don't know Lee turned kidnapped women (kidnapped illegally in the North) into slave women?
How is it we did not know -- and teach -- the very open fact at the time, that Lee had his soldiers kidnap hundreds of free blacks in the North, during the way, and had those blacks taken South, and there sold as slaves?
TENDENCY TO BULLSHIT
Actual "historians" wrote that kind of nonsense about Lee -- some got "Pulitzer Prizes" for books so goofy, they should not be in history section of any library.
It's not that EVERY historian fell into line completely. Historian Alan Nevins dared to suggest we need to "start over" about Lee --in 1991 -- because what we had was, to oversimplify him, what we had was bullshit.
Even Nolan, however, dared not to say anything specifically negative about lee -- in fact, he seemed to bend over backwards to praise Lee on almost every page, despite criticizing those who did that themselves.
Nolan, though, almost had to do that, in order not to be shot at book signings.
Nolan could have no clue -at all -- how right he was, because he never got to see Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, and letters to and from bounty hunters.
In fact, only one person that we know of, was allowed to actually study Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, and bounty hunters letters.
She wrote a clever book about those dirty letters, bounty hunter letters, and slave ledgers. Her name was Elizabeth Pryor, who sadly passed away in automobline accident April 1, 2015. But her book remains.
Remaining, too, unless the Lee family destroyed them by now, are Lee's dirty letters, slave ledgers, and letters to/from bounty hunters.
Repeating myths, adding to them, work. It works to sell books -- and worked very well from 1880-1950, about Lee. Basically the books repeated bullshit from previous books, but who could, who would, refute that bullshit?
Others repeated it, endlessly, adding their own nonsense. Smug "history teachers" pumped it up, and sold it to generations. Not out of malice or eagerness to distort, but pumping out bullshit is a rewarding pastime.
(To those of you who never knew historians are often full of bullshit, and spread that bullshit proudly, not just about Lee, this may be a shock.)
During Lee's life - no one claimed he didn't own slaves. No one claimed his "servants" loved him so much they refused to leave when freed.
Dozens of books, however, in the 1880's and 1890's, capitalized on the nostalgia for adoration of Confederate leaders. Almost hilariously, the books had to have more goofy preposterous things to say about Lee, than the other guy.
For example, John Cooke came up with the goofy story that Lee -- and all his staff officers-- would dismount during battle, as bombs blew up around them, and stood in "profound respect" as someone would pray.
No one said a thing about that at the time -- none of the staff officers mentioned it.
Who in their right mind gets off their horse and stands in silence, with dozen or two dozen other officers, as bombs blow up around them? Not LEE!! Lee was "well in the rear" anyway. I
When bounty hunters brought to Lee black women -- kidnapped from the North, Lee did not rush out and go "Oh my God, you poor child. You are not an escaped slave. You are a free girl from the North. I will have you taken immediately back to your loved ones. I am so sorry"
Lee took a different approach.
He bought the women, turned them into slaves.
And he would do that, on much larger scale, during the Civil War.
Lee is the only soldier in US history, to have civilians rounded up during a war, taken to another country, and there, sold as slaves.
LEE THE PLANTER?
WHAT DOES "MANAGE SLAVES" MEAN.
In the typical Lee biography, the language is necessarily double speak, even Orwellian.
For example, Pryor and others will tell you Lee took much time off from the military to "manage" the "plantation".
But in candid, honest terms, manage slaves meant this -- sell these slaves (yes, Lee sold slaves) buy others, "discipline" others. Put fear in the hearts and minds.
Lee stated in his own letter (that some use, idiotically, to prove Lee was anti slavery) that pain was necessary for their instruction.
Slaves "must endure painful discipline" Pain is "necessary for their instruction".
In the bizzaro world of history bullshit, you can take one disingenous sentence, ignore all the other sentences Lee wrote, ignore his slave ledgers, the newspapers, the letters to and from bounty hunters, and claim that proves Lee was against slavery.
Lee was very very much "into" slavery.
Lee personally suggested places for bounty hunters to look, and apparently sent the bounty hunters on long trips- -into the North.
Yes, the North is where the escaped slaves would go, and yes, the Fugative Slave Act required the Northern authorities to return the escaped slaves.
But if Lee was anti slavery -- why on earth did he have bounty hunters go on long trips to capture them.
Pryor tells that Lee, at one time, had 12 escaped slaves -- but he may have had many more at various times. According to Pryor, Lee's slaves hated and feared him, called him "the worst man we ever knew".
Just in case you think Lee's slaves loved him - hell no. That is not reflected in his own slave ledgers and letters.
Lee may or may not have personally tortured the slave girls, but he did taunt the girls before the torture, and scream at them during the torture, according to accounts at the time. Those accounts are validated- - remember that - validated by Lee's own papers, Pryor tells us. Exactly what she found, Pryor is rather coy about. But she did admit the newspapers were validated by each other, and by Lee's own paperwork.
And by discipline,as you will see, Lee meant whip. In fact, as Pryor so artfully relates, in a way that doesn't scare the shit out of readers, one of the first things Lee did when he took over "management" of the slaves, was to install a whipping post.
That's right, Lee had a whipping post installed. No doubt, the slaves themselves had to build and install their own device, to be tortured. And torture is the right word.
WHAT DOES "PLANTER MEAN"
Lee was a "Planter" Lee "managed" his servants.
Pryor tells us -- "All Lee ever wanted to be, was a Planter"
Planter is Orwellian double speak for slave owner. Lee not only never planted anything-- his cash crop was not cotton or vegetables or chickens. His cash crop was HUMAN BEINGS -- their flesh, and their labor.
Most people assume - wrongly -- that Lee must have grown food, cotton, or tobacco. To the extent his slaves grew any of that, Lee's ledgers -- and Pryor could show this -- show Lee's rentals and sales of slaves, purchases of slaves, farming out this slave or that, was how he got his money.
And yes, Lee used slave auctions. Pryor admits that, too, but as she does everything, in a way not to stun the shit out of anyone.
No. As you will see, Pryor tells us nearly everything, in a very "uncandid" way -- but no one else came close to telling us what Lee actually did, in clever ways, or not.
Some biographies of Lee claim he didn't even own any -- they got that information from others, who said the same thing.
But Lee not only had slaves, Lee was very much into selling, renting, and getting more slaves. That's the kind of information in his slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters.
POWER OF BULLSHIT
As we learn from Lee's own papers, Lee turned free women INTO slaves. He bought women from bounty hunters, who captured luckless free blacks in the North, on their trips to capture escaped slaves.
The bounty hunters didn't really care if the woman they captured was an escaped slave, or not. Thousands of free blacks were captured -- kidnapped really -- and sold to men like Lee , and to Lee specifically.
Lee's papers show that. In the most artful doubletalk of her book, Pryor relates that Lee paid for "others". He paid the bounty hunters for capturing escaped slaves (and he paid much higher prices, 600% higher prices, for escaped girls) and he paid for "others".
Others -- others. Lee paid for others. Very clever.
So polished -- so smooth -- is Pryor's prose, that no reviewer of her work seemed to notice, much less mention -- why not just show the ledgers? Why not show or quote Lee verbatum.
For example, Pryor relates Lee paid for "others". She could have said something like "In Lee's letter to his Bounty Hunter Toombs, and in his slave ledger, Lee records 2,000 dollar payment for capture of the following slaves, and 450 dollars for purchase of the following blacks that were not slaves".
There is material -- Lee's own handwritten material -- for all of this. Pryor choses never to show it, or mention it in a candid, stark, but honest way.
But Pryor would never be candid -- at all - about the documents she reports on. She refused to even call his slave ledgers by their candid name -- slave ledgers. She calls them, and refers only once, to "monthly account books".
MONTHLY ACCOUNT BOOKS
Monthly "account" books, receipts, letters to bounty hunters, letters to and from assorted women (Lee wrote a "number" of women, for decades, and some were sexually explicit)
If Lee had destroyed his slave ledgers, dirty letters, bounty hunter letters..we would never know
The myth of Lee would still be a travesty to the women he tortured, the children he sold, the women he turned into slaves.
Yes, Lee turned free women INTO slaves -- as you will see. His bounty hunters were not picky -- they would search for escaped slaves, but bring him "others" according to his slave ledgers. See how Pryor handles that below.
She told us -- but in a clever and diplomatic way. Doubtless she was not about to infuriate the Lee family. She worked literally side by side with the Lee family, in a sense, she worked for the Lee family.
WHO WERE THE OTHERS
HOW DID PRYOR GET THAT INFORMATION?
The "OTHERS" Lee got from bounty hunters were black women living in the North, free women. People today are almost clueless that in Northern Virginia (Lee lived only 2 miles from the White House) buying kidnapped women, and men, was a business opportunity.
Men like Lee, who claimed God ordained slavery (see below) and that he was doing the black a favor by enslaving them, did not think it horrible to accept black women from bounty hunters. As bounty hunters rode up to Lee's plantation, their slaves and "others" in chains walking along, Lee did not rush out and go "Oh my God, you poor child. You are not an escaped slave. You are a free girl from the North. I will have you taken immediately back to your loved ones. I am so sorry".
No -- Lee took a different approach. He bought them.
But Pryor does tell us he paid for "others". She would not list their names, though she could have. She would not list the prices Lee paid, though she could have.
Remember, Pryor GOT THAT INFORMATION FROM LEE'S OWN HAND WRITTEN LETTERS AND LEDGERS.
Yes, Lee was one of those men, according to his slave ledgers.
And why not? If God -- as he said -- ordained slavery. If GOD delivered the other blacks to him, this was "Providence"
PRYOR NOT OUT TO TRASH
Pryor had a problem -- the "horrors" she saw in his slave ledgers, (she even calls them horrors) are not what she expected, and not what the Lee family hired her to do.
Pryor worked literally with the Lee family and Virginia Historical society, on this project.
The project was to do a review of the hand written papers Lee did not destroy himself, and which the family kept in two trunks.
Scholars knew of the trunks -- and wanted to get their hands on them for 100 years. But as you will see, there were good reason not to show the papers to the public.
And they STILL won't show those papers to the public.
Instead, the Lee family allowed one person to actually study those papers for months.
CORRELATING DATE SKILLS
It's likely the Lee family had little idea what the hell were in the papers, if a scholar like Pryor got them, and could correlate, for example, newspapers from the era, and dated papers in Lee's own handwriting.
For example, no doubt Pryor already knew of newspaper reports of Lee's amazingly cruel torture of slave girls -- and his capture of free black women in the North (yes, in the North) that Lee ordered. Lee had his soldiers gather black men, women, and children, regardless if they were free or slaves, regardless of anything. There is no dispute whatsoever that Lee had his men capture hundreds of free blacks in the North during his invasion of Pennsylvania -- and that those blacks were taken to slave auction, where they were sold.
Who got the money from selling that flesh -- Pryor did not say. But she might well have known, there might well be entries in Lee's ledgers.
MAGIC OF BULLSHIT
But thru the magic of repeating bullshit, a man who had slave girls tortured, a man who bought kidnapped free black women from the North, and turned them into slaves (yes he did) and a man who essentially wrote that God wanted him to inflict pain on slaves, turns by repeating bullshit, into a "great man of GOD, who was against slavery".
No, Lee was not against slavery. His actions and letters (read the full letters) show Lee defended slavery, and defended the torture of slaves, with a religious tenacity. Others did the same thing -- but Lee did it on bigger scale. Lee used bounty hunters, then later soldiers, to grab free blacks in the North.
This is not the only time, nor is Lee the only person, to be entirely different in the myth made up by others. Nor will he be the last.
NEWSPAPERS AT THE TIME REPORTED
Most people today have no clue that Newspapers at the time reported Lee's torture of slave girls.
Not that whipping a slave girl made the papers-- but Lee ordered his regular overseer to whip the girl, and the oversee refused because she was so young.
So called historians -- who could recite every line of Lee's myth -- naturally refused to believe those papers, if they ever even knew about them.
But Pryor -- who had Lee's slave ledgers and letters to/ from bounty hunters, confirmed Lee did indeed record, on those dates, information in his own handwriting, that verified the tortures.
To her credit -- and rather surprisingly -- Pryor makes it emphatic, Lee's own handwritten entries in slave legers and letters, validate the story of the torture of this girl. Pryor blames the girl -- Lee had every right to protect his property, seems to be Pryor's justification.
Pryor also notes, elsewhere in the book, that torture -- physical torture (painful discipline) was not unusual. Lee's "prefered" way to "discipline" the slaves was the whip. He had other ways -- chemical torture (really) like pouring salt on open wounds.
As an eye witness to the girl's torture stated --and he was there -- Lee did it to increase her pain, but to keep the scars, which would last for life, to a minumum.
But Lee had other tortures, as well, psychological terror -a woman could lose her child, a child lose their mother, as easily as Lee telling an overseer to take this child or mother to auction, or to send this mother or child to that plantation deep in the South, and Lee got the money. Pryor notes that Lee would separate "families" which means, separate the mother from the child.
Typically, a slave child did not know who the father was, and the biological father was, often as not, a white man at Arlington. So when Pryor talks about breaking up families, she knew quite well the horror -- Lee sold the mother or the child.
She could have been more clear about what she found, and show us, quote the material verbatum. There is a very good reason she never did that, on any of the "horrors" --the vile nature of what she found in the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters, were too vile for her to be candid about.
She did the best she could.
1 OF MANY THINGS YOU NEVER HEARD
Yet, you never even heard that Lee's slave's skin tone -- white in come cases -- was an issue. Pryor's book tells us that, and much much more, in a very careful way.
More people know the name of Robert E Lee's pet chicken than know he had girls captured and tortured.
Which is more informative, more important, to know the character of a man? To know the name of his pet chicken (Pearl) or know who he tortured, and why, and what he did during the torture of girls so small, his regular "torture guy" refused to whip her.
Let me repeat that -- Lee had a girl tortured that was so small, so young, his regular guy refused to whip her. Lee had to hire a nearby bounty hunter, to whip her.
How do we know? From his slave ledgers. He validated -- yes, Lee's own slave ledgers, in his own handwriting, validated the overlapping newspaper reports of his torture.
The news of Lee torturing a slave girl, only made the paper because his regular guy refused to whip her. Whipping a slave girl was not news. But the fact his regular guy said no - that was news.
Pryor's book -- see the book described more below -- could have opened with the story of Lee's torture of slaves, and particularly the torture of one special girl. Pryor could have -- and should have -- shown us the actual letters and slave ledger entries.
WORKED WITH LEE FAMILY
Pryor, however, was not out to defame, or even besmirch Lee. Quite the opposite.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Posted by Seeker at 6:25 AM