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"Hang on Lee lovers -- this could be a bumpy ride."
Have you ever heard of Lee's slave ledgers?
How about his bounty hunter letters?
We actually teach -- in Virginia -- the name of Lee's pet chicken, as part of the smorgasbord of bullshit and myth that qualifies as "scholarship" today.
If not for Lee's own slave ledgers, and his own bounty hunter letters, and his own dirty letters, the myth makers could force this vile man into a God like man of virtue, forever.
Even Pulitzer Prize winning "historians" have told us emphatically, and with great self confidence Lee didn't even have slaves, he hated slavery. In fact we are told Lee's servants loved him so much, that when he freed them they refused to leave!
But when you learn about Lee's torture of slave girls for trying to escape -- even small slave girls were tortured as you will see- -you should wonder who to slap first, if you had the chance.
Slap Lee? Or slap the creeps that lied about him, and got away with it so well, we teach the lies.
We have yet to dare to teach the ugly truth about an ugly man.
We were all told -- by text books, by movies, by smug teachers, that not only was Lee a military genius, not only was he a man of high principle, but that Lee was anti-slavery. It's common to hear one high school teacher outdo the other in how Lee "hated" slavery.
Since everyone said so -- the movies, the teachers, the books, they could not all be wrong? No way -- there are "books with indexes and everything" said one person, who refused to believe Lee would be so drastically different than taught.
What else could we believe? None of us were there, we only know what our myth makers told us.
What if Lee's own letters, slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters, and even sexual letters to various women for decades, has a profoundly different story.
In Lee's own handwriting.
What if we need to start over about Lee -- as Alan Nolan said 25 years ago, because what he saw was not scholarship at all, about Lee, but simply repeating myths made up by (essentially) fiction writers in the 1870's and 1880's
For 150 years no one was allowed to study Lee's slave ledgers...until now.
You are about to find out why.
More people know the name of Lee's pet chicken (Pearl) than know the name of any of the slave girls he had tortured. (Yes, Lee had girls tortured - and torture is the right word).
Children in Virginia are taught the name of the pet chicken. Children actually visit the burial site of Lee's horse.
Children that go see the burial site for the dead Lee horse have no clue that feet from where they stand looking at a grave for a horse, are the unmarked graves of Lee's slaves.
Some of those slave girls -- as you will see -- Lee had tortured for trying to escape, per his own slave ledgers.
THE FIRST PERSON TO BE ALLOWED TO STUDY THE SLAVE LEDGERS
Elizabeth Pryor wrote an amazing -- and very careful --- book about Lee's "personal papers." It's almost as if she wrote two books in one, as you will see.
On one level, Pryor is "adorational" about Lee, who she seemed to adore. But on another level, in her clever details, in her euphemisms and details, she shows a cruel, almost sadistic man, but did not want to make that clear.
The "famous" trunks full of Lee's papers,
including his slave ledgers. Pryor with members of the Lee family and Virginia Historical Society.
1) PRYOR ADORES LEE
SHE IS NOT OUT TO TRASH HIM.
2) THERE IS A REASON LEE FAMILY KEPT THE SLAVE LEDGERS PRIVATE
3) PRYOR KNOWS THE REASON
Pryor was a Lee "devotee". She apparently adored Lee before she had access to his personal papers.
More than anything, Pryor "was on Lee's side".
While she admits Lee had slaves tortured (torture is the right word) she blamed the slaves, saying absurdly "Lee had every right to protect his property," as if torturing escaped slaves is protecting his property.
Pryor even goes further, into absurdities-- for example she claimed, hilariously, that the "slaves did not completely agree with Lee's theory of labor management."
Think about that for a minute.
Pryor admits Lee regularly (yes regularly) had slaves tortured for trying to escape, in fact she claimed it was a law that he had to torture them (no, he did not have to torture them.)
Pryor admitted escaped slaves was Lee's biggest problem.
Given that slaves would be -- and were -- tortured serverly for trying to escape, what does that tell you that so many slaves tried to escape?
When Pryor writes that Lee's slave said he was "the worst man we ever saw" -- Pryor may be giving you a hint. She never explains why the slave said that, but she got it from Lee's own papers. Why not tell us more -- or show us in Lee's own papers, the context and actual information that made her write that the slaves said he "was the worst man we ever saw".
WHO WRITES THAT WAY?
GEORGE ORWELL MUCH?
To write a sentence like "slaves did not completely agree with Lee's theory of labor management" almost makes you wonder if she was drinking, or joking.
Stunningly, professional "historians" reviewed the book and praised it. I haven't seen all their reviews, but the ones I have seen don't seem remotely aware of Pryor's at times bizzare phrasing.
Did not completely agree?
There are other bizarre phrasing -- as you will see. For rapes, which Pryor admits were common, she writes that "coercion was used in some situations".
Who used coercion? She does not say. Why not say?
What coercion? A whip?
Remember, Pryor got this information from his papers. She did not get this information from a duck, or from vibrations. She got this exact information about the rapes from his own handwritten papers.
So what was written down?
Threats of taking your child? Threats of sending you to the deep South? What?
She does not say-- why not say? There is a good reason for her not to say, she could have, and was a marvelous writer who could have made this very clear. She could have simply shown us the information in Lee's own papers-- but she would not do that.
Who was raped? Children? Young girls?
Pryor made sure -- as she often did -- that when she wrote of such horrors, she made it vague, often using passive voice, and Orwellian double speak.
Did they read the book, or just skim it? Serious question. Skimming the book you could easily assume Lee was "a bit flawed" but basically the same kind, lovable guy of the myth.
With every revelation of the ugly (and there is plenty of ugly) Pryor came up with an excuse. As we will cover below, Pryor tried to dismiss any notion that Lee was cruel, despite their is documented evidence that he screamed at slave girls as he had them tortured. Pryor claimed, absurdly, that those punishments to the slaves was due not to Lee's apparent sadism, but to " Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".
ALMOST TWO SEPARATE BOOKS?
Over and over, practically on every page, Pryor minimizes, excuses, and blames other for what Lee did.
Yet she also has the hutzpah and honesty to get in -- never mind the careful way she does so -- Lee's ugly and cruel treatment of slave women particularly.
For example, Pryor, to her eternal credit, was surprisingly candid about Lee's torture of a slave girl for trying to escape. She even told the reader that the three newspapers that reported Lee screamed at a slave girl as he had her whipped.
What did he scream? As she was being whipped, he yelled "Hit her harder, hit her harder" -- or in the vernacular of the day "Lay it on, lay it on" -- meaning hit her harder.
Pryor could have easily softballed that one, she did not have to make that clear. She seemed to go out of her way to validate the newspaper accounts, by admitting Lee's own handwritten papers confirmed the names, dates, payments to the bounty hunters, etc, involved in that particular torture (again, torture is the right word).
Pyor, of course, does not call it torture. She called it "discipline" as did Lee.
MOLLIFY THE FAMILY ?
it's impossible to tell, of course, but perhaps Pryor had to do this to mollify the Lee family and Virginia Historical Society. They gave her permission,she worked under their guidance and permission. Whatever agreement, stated or otherwise, they had about what she could expose, and how she would say it, we know nothing about.
She did such a good job of protecting Lee overall that she got good reviews even from the Journal of Southern History, not exactly known for patting folks on the back for exposing rapes, tortures, and other horrors committed by their heroes.
VERY GOOD REASON
There is a very good reason for Lee family to keep people away from Robert E Lee slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters: they didn't want you to know.
While they did, after 150 years, allow one person to study them, the Lee family and Virginia Historical society have not allowed the actual slave ledgers to even be photographed, much less published.
The same thing with the bounty hunter letters. No photographs, and of course, no publication of them.
WHAT THE SLAVE LEDGERS MUST INCLUDE
Because of information Pryor reveals, the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters must include prices Lee paid for women captured by those bounty hunters. Pryor, using his own handwritten papers, tells us the prices and even compares the prices of young girls to prices of old men.
Lee's papers include Lee's comments about slave girls, and about sick slave children. Lee, according to Pryor (who had Lee's papers) said Lee "wished the children would die quickly."
PRYOR WAS A LEE DEVOTEE
THE WORST MAN WE EVER SAW
ESCAPED SLAVES LEE'S BIGGEST PROBLEM
Pryor also told us -- because she had his papers- - that Lee's slaves said Lee "was the worst man we ever saw". That came from Lee's own papers. Pryor could have, and should have, made it clear why they said that, which slaves, and what she found in Lee's papers to give her than information.
So no, Lee's slaves did not love him.
ESCAPED SLAVES --COULD PASS FOR WHITE
One of Lee's white looking slave girls.
Pryor even tells us -- cleverly -- that one of the escaped slave women could "pass for white".
If you can pass for white -- you are white. There is no genetic test for race, and certainly Lee never had such a test.
In fact, over 50% of Lee's slaves were mulatto -- of mixed race.
Let that sink in. Pryor tells us that most slave plantations had below 10% mullato slaves. Lee had "over half".
"INCREASINGLY WHITES ARE ENSLAVING OTHER WHITES"
Pryor tells us why -- "increasingly whites were enslaving other whites". Lee was not only no exception, Lee had a preposterously high level of mixed race slaves.
There can be only one reason for this.
Unless Lee would personally buy white looking women at auction --those white looking slaves were born from the mixed race slaves at Arlington -- and almost certainly the mother was impregnated by a white man.
Pryor also tells us, carefully as always, that rape was common. You can not have consensual sex with a slave. A slave woman had no choice but to obey. By the high number of white or light skinned slaves at Lee's slave plantation, it's foolish to think rape was not common.
LEE'S BIGGEST PROBLEM -- ESCAPED SLAVES
LEE'S BIGGEST PROBLEM -- ESCAPED SLAVES
Pryor relates that Lee's bounty hunters were chasing 12 escaped slaves, at one time -- and that escaped slaves was Lee's biggest problem.
Pryor could have given us names, prices, dates of escape, she could have given us so much more detail. But at least she told us -- cleverly or otherwise, absolving Lee of all guilt or not -- more than anyone else has so far.
SLAVERY IS UGLY
Slavery itself was ugly, no matter which fool or liar tries to claim otherwise. Lee was as bad as, if not worse, than others.
Slavery was based on violence, spread by violence. Slave owners could and did decide life and death issues -- including who a slave woman slept with, who got to impregnate her, and what was done with her child.
Pryor could only tell us (as she does) about Lee's white looking slave girls, about the prices he paid to bounty hunters, about the money he received from slave auctions, etc, if Lee first wrote those numbers and details down.
Pryor didn't get the information from a duck. She got it from his "papers" which means, as you will see, his slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters.
I'm sure there is a reason he paid so much more money for girls. I wonder what that could be?
SLAVE LEDGERS ARE UGLY
BECAUSE SLAVERY IS UGLY
BECAUSE SLAVERY IS UGLY
Torture, raped, whipping. Bounty hunters, more whipping, terrorizing. Selling children, punishing slaves by whip, but also by selling their children, or selling the mother
Finally, one person was allowed to study the slave ledgers -- or as Pryor called them "his personal papers.".
WHY NOT JUST SHOW THE SLAVE LEDGERS?
Personal papers for dozens of of people associated with the Civil War have been published for generations, but not Lee.
Instead, as you will see, we created a bizzare and extreme myth that grew more goofy as time went on. Any why not? those books sold well. From those books we learned page after page that Lee was kind, anti-slavery, brave, chaste, devout, etc, etc.
We were told that Lee and all his lieutenants took of their hats and knelt in prayer as bombs blew up around them.
We were told the Lee's "servants" loved him more than anyone.
We were told that Lee saved a baby sparrow, prayed with a black woman when everyone else rejected her.
On, and on, and on.
Turns out, as you will see, likely none of that is true. As Alan Nolan said years ago, we need to start over about Robert E Lee. What we teach about him was never based on fact, but was based on repeated goofy stories, repeated so often, they became accepted as facts.
There is a reason that Lee family took 150 years to let one person to study those slave ledgers/ bounty hunter letters.
We can't be sure of the reason, but we can make a very good guess at the reason, now that Pryor wrote her book,
If Lee's papers, including slave ledgers, matched the myth that we created about Lee the Lee family would likely be EAGER to get those papers out. Many Civil War figures had their papers published.
Not Lee-- and even now, we don't have access to the actual documents that he wrote, in his own handwriting. But we have drastically more than we did before.
Pryor may not want to trash Lee, but what she did reveal shows that what we were told so far is goofy, false, and deliberately so.
150 MORE YEARS?
It might be 150 more years before the Lee family let anyone see them again. Hard to tell what they thought of Pryor.
Pryor refused to call Lee's slave ledgers by their actual name -- slave ledgers. That is typical through out her book.
How do we know they are slave ledgers?
We know because Pryor gathered from those documents enough information that she knew prices he paid for girls of which age, and could compare that to prices he paid for males.
She did not get that information from a duck. She got that information from those "monthly account books". Orwellian double speak, but she was not about to use such blunt terms as slave ledgers. That was not her intention.
1000 WAYS TO TELL US .
1000 WAYS TO TELL US .
Elizabeth Pryor died in 2015 in a car accident, not that far from where Lee died. As is right and just, Pryor had an infinite number of ways to describe Lee's papers -- it was her book.
She was under no obligation to be candid. Nor was she.
Nor did she claim to be candid. In fact, she artfully called her book "a portrait". Pryor, a wordsmith as much as anyone, knew what "portrait" means -- a flattering picture.
She had taken no oath and asserted no promise to be candid. We can not say, because we do not know, what the actual and implied agreement was between Pryor and the people who allowed her such marvelous access Lee's papers -- including his slave ledgers.
Pryor and the Lee family would work that out. They picked her for a reason. They could have given access to any University in the country. They could have just published them.
They let Pryor, and as far as we know, only Pryor, to study them. Hopefully more candid "scholars" can get access, and best evidence would be the slave ledgers themselves.
Pryor does not show you any pages, she "interprets" for us, and in a way that minimizes Lee's horrors -- like his torture of slave girls. Yes, Lee had slave girls tortured, even small slave girls, as you will see.
Why not show those pages upon which Lee wrote the prices?
In 30 seconds, Pryor could have copied any page from any slave ledger she chose -- assuming the Lee family allowed it.
There is a REASON Pryor did not show a page of Lee's slave ledgers with prices - she did not want you to know.
What other reason could there be? This is not rocket science.
Never, not once, does she make it clear where she got the most stunning information - like Lee purchase of kidnapped women from the North. Yes, Lee bought women from the North, women that were not slaves, not escaped slaves. Pryor relates those luckless people to us as "and others".
Lee's bounty hunters brought to him his escaped slaves "and others". What does that mean? It can only mean the bounty hunters brought to him other human beings that were not his escaped slaves.
She could have told us the names. She had to have information in Lee's own papers about those "others". She could have told us the prices for the "others" and what happened to them?
Did Lee sell them? We know from Pryor Lee sold slaves at auctions. Did Lee rent them out? We know from Pryor Lee regularly rented slaves out. Apparently slave trading and renting was the source of his income.
Yet no one else told us as much, candid, cleverly, or otherwise, as Pryor has.
One of the few things she showed was a drawing Lee did about a water pump. As if the water pump showed us much about Lee.
She instead showed a letter Lee wrote to his children, fatherly and noble sounding.
She compared Lee right off the bat with Richard The Lionhearted.
So her book started like 1000 other books on Lee -- this would be page after page of adoration.
Not so much.
Pryor did reveal, in clever ways, more than anyone before her.
Lee wrote a lot of things -- including instructions to punish slaves, and records of purchases of slaves. Yes, Lee bought slaves.
Lee also wrote letters to justify his treatment of slaves.
Every slave owner justified his or her actions. Lee was no exception
Like every slave owner we know about, religion was Lee's go to excuse, he even insisted God ordained slavery, and only God can end it.
Could Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters be important?
Could be the next best thing to giving Lee a video camera, to record as he went about his business. But no one gave him a video camera.
He bought and used slave ledgers, himself.
"Hang on to your hats, Lee lovers.
It might to be a bumpy ride"
LEE'S WHIPPING SLAVE GIRLS
AT THE TIME
We all heard it -- all our lives.
Robert E Lee had no slaves. He did not fight on the side of slavery.
In fact, he freed his wife's slaves. We even heard they liked Lee so well, they did not want to leave him.
Pulitzer prize winning historians told us how kind, how gentle, how chaste, how devout Lee was.
High school teachers smugly told us Lee "hated slavery".
Every Lee devotee-- 100% - claimed a letter Lee wrote to his wife proved all this. That letter said slavery was a "political and moral evil".
Well, there is a lot more than that letter --as you will see. But even in the letter Lee defended the pain inflicted on slaves as "necessary for their instruction" and claimed blacks were lucky to be slaves.
Abolitionist "are on an evil course" he wrote, too. They are trying "to destroy the American church". God ordained (ordered) slavery. Only God can end it.
It was an evil -- against GOD -- to try to end slavery, other than by prayer.
And that is nothing --nothing -- compared to how personally cruel Lee was to his slaves -- including the slave girls.
PRAYING SILENTLY IN BATTLE
Lee was so devout, he and his officers would dismount from their horses during battle, take off their hats, as bombs blew up around them, and together say a silent prayer to the almighty.
LEE ONLY WANTED TO BRING MEN TO CHRIST
From about 1880 to 1930, there were hundreds of Lee biographies or articles. Practically speaking, they competed against each other to be the most flattering.
Those books are where much of the nonsense comes to us, about Lee. No one said word one about the slave ledgers during those years.
Or torture of slave girls.
Or white looking slave girls.
Or purchase of kidnapped women.
Or Lee's sexual letters to various women.
Or 100 other things.
Just wait (maybe 150 years). If the Lee family ever allow those papers to be shown, there could be much more.
THREE NEWSPAPERS DID NOT LIE
"Historians" have known very well for over 100 years that three newspapers at the time ran stories on Lee's torture of slave girl so small, the original overseer refused to whip the girl, but Lee hired someone else to do so, and screamed at her through her torture.
Historians like Douglas Southall Freeman knew that very well -- but dismissed it as hateful propaganda.
Yet now that we know about Lee's slave ledgers, we know those newspapers were correct. There is no rational way for these "propaganda" newspapers that reported Lee's torture of the small girl to know what was in his slave ledgers, and what was in his bounty hunter letters.
Those documents validate the newspaper articles.
One thing for sure -- we have to start over about Lee.
If nothing else, had Pryor only documented Lee's torture of slave girls -- including a girl so small that the regular overseer refused to whip her -- she would deserve accolades.
But she did much more, though carefully so.
Lee's payments on those dates, and payments to the bounty hunter named in the newspapers as the man Lee had whip the girl (after the regular guy refused), were just one proof.
Pryor found that after the war, reporters went to Arlington and got information about the torture of the girl the newspaper wrote about. They found a witness, one of the males whipped the same day as the girl was whipped, who confirmed it.
SO no, the newspaper story was valid. Lee did have a girl whipped that was too small for the regular overseer to whip. But a nearby bounty hunter accepted the cash.
Not only that, but Pryor found other evidence of other tortures -- and tortures of various kinds.
LEE'S FATHER HUNG SLAVE GIRLS
Pryor also found that his father had actually hung girls - a girl about 15 years old. Why did Lee's father hang her? He could have just had her whipped.
He had her hung because she pushed down the man whipping her. Lee had her hung. Don't forget that. That was Lee's dad. Lee came from that mind set.
In fact, one of the first thing Lee did when taking over the slaves -- he had a whipping post installed -- and he used it.
Pryor tried her best to gloss over that -- she wrote that Lee had the whipping post installed "as a silent reminder" to the slaves. Well, true the whipping post was silent. But the people, including girls, including small girls, were tied to that whipping post and tortured-- as Lee himself screamed at them.
That's what the evidence shows. Pryor never could make up her mind how blunt to be about Lee. She vascilated back and forth -- but always, always, excused Lee, and minimized any blame to him.
The big story here -- you can ignore the rest if you'd like -- is that Lee's slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters still exist.
In some ways, Lee never had a better friend that Elizabeth Pryor. In her hands she held shameful, even vile, information about Lee, in his own handwriting.
Yet Pryor flattered him as much as possible.
Pryor begins her book by comparing Lee to Richard the Lionhearted. She could have started with Lee screaming at the small slave girl he had whipped after the regular overseer refused, because she was so small.
Pryor could have begun her book with a list of girls, and the prices he paid for each.
Pryor could have begun her book with his sexually explicit letters he wrote to various women, even after he was old.
But Pryor did not do any of those openings -- instead she presents a lovely letter Lee wrote to his children urging them to be noble people worthy of honor.
It takes Pryor a while to get into the ugly stuff, but get there she does --in clever language or not, euphemism or not, even Orwellian double speak -- she does get there.
"Poor cross cultural communication skills"
Pryor wants us to believe Lee's discipline (torture is the right word, as you will see) of slaves was not out of cruelty.
Pryor blames the tortures on "Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills."
She was not kidding. It was not Lee's fault. It was those darn "cross cultural communication skills".
That's it entirely. A "skill set" problem. Lee just needed to brush up on his cross cultural communication skills, and those slaves never get tortured at all.
Rather like the movie "Cool Hand Luke" where a prisoner (Paul Newman) was whipped. "What we have here" said the man torturing Newman with a whip, "is a failure to communicate".
It's unlikely you ever saw the name Lee on the same page as the term slave ledgers.
Until now. He had no slaves, right? So no need for ledgers about them.
We were told that Lee "detested" slavery, and freed his wife's slaves. So indications that Lee's slaves said he was "the worst man" we ever saw, that can't possibly be true.
We were told that by Prize winning -- Pulitzer prize winning -- historian Douglas Southall Freeman that Lee was the "most" kind, the "most chaste" the "most devout man". On and on, every page praising him for kindness, honor, and wisdom.
"Those who knew Lee best, loved him the most" --- Freeman was talking about Lee's "servants" in that context.
Freeman might have even believed part of it. Hard to tell now.
Freeman even told us that Lee's own slave wrote a book about how kind Lee was, the slave "Mack Lee".
Freeman "forgot" to tell us - Mack Lee was never Lee's slave. His name is not anywhere on Lee's papers. Lee had four slaves with him during the Civil War -- not one of them by that name.
Further the details in Mack's Lee book were goofy. Mack Lee would speak to groups -- including state legislatures -- wearing a Confederate uniform. He would tell the white people that blacks should appreciate what whites did for blacks. He would take up offerings for a church he claimed he was building.
The "book" was actually a pamphlet Mack handed out as she went town to town, inviting the public to his sermons.
Mack told stories that were demonstrably false -- like his claim he and Lee were in a house as a cannonball came through the wall. It bounced around and Mack Lee was struck in the head, dazed.
Lee, according to Mack, ran to him and said something like "I ain't never seen a nigger hit like that".
Lee was never in a house that was hit by cannon balls. He never had a slave by that name.
Douglas Southall Freeman knew all that, of course.
He made sure his readers did not know.
ONE OR THE OTHER
IT CAN NOT BE BOTH
If Lee's slave ledgers are to be believe, even in the careful way Pryor writes about them, then Freeman hardly issued a honest candid word about Lee.
THE SAD STATE OF LEE "SCHOLARSHIP"
What tells more about a person?
That Lee bought women from bounty hunters---or that he had a pet chicken?
We teach the chicken, at least in Virginia. We don't mention the bounty hunters.
"THIS WAY CHILDREN"
LOOK AT THE GRAVE OF LEE'S HORSE
In any given week more school children are taken by the grave of Robert E Lee's horse, than were ever taught, in 150 years, of what Lee did to slave girls.
Is that how "education" is supposed to work?
YOU SHOULD READ HER BOOK
This blog is an amateurish report on Elizabeth Pryor's flattering, book about Robert E Lee slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters.
But read her book yourself. You may get an entirely different view.
"TIME CONSUMING PAPERWORK"
Pryor wrote about the Fugitive Slave Act in this book about Lee. Do you know why?
She mentioned rather casually that the bounty hunters brought him escaped slaves ---- "and others".
Who were the others? She does not say.
In fact, she does not give a hint whatsoever.
Did she not know who these others were?
Highly unlike that Pryor knew the names, ages, and prices Lee paid for these "others".
But they were not his escaped slaves. They were "others".
Surely Lee did not just write "others" with no information about them. Pryor had to have written it this way for a reason -- the only logical reason? She did not want her readers to know the names and prices of these people Lee bought from bounty hunters.
Pryor could have given us the names, ages, gender, where they were captured, and prices, of both the escaped slaves and the others.
But she did not do that.
Pryor could have said the "others" were impossible by his records to identify .
But she did not do that.
The "others" had to be other than his escaped slaves. But she did have an interesting comment......
"TECHNICALLY" MAY HAVE BROKEN THE LAW
Pryor wrote in that context "technically Lee may have broken the law". She even added that Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paper work".
Clever right -- time consuming paperwork. Lee failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork, as if Lee was the victim here.
Of course there is no paperwork, time consuming or not, for grabbing human beings, taking them South, and selling them as slaves.
So Pryor was not just willing to use Orwellian double speak and euphemism. In her eagerness to defend Lee, Pryor would just make shit up, too.
We can't tell for sure, of course, unless we see and study the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters ourselves.
Pryor made sure we could not actually see those things. Remember, there is a reason the Lee family did not open these records, or give copies of them, to the public.
"EVERY RIGHT TO PROTECT HIS PROPERTY "
You should read her book first, frankly.
Pryor is (was) a professional diplomat and scholar.
She did such a scholarly job on her book that she won awards for it, and accolades from the likes of Journal of Southern History, and the Virginia Historical Society.
She worked with the Lee family and apparently got along quite well with them. No one accused her in academic circles of trashing Lee-- nor does she in the slightest.
In fact, Pryor bends over backwards on every page, if not every paragraph to justify Lee, no matter what he did. She blamed the slave themselves for their punishments, for example, and said Lee had "every right" to "protect his property."
WHAT DO YOU DO IF THE ESCAPED GIRL
IS TOO SMALL?
IS TOO SMALL?
Pryor adored Lee, apparently, even after she found out about his punishment (torture is the right word, actually) of slave girls so small, the professional "overseer" (the man who usually tortured the slaves) refused to whip a girl because she was so small.
What did Lee do, according to his own hand written ledgers?
He paid a bounty hunter to whip the girl.
Pryor was not offended -- she claimed Lee had every right to protect his property.
Not out of cruelty ---
Not out of cruelty ---
Lee just had "poor cross cultural communication skills"
Pryor did not want her readers to think Lee was cruel -- though the facts show a remarkably cruel man. Pryor wrote that the punishments were the result of "Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills---" one of many bits of Orwellian double speak that Pryor uses throughout her book.
WHY THE NEWSPAPERS COVERED THE STORY
The newspapers at the time did not cover whipping of slaves, they were actually routine, as you will see.
So why publish these whippings?
Because the first overseer refused- - refused-- to whip her, and Lee paid someone to whip the slaves (including the small girl) .
The whip was only one of the tortures Lee used on her. There were other tortures in store for her, and Lee taunted her before her torture. All of that was in those newspapers.
If there is one thing Pryor did rather candidly -- Pryor lays it out there --the reports in the paper are undeniably accurate, because Lee himself validated them in his ownwritings, in the details she found in his slave ledgers.
Not only did Lee's details in his own ledgers -- payments to the bounty hunters, payments to the other places named in the reports -- match things reported, there was more.
Reporters who remembered that story in the papers before the war, went Lee's plantation after the war, to ask around.
They found witnesses to the whippings. They even found one of the slaves whipped. Those witnesses validated the earlier newspaper reports.
And remember, those reports Lee himself corroborated, in his own slave ledgers.
Pryor really had no choice, with this amazing verifications, overlapping and from various sources, on the details that matched Lee's handwritten records.
Pryor did a noble thing, she stuck to her guns on this one point -- that Lee himself validated the details of what appeared in the newspapers, in his own hand written slave ledgers.
Don't forget this. Lee's hand written slave ledgers validated -- to an astonishing degree-- what newspapers wrote at the time. And what witnesses themselves said after the war.
Pryor is no longer alive (traffic accident, 2015) to respond to questions or comments.
No doubt she would and could quickly dispense with my silly "nitpicks" about the words and phrases she used to characterize Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters, that is, if she had the material necessary to correct these observations and answer these questions.
This blog may help a little, or it could be entirely wrong.
We need to see the actual slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters to know best how to characterize them.
Pryor actually studied those records, no one else till then had. I certainly did not. It could be she was perfectly candid in her book, and my rantings are silly.
But I have reasons to doubt that.
COERCION WAS USED IN THOSE SITUATIONS
LORD CHILD DATS WUZ COMMON?
Casually skim Pryor's book, and you can miss some doozies.
Pryor early on presents "sex between the races" as "dalliances" -- which is a brief casual affair, sexual or otherwise.
Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire had a
Pryor spoke in that part of the book in terms of "dalliances". Really.
Her "rape was common" information she puts far in the back of the book, after most readers fell asleep in the slumber of her careful handling of Lee facts.
When speaking of rape, Pryor does not make it clear she is talking about Arlington, the phrasing is such that you can easily think she is writing about slave owners in general.
But she was writing about Lee's papers. She was writing about Arlington.
She does posit "there is no evidence" Lee himself took part in such activity, but what "evidence" would she need, or find in his papers? A DNA test?
There is much evidence Lee was cruel, and much evidence that rape was common there at Arlington, Pryor all but admits it.
DATS WUZ COMMON, LORD CHILD?
Pryor quotes a black man -- using ebonics no less, to tell us slave rape was common. We did not need that, if you read the reports of eye witnesses, torture (discipline) was common. And the 50% of mulatto slaves at Arlington were not dropped out of the sky or mothered by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
COERCION WAS USED?
What did she see in his papers?
Who did the "coercion" Does that mean the woman got yelled at for not obeying sexual demands?
Does it mean she was terrorized, paid?
Does it mean she was terrorized, paid?
Who did the coercion?
Did they have a name?
Did the slave have a name?
How old was the rape -- coercion-- victim?