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Monday, September 10, 2012








"Until now, however, almost no one had seen Lee's slave ledgers and letters to/ from bounty hunters."

under construction      waiting for my editor 


Have you ever heard that Lee's slave ledgers still exist?  It's unlikely you ever heard the name Lee on the same page as slave ledgers.

But Lee kept detailed slave ledgers.  And they still exist.  He also kept his bounty hunter letters, and sexually explicit letters to various women -- over decades.

Yeah, that Lee. 

Welcome to the wonderful world of narratives --

Like all historical narrations, the writer or speaker can, depending which facts they include or remove, which they know or don't know,  turn villains into  saints, cowards into  heroes.  

That should surprise no one,  not even history teachers.

But no way -- right? -- no where could be anything new to learn about Lee.

Not Lee!   We know all about him.  We know he was devout, brave, anti-slavery, honorable, and a great general.

All those historians who told us, all that honor, Lee was the most honorable, the most chaste, the most brave.  The most everything.

 In fact, wrote one historian, apparently caught up in the greatness of Lee, that Lee now sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord, in heaven.

There is no way to outdo that.



Not even his slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters, matter right?   

His instructions and payments to bounty hunters to torture slaves should not matter.  An abberation-- if true, and how could it be true?   Lee owned no slaves. 

We had that on good authority!

Why bother knowing Lee's  slave ledgers and bounty hunter.  If they exist, they must be false anyway.  Forgies, hidden by clever folks in his own paperwork, in his own handwriting, over 150 years.  

 And why judge Lee based on OUR values.  He was not cruel about torture --no way.  He did not own white looking slave girls. That's just crazy. 

He came about slave ownership by marriage, right? And he freed all those -- right?   They loved him so much, they would not leave!   That is the kind of man he was!  

And my teachers knew that!

What on earth could Lee possibly tell his bounty hunters to do,  that would mean he was anything but anti-slavery and kinds to his "servants".

What difference can it make how much money Lee paid bounty hunters for captured women that were never slaves in their lives, until Lee made them so.

And it is but of little importance if Lee paid to have even small girls whipped --  they did, after all, try to escape!  And Lee did, after all, warn them right?

Why judge Lee by facts, and by what he actually did as revealed in his own handwriting!

That would be unfair too Lee.




Leave out a few tortures, (or a few dozen tortures)  a few purchases of kidnapped women -- a few acts of treason, a few  this, a few that, and in a surprising short amount of time, you can create anything you want.

Southern apologist created Lee myth,  the most kind, the most chaste, the most devout man who actually hated slavery, and whose "servants" loved him so much they refused to leave.





The story of Lee myth is no exception.  In fact, the Lee myth is typical in that it's an example of stupid people (even educated stupid people)  repeating and embellishing myths. 

Happens a lot.  And not just about slavery and Lee. 

 His military genius, the love his men supposedly had for him, his bravery under fire --the whole thing may be absurd.

Time to start over.  This time, use the facts.  

See what difference facts make.   It's worth a shot. 



As for Lee's "military" genius,  you just need to ignore Lee's 90% desertion rates, 2/3 desertion rates by summer of 1864.

And ignore Lee's stunning stupidity, despite repeated warnings, sent  his army walking across an open field over a mile long, in full view of the well armed, well entrenched enemy.

Lee was told three times before he did this, not to do it.

Every manner of excuse was made for Lee -- none of them are credible, because Lee's stupidity was his own.   He later admitted it, and said it was his fault, which it was. 

Lee got his army decimated at Gettysburg which led to more desertions, which was already a problem.

 Of all people on earth, Lee should know open marching over an open field against a well entrenched, well armed, well trained men would cause massive amounts of needless death.

Lee's men paid the price. 



Which explains Lee's eagerness to have deserters hung in front of troop formations -- which Davis put a stop to. 

Desertions went up, then up again and again, contrary to myth that Lee's troops loved him.  Lee's biggest problem in the war was deserters, and they deserted more and more as Lee got more and more of them killed.

Long after Lee knew that  the deaths from any battle  could accomplish nothing,  he was afraid to tell President Davis,  because Davis was still in denial about it.

 Lee still told the men they needed to trust God (Providence is the word Lee used). Lee was not about to tell Davis, and incur Davis wrath, as others had, like Johnston.  Davis fired Johnson, replaced him with Hood. Hood obeyed the stupid orders to attack fortified positions in Atlanta area, and he quickly destroyed much of that army.

Lee did not want to end up like Johnston.


Bluntly put, Lee trusted not Providence for his own safety.

He trusted running.

Lee thought he was in personal jeopardy in Richmond, and acted accordingly, in a sane manner.  He ran.

Lee left Richmond  as soon as possible after he heard of the a breech in the line at Richmond.

There was no breech, but Lee thought there was Lee left the people of Richmond for his own safety.

In fact, Lee left before Davis according to Richmond papers at the time.

Lee ordered the storage facilities burned because he was sure soon the Union Army would be there.   Turns out, he was not in danger, anyway. There was no breech in the line.

The fires Lee himself ordered then spread to large parts of Richmond.   Union troops had to come in an help put out what fires they could.

Bet no one told you that.



Historians have known about the two trunks of Lee papers,  and itched to get their hands on them.

The Lee family said no.

Other major figures from the Civil War, including Davis, LIncoln Grant, and others, have had their papers published, studied,  in great detail.

But Lee family said no.

It's speculation of course, but the generations that were alive while Lee ran the slave plantation of course knew what happened there,  but was it that terrible that you burn his letters and ledgers?   No way to tell, now.

The recent generations probably believed -- and how could they otherwise-- the endless praising of Lee as kind, gentle, anti-slavery,  prayerful, devout, loyal, chaste etc.

To make sense of the ledgers and letters   you would need to spread them all out, match the ledgers to letters to and from bounty hunters, letters to and from various women.

You would need to check names and dates, price lists,  check newspapers and other references to make sense of it all.  

So historians assumed, apparently, that whatever was in those trunks would just echo what they were already told.

Uh - not so much.


In fact, one scholar, Elizabeth Pryor,  was chosen as the first person we know of to be free to study Lee's slave ledgers, letters to bounty hunters, etc.

She wrote a very careful -- and interesting -- book about  his slave ledgers, or as she called them "account books".


or even call them slave ledgers 

Lee's slave ledgers  are  highly detailed,  as was Lee's wont.

Pryor had enough information to tell us the prices for slaves by sex and age.  She told us Lee paid 600 dollars for the capture of some girls, while he paid 10 for the capture of old men who escape.

That means Lee wrote the prices down -- they were his slave ledgers, in his handwriting.   He put the name, no doubt, the age, not just for escaped slaves, but he wrote down the prices he paid- - and got -- at auctions.

We know that because Pryor referred to those numbers. 

What exactly was on those pages?   What comments did Lee make, if any?

Pryor isn't telling. She won't even use the term "slave ledger".

Pryor does that throughout the book.   For example, on slave auctions, Pryor says that Lee sent a "problem" slave to a slave auction.  What exactly did Lee write down?

More importantly, who else did he sell or buy at those slave auctions - Pryor could have told us.  She could  have showed us.   

We know-- because Pryor told us -- Lee used bounty hunters, and used them frequently.  In fact, Lee had a lot of trouble with escaped slaves.  Pryor wrote that Lee's biggest problem as a "planter"  was escaped slaves.

She also told us Lee's slaves said Lee was "the worst man we ever saw".

Worst man we ever saw?  Pryor got that from Lee's papers.

 Many escaped slaves, slaves tortured, sold and bought at auction -- worst man we ever saw....

Does it sound like Lee's slaves loved him so much, they refused to leave?

Think about that. 


Orwell much?

Pryor wrote that the slaves 


I will give you a week -- take two -- and in that week do nothing but outdo that sentence for absurdity, for Orwellian double speak.

Pryor wrote that sentence.

The slaves did not "fully agree"  with Lee's  "theory of labor management.

When did she first notice that they did not "fully agree"?

When she found evidence in Lee's own handwriting about dozens of escaped slaves?  That could be a clue in the hands of a well trained detective?

Did she first notice it when she found Lee personally took part (paying for the man to torture the slaves and yelling at them throughout their torture)?   That's another place a sharp eyed historian could pick up some indication.

She did tell us that Lee had white looking slave girl escape --and had hunters looking for her.   Did they catch her?  Pryor wisely does not say.  But she and the others, perhaps 50 or more,  escaped, which meant certain torture (discipline) if caught.

What on earth was she thinking?

They did not fully agree??  

Was she drunk, was she crying, was she laughing?

And what about those who "reviewed" her book, and those who gave her the "Lincoln Prize" for writing this book?

Yes, no one comes close to her for revealing what Lee did -- and that could deserve the Lincoln Prize.  But those who gave her the LIncoln prize could have mentioned the series of goofy, Orwellian absurdities in her "work".



While Pryor shows us things no one has ever dared show -- she still takes Lee's side on everything, including torture of slaves, which she calls  "Discipline".   Lee had "every right" to protect "his property"  was her own context for explaining Lee's tortures.

She also wrote that the tortures (discipline) was due to "Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills"

Yeah, Lee could not possibly be the cruel even sadistic man of his actions.   It was communication skills -- he just lacked "cross cultural communication skills.

Got it.


Douglas Southall Freeman is supposedly the "definitive scholar" on Lee.   Check the chart below.  See any difference?

If you go by Freeman, Lee had servants, and hated slavery, and his slaves loved him.   If you go by Lee's handwritten papers, you got a slightly "different"  story. 


Have you ever heard of Lee's letters to and from bounty hunters?

Probably not.   

Pryor does not say that Lee was obsessed with the capture of slaves,  but the amount of time, money, and problems Lee had with escaped slaves, that she does allude to, carefully,  it does seem  that slave girls were his personal focus, at least monetarily and emotionally.

Why pay so much more for young female slaves?

If you are against slavery, why regularly employ bounty hunters to catch them and punish them?

And why would Lee personally (as he did) take part in the torture of at least one girl, as you will see.


Were the witnesses lying?

No. Pryor steps up to the plate, on this one.

No Orwellian absurdity.  No double speak on this point.

Pryor says, to her credit, that they could not be lying, because Lee himself validated the dates, names, and activity in question.

For them to be lying, these slaves and these witnesses would have to know what Lee wrote down in his slave ledgers, on that day.  and then embellish their story to fit his handwritten records.

So no, they were not lying.

And there were dozens of witnesses, three different newspapers reported various parts of what happened.   

They were not all exactly the same, for example on report had Lee holding a whip, apparently, the others had Lee paying one of the bounty hunters to whip the girl.


More than just newspapers- - more than just Lee validating it in his handwriting.

  After the war,  reporters went to Arlington and found slaves there, digging graves, that confirmed the particulars of the earlier  story.  

One of the ex slaves they talked to was a male slave, whipped by the overseer who then refused to whip the girl, because she was so small. The girl and the male slave were whipped, Lee paid the bounty hunter to whip the girl.


Does not sound like Lee?  

Well, it's not like the MYTH, that is for sure.  But it's very much like reports at the time, and Lee's own papers,

Furthermore, Lee grew up that way. His father, Pryor tells us, had a 15 year old slave girl hung for knocking down a white man who was whipping her.   She laid hands on him in a confrontation - a capital crime for slaves.

Lee's father had  her  hung. 

She was eight months pregnant.


Pryor could have easily told us -- if she had evidence of it- - that this girl was the only girl that small that Lee had tortured. 

Lee, interestingly, paid much higher prices for the capture of slave girls, about 14 years old. Why pay high prices for the capture of a slave girl if you are against slavery?





While we were told by every teacher, every text book, every movie that that Lee was against slavery, or that he freed his slaves, or only managed his wife's slaves --that was never true. 

No matter how many times folks said such things, they were never true.


Get all the facts.

Luckily for history (long term) Lee wrote it down. We never heard what he wrote down.  No one ever told us.

So his devotees never told us, or denied, basic things, like his use of bounty hunters, his torture (yes torture) of slaves, and even that he owned white looking slave (yes he did, as you will see).

When you understand what Lee actually did --  saying he was against slavery is a mockery to the facts, and his own actions over 30 years of enslaving others, but mostly, a mockery to the women and men -- and children -- that Lee inflicted horrors upon, and claimed God ordained that they feel pain.



In fact, newspapers at the time -- at least three of them -- reported on unusual cruelties at Arlington.   There were overlapping stories about Lee's regular overseer refusing to whip one girl because she was so small.

Let that sink in.  She was too small, physically too small, for the regular slave whipper to whip her. He refused.

Had it not been for the size of the girl whipped, and the fact the overseer refused -- none of this would have been newsworthy.  Whipping escaped slaves was common, and Lee, as you will see, had many escaped slaves, though Pryor is too coy to give us a number.  (She could have given us a number, she chose not to).

Steven Spielberg should do a movie about the man (probably a slave himself) who refused to ship this small slave girl.

Long gone is any information (other than perhaps in the papers the Lee family still won't show)  what happened to the brave overseer who refused to obey Lee.   

The overseer did not stop Lee.  Lee paid a bounty hunter, that brought the girl to him, to whip her anyway. 

Pryor found proof that Lee actually paid the man mentioned in the paper, on the date specified, in the report, and she confirmed other details from Lee's own writing

If that were not enough, just after the war ended, reporters went to Arlington where graves were still being dug, and interviewed witnesses to the event in the paper. 

For this to be verified by Lee's own hand written paperwork should be enough proof for anyone.  Lee himself never claimed otherwise. As you will see, Lee himself said pain is necessary for their instruction.


But teach some nonsense long enough, everyone will believe it.   Lee's famous letter to his wife, for example,  is a perfect example.   Used for generations now to prove Lee was against slavery,  read it closely, and tie it to his actions.

Lee defended the torture of slaves -- in that very letter. And that does not even include his slave ledgers, orders to, payments to, bounty hunters, etc.  

How do you take one highly edited, highly out of context quote, which was part of the defense of slavery and torture of slaves -- and use that to prove someone is anti-slavery?

Douglas and thousands of others have taken that one sentence, ignored everything Lee actually did to slaves,  ignore the rapes, the tortures, the purchase of kidnapped women,  ignore the full letter itself...

..... but decree that Lee was anti-slavery.

See our chart again -- it's not complete, but it gives a glimpse at the difference between what Lee wrote down, and what others made up by deceptive "narratives"


More, Lee wrote that pain is necessary for their instruction, and God alone knows when slavery should end.  Pain -- he meant horrific life long pain from whipping, and other tortures- was necessary.

It was an evil for men to even TRY to end slavery.    Lee was not alone in that excuse - it was the bed rock of every Southern leader you can name.  

Evil -- it was evil for men to try to end slavery. 

There were those, like David Rice Atchison, who thought it was an evil punishable by death for anyone to even stop the SPREAD of slavery.

Lee did not seem to want to kill to spread slavery, as other leaders did.  So there is that to say for him.


As far as humanly possible, given the horrors she found in Lee's own slave ledgers, Pryor tried to minimize Lee's cruelties.

Pryor could have used the candid term "slave ledgers".  She would not even do that much.....she called them "monthly account books."

Pryor called torture "discipline"  and she blamed that on Lee's  "poor cross cultural communication skills"  as if not speaking ebonics made him pay bounty hunters to torture slave girls in front of him (which he did).

Pryor was very careful HOW she told us, but she did tell us that Lee regularly  used "discipline"  meaning torture, and that his "preferred"  method was whipping. Whipping is torture- - t o r t u r e.  Of course Pryor did not use that word.


Essentially, Pryor plagiarized from the movie "Cool Hand Luke"  who was tortured, by whip.  It was a failure to communicate, according to the man whipping Paul Newman. 

"What we have here,"  the sadist screamed, "is a failure to communicate"   as anyone knows who saw the film.

 Only this was not a movie, Paul Newman never got whipped.   

This happened at Lee's slave farm, Lee did it or paid bounty hunters to do it.  Young girls got whipped, those who tried to escape from Lee's plantation. 

Even small slaves were disciplined for any number of things. Importantly, Lee had several tortures (yes, he did) and used not only the whip in some of the tortures, but on top of the whipping, used salt brine to add pain after the whip stopped, according to eyewitnesses.

Lee confirmed, in his own handwriting, in his own slave ledgers, payments to specific bounty hunters on the days newspapers mentioned the story of those tortures. 

Slave owners and historians to this day, of course, use euphemism and Orwellian double speak routinely.  Pryor said all Lee ever wanted to be was a "planter".    She nor the editor saw fit to say that candidly -- planter is the euphemism for slave owner. 

Not sure that torture is us "communication skill" issue. 

 But Pryor wrote that kind of mendacity.  She need not waste her time, Lee devotees will be offended anyway.


 Pryor wrote that Lee "preferred"  whipping -- why not list his various tortures?   She is mum about that.

Whenever you read, in her book, some comment about "Lee prefered"  this "discipline",  ask yourself, why would she write that?   What did she find in his letters and slave ledgers to say that?

She did not get this information from a duck.

She got that information FROM LEE HIMSELF.

To make a statement like "Lee preferred" whipping as means of instruction,  there almost has to be in, in his papers, information to base that on.  What?  A list of tortures?  An assignment of x torture for x offense? 


Pryor was not about to tell us in a candid way.


Pryor even wrote, of the torture, that Lee had "every right" to protect his property. So whipping was protecting property.  That's the context of Pryor's prose. Again and again Pryor uses this kind of silliness,  but then she likely had to, given she worked side by side, literally, with the Lee family.

And like Lee  himself, Pryor blamed the women for escaping, not Lee for having slaves or sending bounty hunters after them, nor did she blame Lee for the tortures.  That's poor communication.

Still, no other scholar even dared tell us about Lee's torture of slave girls, or use of bounty hunters.   

Turns out, Lee per  his own slave ledgers and bounty hunter letter was nothing like the myth we were sold for 150 years. 

What tells more about a person?

That he bought women from bounty hunters---or that he had a pet chicken?

We teach the chicken.   We don't mention the bounty hunters.

More people in the United States, as of this writing, can tell you the name of Lee's pet chicken, than they can tell you the name of any of his 100 or more slave women.

That is, of course, an absurdity, that we know, for a fact, Lee bought women from bounty hunters (because it's in his slave ledgers that he wrote, and in his bounty hunter letters, that he wrote.)

Why teach the chicken?  

It gets worse -- school children are taken by the grave site of Robert E Lee's horse, and can tell you the horses name,  than ever are taught what Lee did to slave girls -- the prices he paid for them,  and what he did when they tried to escape.

One of Lee's white looking slave girls.


The name of Lee's pet chicken was Pearl.

The name of Lee's horse was Traveller.

Now -- can you name any of his slaves -- male or female.

Here is a picture of one of Lee's white looking slave girls.  Yes, Lee owned slaves that could pass for white, in fact, Lee wrote that in his own paperwork.

No one told you that, did they?



We know Lee had white looking slaves because he said so -- in writing.  As you will see, Pryor gets that amazing fact in as casually as she could.  She wrote that Lee mentioned a slave woman that "could pass for white".

Elsewhere Pryor mentioned, again as gently as she could, that a white looking slave woman was one of twelve slaves who the bounty hunters were looking for, at one time.

PRYOR could have given us much more -- like the names, ages and prices Lee paid to have those women captured.  We know -- because Pryor tells us -- that Lee had all captured slaves whipped, tortured.   Pryor actually defended Lee's "discipline" (torture)  of slaves, in ways we show below.

Pryor had in her hands the names of those white looking slaves, the ages, and the prices, if any.   Why not make all that known?

Because she didn't want to, that's why.



So many "scholarly" books and articles have been written about Lee, it's understandable if you assume "what more could we possibly learn"?

Turns out, almost everything. 

 As Alan Nolan wrote in "Lee Considered" almost 30 years ago, we need to start over on Lee,  because the "history facts"  we were told were largely myths.  That may not be how Nolan would state it, but that's his conclusion bluntly stated. 

Nolan wrote his book without a clue that Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters (and much more) existed.

It would take Elizabeth Pryor getting permission to actually study Lee's slave ledgers (she calls them "personal papers) that should blow the lid of "Lee scholarship" as we knew it.

Yeah, facts matter.  Who could have guessed?

A few tortures here -- a few white slaves there,  a few purchases of kidnapped women (yes, Lee bought kidnapped women)  and the picture of Lee would change.


If you went to school in Virginia, you may even know the name of Lee's pet chicken, (Pearl), because some schools teach that, along the myths so common about Lee.

Your "history" teacher is not likely, given human nature, to change their opinion or lessons about Lee, based on facts, and sadly, the Lee family as far as we know, have not let others, as they did Pryor, study the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters. 

Eventually, however, unless the family destroy the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters,  someone else will study the documents, and if they can, publish them.

It would be a good lesson -- not just about Lee, but about myths in general.   History in schools has more to do with myths, than with who did what. 

We all heard it

 -- everyone in the US has heard it. Every "history" teacher seems smug about it.  Lee had no slaves, he fought "for his state".   He was "opposed to slavery" and said it was a "moral evil".

 Some historians even told us Lee freed his wife's slaves, but they loved Lee so much they refused to leave. Other goofy things, "historians" told us are shown below.  Some are clearly just made up.  

Until now, however, almost no one had seen Lee's slave ledgers and letters to/ from bounty hunters.



After Lee died -- especially after 1880 and the relatively new national phenomenon  of public reading books about Civil War heroes ---  dozens of books came out, claiming things that no one dared be silly enough to mention during Lee's life.

Lee for example, never said he was against slavery. He never said he did not torture slave girls -- in fact, Lee defended the torture of slaves, including slave girls, and his actions make that very, very clear.

Pryor was careful how she told us, yes, as you will see.  But even she blurts out at one point that Lee's preferred method of "discipline" was the whip.

He had several other methods -- only, we won't call this discipline, as Pryor always did. We will call it "torture"  which it was.   We refuse to play the nauseous game of euphamism and Orwellian double speak that led us to this stupid state of believing the opposite of what actually happened. 

Pryor had to, apparently, use euphemism and Orwellian double speak, likely to get along with the Lee family and to get permission to even see his slave ledgers.  We are not so constrained.


The Lee myth came from somewhere -- it did not fall out of the sky.  As far as we can tell, it came  from the best selling books about Lee after he died,   written in a way that was more like novels than biographies.

But the public, particularly in the South,  accepted it exactly as if it were scripture.

In those books, Lee claimed all he ever cared about was saving men's souls.   Lee only wanted "to be a planter".   In fact you can read some books that never say the word slave, much less whip  bounty hunter.

But you will find that Lee  saved sparrows during battle - my favorite, though, was the one Lee got off his horse -- knelt down,  with all his officers-- and said a silent prayer as bombs blew up around them. 

That supposedly happened often --  remember that.    But that was how you sold books, you put in all kinds of nonsense. 

There is now, today, 150 years later, actually an award named after one of the most silly authors of the time 

Cooke out did most others with that story about Lee and all his lieutenants kneeling in prayer -- regularly! -- as bombs blew up around him.

Yet amazingly, we take everything Cooke and others said as the basis -- as if it were true- about Lee today.

After Cooke silly writings, where truth simply did not matter, that level of "scholarship"  has not changed much. In fact, "historians"  have no trouble actually using Cook and others as primary sources, which of course, they are not.


Lee would have been a fool, and all his lieutenants fools,   to have ever stood in silent prayer as bombs blew up around them.  No one said such nonsense till long after Lee died.

Remember that.

Seems Lee was never actually IN a battle   contrary to the drawings suggesting he led battles, he did not.  He was not close enough to be near any exploding anything nearby.

As Longstreet said, Lee was always "well in the rear" -- and wisely so. 

So the books that were written 1890-1940 could and did just make up utter nonsense. It did not get much better since.



How does Lee's actual slave owners (as best we can tell) compare to Freeman's "biography"  of Lee?

One of them apparently was lying.   Would Lee be lying in his slave ledgers?  Or Freeman lying in his book?

Elizabeth Pryor's amazing book about Robert E Lee's personal papers.   She is very careful how she relates the stunning news about Lee's torture of slaves, his purchase of women from bounty hunters, and much more.

But she does tell you, carefully, even in Orwellian doublespeak or not, she does tell you.

Lee not only bought slaves, he use slave auctions.

Even more amazing -- he used bounty hunters regularly, and paid to have escaped slaves tortured (torture is the right word -- Lee called it "instruction".  We won't use Orwellian double speak for he torture of slave girls -- go somewhere else for that)


Much of Pryor's information came from  Lee's  slave ledgers, yet Pryor would never write the term "slave ledgers".

She wrote the cute piece of Orwellian deception --" monthly account books".

But no one else, so far, has dared to be even that honest. 



Post people have no clue that Lee's slave ledgers, letters to bounty hunters,  and sexually explicit letters (to various women over decades after his marriage) still exist. 

 Pryor could have been more candid and created a shock wave in Virginia -- and everywhere that people believe the myth that Lee treated slaves well, or freed them, or was not pro slavery.

Pryor chose instead to be careful how she relayed the facts she found.

And no wonder she did so -- Lincoln too, had to be careful what he said.  Pryor was as political as Lincoln, only for different purposes.  Pryor's goal was to keep Lee's halo upon his head, as much as possibly, given what she found in his bounty hunter letters, and slave ledgers.



Lee apparently kept detailed slave ledgers, and kept copies of his letters to bounty hunters, and kept their letters to him.  It's hard to tell from Pryor exactly what she had, because she was so "delicate" in the "details".

She could have, should have,  put out the records themselves. Shown them in cases. Copied those originals, and released them, page by page. 

She was constrained -- limited -- no doubt, by what the Lee family would let her release, and say.   They did not give her permission to tell the truth in an ugly way (thought the truth was very ugly and violent).

The Lee family might not have known what they had themselves.To makes sense of these papers, Pryor had to get them sorted out, go by dates, correlate the letters from bounty hunters, to bounty hunters, to the slave ledgers and receipts at hand. 

To the Lee family, sitting around reading the papers themselves, it's hard to know what they thought the complete picture was. 

Pryor, an academic and a diplomat, had the ability to sort things out.

For example if Pryor  found a slave ledger entry for payment of 800 dollars to a given bounty hunter, she would naturally notice the date, go to Lee's slave ledgers, and see what Lee wrote on that date, or near that date, himself.  

What was the girls name? Where did she come from? How old was she?

Did she have scars? Whipping wounds?  Missing teeth or fingers. 

Lee would write such things down.

Then Pryor could make lists, if Lee had not made them already, and list the prices, dates, age, sources, and disposition of such slave property. 


Lee's papers were first confiscated during the Civil War, but where all returned, with the entire estate, to the Lee family after the Civil War.  Big mistake. 

 For the sake of our country, Lee's slave ledgers, and everything else, should have been put on display at the time.  No one would have been surprised, then, but everyone would be surprised now, because of the epic myth Southern folks have created about a noble Robert E Lee.  

Historians knew of the two trunks of papers -- that Lee wrote -- for 100 years or more,  but could not study them.   Most historians apparently assumed the two trunks of papers would just confirm what a great guy he was.

Not so much.





No way Pryor could have anticipated what she found.

No one ever hinted, in all of "academic history"  that Lee owned white looking slave girls, never mind that pictures of Lee's white looking slaves existed.

But Pryor found those white looking slave girls, and found that Lee himself wrote that they could pass for white.

If you can pass for white -- you ARE white.

Lee did not free the white looking slaves, male or female.  If he did free them, it's fair to assume Pryor would say so. In fact, Pryor shows that Lee never freed anyone voluntarily, and to the extent he finally freed the slaves from the Custis will,  it was only after Lee repeatedly ignored orders of the Virginia Court.

By the time Lee freed those slaves, they were probably worthless anyway.

Pryor did,  however, cross over the line from Orwellian double speak into deception, when she defended Lee's torture of slaves (as she did) by saying Virginia law required -- required -- escaped slaves, be whipped.  That's not true.  

There was a LIMIT of number of lashes in one day, though that was often ignored. And Lee had a way of ignoring the laws he needed to, or wanted to, about slaves anyway, as you will see.   




As you will see, Pryor seemed not upset whatsoever at the torture of slaves,  male or female, young or old.  In fact, Lee, as Pryor tells us carefully, had one girl whipped that was so small,  the regular overseer -- the guy who regularly tortured the slaves -- REFUSED

Let me repeat that.  The guy who regularly whipped the slaves REFUSED to whip one girl, because she was so small (she may have been the daughter of the overseer, who was often a slave, too, Pryor gives us no clue).

Pryor came close to being candid on that score-- she did not have to explain that the reason the overseer refused was that the girl was too small. She could have left that part out.  

But she included it. 

The point is, Lee had her whipped ANYWAY.  And Lee paid to have her whipped.  He simply paid a bounty hunter to whip the girl, when the overseer refused.

But there is more. Not only did Lee pay to have that small girl whipped, he screamed at her during her torture.  Put all that together...  he sends bounty hunters to capture her.  He pays to have her jailed until he can get back to be there when she comes in.  He taunts her before her torture. He has her tortured.

He then has ANOTHER type of torture applied to her back.

He then sends her to another slaver, very likely because that slaver is even more cruel than her.

Pryor goes into those details, as carefully as she can. 

 It was not just whipping.  After the lashes,  there were other physical tortures. That was the Robert E Lee who actually lived.


Any teacher in Virginia would probably be fired if they explained Lee's torture of small girls.   In fact, students in Virginia would get points on a test for knowing the name of Lee's pet chicken.

That's a good, accurate, and honest metaphor of our education to our kids about Lee and the Civil War. 

It would probably be better not to teach anything, rather than teach lies, which we do.



Lee wrote a famous letter to  his wife where, if you just ignore the entire letter, ignore his actions,   and focus on one sentence, you can make yourself believe Lee was against slavery.

In the letter in his sentence about slavery being a political and more "evil"  yes.   But then he goes on -- remember, he has slave girls whipped, buys women from bounty hunters, on and on, all that is ignored.  But he did write the letter about slavery being a moral evil....

..... then he defends slavery and the torture of slaves. Yes, he does. 

Lee wrote, in the same letter, that pain is necessary for their instruction

And of course, Lee's slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters, his actions buying and selling slaves, etc,  reveal a particularly cruel man, apparently obsessed with slave girls. 


Where are Lee's slave girls buried?    

If  the "history" about Southern leaders  is supposed to show us what life was like, why  aren't any school children in the entire state of Virginia even told Lee had slave girls whipped.

Pretty basic -- young and even small girls are whipped.  That was part of their life, part of the terror and pain they endured.   But we take one misleading sentence, and teach the kids that. 






Of course, torture and enslaving white girls is as vile as torturing and enslaving black.

Elizabeth Pryor, the only person ever allowed to study Lee's slave ledgers,  was no upset over Lee's torture of slaves, male or female.  

Pryor did seem, in her book, to became a tad unglued, however, when she found, in Lee's own slave ledgers, that Lee had WHITE looking slave girls.

And some -- at least one of the white looking girls tried to escape.

 Lee sent bounty hunters after her.  Pryor does not tell us (though she could have) if that girl was captured.   She did tell us that Lee tortured slave girls, and she excused it by saying it was the law that he do so.  It's reasonable to assume if Lee granted a pardon -- did not torture -- a captured run away, Pryor would have told us.


Yes, slave girls could be mulatto -- Pryor tells us that "rape was common" -- and she was writing about Lee's plantation.  Children were born from those rapes. 

What do you do with white looking slave girls?  

Turns out, we find out from other writings, that mulattoes and white looking women could be, and were sold, at auction.  Lee did not just let them go.  He did not find them homes with white families.

He kept them as slaves.


Lee "just wanted to be a planter".  

Pryor tells us that "all Lee ever wanted to be was a planter"


Do you know what a "planter"  was?  A slave plantation owner,  the term had nothing to do with plants. 

Lee did not grow veggies.  

Nor did he plant anything at all.

Lee's  product was the labor and bodies of his slaves.  He did not raise cotton, he was too far North. His cash came from renting or selling slaves, slave children, and in renting them out to various whites.





Actually the same books that tell us  bullshit like Lee and all his officers dismounted during battle and prayed as bombs blew up around them is where we get much of our information about Lee.  Let me repeat..... we get most of our information about Lee from patently absurd sources.

Which is why Lee's own slave ledgers and his own bounty hunter letters are such a BFD - or should be, in a rational world. 

In the 1880s through 1920's, books about Confederate heroes sold well -- as phony as can be, but it was profitable.  

No, it was not some "conspiracy"  -- it was good old fashioned pandering for cash, sales.  

It actually seems writers doing this kind of hustle competed to praise the Confederate leaders more,  no matter how goofy it was. If it told the readers what they wanted to hear, it was in.  

This way, Lee became extremely religious, devout as humanly possible,  "he sought only to bring souls to Christ"  kind of nonsense. 

One author said Lee "now sits at the right hand of Christ, is Lord, in heaven."     
Sits next to Christ in heaven.  Go on -- try to beat that.  



Not a word -- not one word -- in any of these books about Lee's tortures of slave girls, purchase of kidnapped women,  nor his slave ledgers.


A note about me -- and why I write these amateurish blogs.....

My name is Mark Curran.  Here I am in China, learning Tai Chi, near Hong Kong.

 I'm not a "historian" --- I just read voraciously about US history from 1840- 1866,  especially original documents.  That means letters, speeches, documents, newspapers, books.   And if I can't get the originals, I get as close to the originals as I can.

I wish someone better than me at writing things like this would do so.  Yet after reading original sources for years now, I'm stunned at how shallow, or wrong,  our history text books can be.

About Lee, at any rate, we need to start over.   There is no honest biography about Lee on the market-- Elizabeth Pryor did as well as she could, but she was the opposite of candid.

When you compare the myth about Lee to his own information in his own slave ledgers, it's hard to imagine a more deceptive myth. 


Elizabeth Pryor is the only scholar ever allowed to study Lee's slave ledgers closely.   What she found there had to shock her.  The problem was -- how would she tell of the horrors Lee himself inflicted upon slaves -- and on others.


Lee inflicted pain on others?   What others?   

Lee's papers show he paid bounty hunters for more than escaped slaves.....  Lee paid the hunters for "others".

As  you will see, Pryor used, necessarily, very careful prose when describing Lee's treatment of slaves, particularly slave girls.   Still, she does get the information out -- as gently as she can, without incurring the ire, and possibly hatred, from the Lee family.   She worked, literally, with the Lee family.

Pryor was exceedingly careful how she relayed the information about torture, bounties, white looking slave girls, rapes -- everything.   The more stunning the news, the more she was careful how she said it.  

If his ownership of white looking women was not the most amazing fact Pryor related,  it was the fact Lee bought "others".   Others from the North.  

Pryor apparently was not about to run head to head against the hand the fed her -- the Lee family, and Virginia Historical Society.  Remember, she studied Lee's slave ledgers only because they allowed it.  No other reason.  Lee's slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters, his dirty letters (yes, Lee wrote dirty letters) and asundry other documents are not with the National Archives, or any public place, as are most papers by most notable historical figures of the United States Civil War.

Lee's papers are privately owned -- which is a shame, and a travesty.   A travesty because the Lee family could, if they wanted, destroy the papers revealing the horrors, if they wanted to.   And it's unlikely they will allow anyone else to actually study the same papers Pryor did for another 150 years, if they ever do. 

Given that situation, Pryor probably did as well as she could -- and her goal was never to reveal Lee's horrors.  Her goal was go give a PORTRAIT -- a flattering picture.  Not a totally honest picture.



Pryor  blamed the slaves for their own torture, saying Lee "had every right to protect his property".   Having slave girls whipped  was protecting his property?  Yes, in Pryor's careful prose, Lee was protecting his property when he whipped the girls.   


PRYOR  also excused Lee's torture (yes, it was torture --"discipline" is a cowardly euphemism, a deliberate lie, we will not  use it)  as a "communication" issue. The tortures were caused by Lee's "poor cross cultural communication skills" 

Let me repeat that --   Pryor suggested Lee's tortures came from his  "lack of cross-cultural communication skills".  

Pryor's book was reviewed by dozens of "historians"  and "critics" -- and as far as I know, not one single "historian"  or reviewer even noticed,  not just this absurdity, but nor did they notice any of the stunning linguistic tricks Pryor used. 

Absurdly, one person commenting on the book in a newspaper article about it, said "Wow, she didn't hold anything back, did she?".      



Pryor did not mean to be comical -- but she had to excuse Lee somehow. At one point, Pryor actually wrote that Lee's slaves "did not completely agree with his theory of labor management".

Sit there a while - think of this. His slaves (many of whom tried to escape, as you will see) did not "completely agree"  with his "theory" of labor management.

Pryor admits, in another chapter, that Lee's slave said he was the worst man they ever saw.  She further admits, carefully, that the slaves escaped so frequently -- and Lee tortured them if they were caught -- that was his biggest problem as a slave owner: escaped slaves.  

Escaped slaves were his biggest problem.  You have to understand that to know how goofy her comment was about the slaves "did not completely agree with Lee's theory of labor management".

Did any reviewer point this out? Hell no, not that I saw, anyway.   Did they even notice?   Apparently not.   


  If you had a group of 1000 people, and gave each of them a  half hour to come up with a more stunning bit of Orwellian double speak, or a more absurd and misleading euphemism,   please let me know what that would be.

Pryor wins the absurd euphemism contest for Lee's biographies, IMHO. 

That was her attitude on almost every page, but clearly at times, in some pages, some paragraphs, Pryor was dumbfounded at what she found. But she saved her apparent venom for Lee on ONE thing -- as far as I can tell, and only one thing.  

She was disgusted that Lee owned white slave girls.

Black slave girls? No problem.  That he had slave girls tortured- - that was there fault.  That he bought kidnapped women from bounty hunters -- all you get from her is "others".   That Lee's tortures were cruel and sadistic (yes, sadistic) -- he was protecting his property.

But for the white slave girls?   That surprised her.  That didn't seem RIGHT!

Yes Lee kept slave ledgers.  Very extensive, detailed slave ledgers.  

Prices paid for every slave bought or captured (yes, Lee bought slaves).   Prices paid for bounty hunters, not only for capturing escaped slaves, but for capture of "others"  that were not escaped slaves.

Who were those "others"?

Lee  also wrote down payments to bounty hunters to whip slaves.   Yes, Lee had them whipped.  And at times, per  his hand written slave ledgers, it seems Lee paid a bounty hunter hunters whip an escaped slave when the original overseer refused.

And the original overseer refused ----- because the girl was too small to whip.  



Yes, amazing things in Lee's slave ledgers.  It's hard to pick something more surprising that he had slave girls whipped, too small or not.

The more amazing -- Lee's white looking slave girls.  Pryor is very careful how she tells us, but she does tell us. You must read very closely,  however.

1) Elizabeth Pryor is the author of another Lee biography.

2) She is not like the others. 

3) More than show the Lee myth,  Pryor shows,  despite her efforts to the contrary, that history is often a joke we play on the young and foolish.  


     The Lee family allowed  Pryor to study, at length, Lee's slave ledgers. Sadly she won't show the ledgers or even call them bluntly "slave ledgers".

  Pryor calls them "monthly account books."

 These ledgers were in two trunks of personal papers that historians knew existed for 100 years, but no one was allowed to study them.    It's likely even the Lee family did not grasp what was in those two slave ledgers.


The slave ledgers laid in those trunks for over 100 years, apparently.  Given back to the Lee family, after the war, historians for three generations assumed those papers would just confirm Lee's kindness, concern for bringing men to Christ,  and his charity to the slaves, and ex -slaves as time went on.

No so much.

Pryor could -- and did -- compare Lee's slave ledger information to letters to and from his bounty hunters.   She could -- and did -- synch the slave ledgers to other others, and newspaper accounts of Lee's torture of slave girls, and capture of free women (women that were not slaves, lived in the North, until Lee got his hands on them).

Of all the amazing things in Lee's slave ledgers, nothing quite shows the absurdity of Lee Myth as much as Lee buying women from bounty hunters that were free women, living in the North, who had never been slaves in their lives, until Lee's bounty hunters kidnapped them.

You can use every linguistic trick in the world -- and Pryor does the best she can in that regard.  The fact remains, Lee not only had slaves, bought nore, had them tortured,  he also bought free woman from bounty hunters. 


"Lee's tortures -- the horrors I found in Lee's slave ledgers"

Pryor could have called her book "Lee's  Slave Ledgers- - What I Found."   There are a thousand titles possible.   Her goal was not to stop traffic in Virginia, not to get death threats, not even to upset the Lee family -- remember she worked only with the permission and blessing of the Lee family. 

Pryor chose the title that was barely true -- they were his papers, yes.  Pryor  kept that attitude page, after page, after page.   Her goal was to keep Lee's halo upon his head, as much as she possibly could.

Yet she had those bounty hunter letters in her hand.  She had his dirty letters (yes, Lee wrote sexually explicit letters to various women for decades -- and after he was married).   Lee paid bounty hunters not only to whip escaped slaves, as you will see Lee paid bounty hunters for something else.....

Lee paid bounty hunters to bring him "others".   To sell him "others".   When his bounty hunters were chasing escaped slave girls in the North (Lee paid 600% higher prices for slave girls) his bounty hunters, as was common, did not much care if the black person they ran into was escaped slave or just black enough to be taken. 
In fact, capturing free blacks in the North was a profitable enterprise, and the bounty hunters, of course, were doing it for the money.

Pryor tells us- - carefully to the point of deception -- that Lee paid the bounty hunters  for "others".  She was not talking about shoes, or lamps, or tables.  Bounty hunters brought Lee flesh, human flesh.  Some were escaped slaves.   Pryor found out this -- Lee paid them for "others" . 

Why not?  To Lee, who insisted he was doing the will of GOD to enslave, and that blacks were supposed to be enslaved for their own good, what on earth in your head would then think  "Oh, I better not enslave this woman".   Do you think Lee would tell such a black person, given to him by a bounty hunter "I am so sorry, maam.  You have my deepest apologies. I will have you escorted back to your home immediately." 



Yet attitude or no, she did what no one else did --give us information no other Lee biographer had the balls or brains or honesty to do.  

Pryor was under no legal obligation to include "others"  or even mention bounty hunters, at all.  She could have simply overlooked that, as she could have overlooked the tortures, dirty letters, and hatred by Lee toward the slaves.  

But Pryor had what no one else had -- in her own hands.  Others had information second hand about Lee's tortures. Others had information about Lee's cruelty and penchant for slave girls. 
Pryor had to be stunned.   Her problem seems to be how on earth would she tell about the horrors. Lee's own tortures and own actions.  How would she tell us? 


You can bet the Lee family, the Virginia Historical Society, and Journal of Southern History were damn glad Pryor did not write candidly.    Pryor would not show a page of the slave ledgers, she would not write the term "slave ledger".  

 Yet that is what she had in her hands, for much of the information.   She didn't have tea leaves and rumors from mice -- she had his slave ledgers. His bounty hunter letters.  Sexually explicit letters to and from various women - for decades.

Yes, sexually explicit letters.  Instructions to - and prices to -- bounty hunters.  I can't help it she wrote carefully.  But at least she wrote more than anyone else dared to write. 

More people know the name of Lee's horse, than know Lee ordered his soldiers to invade the North, capture hundreds of free blacks (yes, free blacks) there, take them South, and sell them as slaves.

Davis promised in January of 1863 that he would invade the North and capture blacks there -- FREE blacks. He specifically said free blacks.  Not just "escaped slaves"  as some stupidly think.  Davis promised to capture free-- free -- blacks and enslave them.

Lee is the one that actually did it.  Here is a picture from about that time.  No one remotely disputed Lee captured free -- free blacks -- in the North during the War.

What might be a surprise -- Lee did the same thing already, using bounty hunters that he paid, before the war. 

Lee was then, and remains now, the only person in US history to invade another country (he considered the North another country by this point) capture civilians, and turn them into slaves.

But even more  -he did that himself (via bounty hunters) before the war.  How do we know?  Pryor tells us about the bounty hunters - and "others".  Very clever, that Pryor.

See below. 

Yes, he did.   And more people know about his horse, than know that.



Even  the place where Lee's  horse is buried, is a place of honor, near a chapel, where Lee is buried and honored every day as a devout man of God.   

Any honor to the slave girls?  Their place of burial?

Schools visit Lee's grave.

And grave of his horse.  No mention of the girls he bought. Or sold. Or had whipped.

And we do so in a reverential tone.  

We do not tell the children that Lee had slave girls their ages, sold, and some whipped. 

We show them the resting place of his horse.

No names, prices, birthplace, or death place of his slaves. No mention of the American men he had killed.
No mention of the Southern War Ultimatums and Southern leaders speeches boasting of killing to spread slavery. 

Certainly we don't show the price of any slave -- male or female, escaped slave or captured by bounty hunters in the North.

We act as if the place his horse is buried, is a place of honor.



A grave might give you this information

                                      Slave Bettes,  female.
                             Purchase price 400 dollars. 
                                  Assumed birth year 1842. 
                      Tortured four times. Captured twice.
Gave Lee 3 Mulatto Children.
 Children value 2700 total.
                                            Died 1858.  

We don't even think of it.  We think of his horse. 

That's the "scholarship" of today.  


Pryor was "diplomatic" in how she gave us the information. 
..........But she did give  us the information. 

Yet Lee knew them -- some he bought at auction (yes, Lee used slave auctions).  Pryor tells us, carefully, giving you the false assumption, that this was rare -- slave auctions.  Or that he only "got rid of unruly"  or problem slaves, via auction. 
Read such passages carefully.   Pryor could have said "Lee only used slave auctions 3 times, and only to sell slaves".   Nope.  But she knew how many -- who, what prices -- Lee paid or received. We know because she tells us some prices.  And she can tell averages -- over time.

If she has average prices of slaves, over time, then she has slave ledges, over time.   
We also know Lee knew the girls -- because he paid the prices for each, if captured.  He paid to have slave whipped, if need be. We know that because Pryor says Lee paid to have the Custis girl whipped, when the regular overseer refused, and she confirmed that by payments to the bounty hunter mentioned in the newspapers.

That is amazing specific --and Pryor almost certainly would have squeezed out of that admission (as was her wont) if possible.   Whatever Lee wrote, or whatever someone wrote to Lee, about paying the bounty hunters, for whatever they were paid for, it was clear enough for Pryor to confirm, bluntly for her, that Lee paid to have that girl whipped

Yet, "history" teachers will stand in front of class rooms,  and repeat the awful distortions-- that Lee was against slavery. That he was a man of honor.  And only fought for his state.

That is the power of bullshit repeated over, and over, and over.


Historian Alan Nolan, 20 years ago, wrote essentially that the "scholarship" about Lee was dubious (meaning, next to worthless). 

Why?   Nolan said it in a polite way -- one acceptable to academia.  The source of so much of what we teach and believe came from sources that are  more like fictional cartoons, or  from novelist, who wrote glowing "biographies"  20 to 40 years after Lee died.

Nolan did not even know about  Lee's slave ledgers.  It's hard to think what he might say now, if he could see Lee's slave ledgers, or even read Pryor's very delicate book -- delicate meaning Pryor was artful how she related the horrors.




Most people know that blacks in free states -- especially close to slave states -- could be and were kidnapped by bounty hunters.  The movie "12 Years As A SLAVE" was about such a luckless man.

But few people know Lee bought free women from such bounty hunters.  And while Pryor does her best Orwellian double speak about this  --she admits Lee bought "others".

Lee  did have bounty hunters capture women - free and escaped slaves -- in the North.  Lee insisted slavery was Godly (Divine Providence)  that it was a benefit for the slave,  that he, not the slave, was the unlucky one. The slave was fortunate to be a slave (a common bit of cognitive dissonance, absolutely necessary for slave owners).

So why not enslave women that way?
(We don't know the gender for sure,  Pryor only said "others" 

But our money is on female, because of Lee's  money was on females. Why bring Lee a male for 10 dollars, when you can get 600 dollars for a female?  The prices Lee paid for these humans would be profoundly interesting and important. As would the comments Lee made in writing about them, and the description or prices mentioned by the bounty hunters- - the point is, we are getting from Pryor only the sliver of information, a peek in the door, that she allows. 

Nothing more.


Much of the problem is the myth that there were kind slave owners.   And Lee was supposedly the most kind -- so kind his slaves refused to leave, is one such repeated nonsense.

Slave owners, including LEe,  could, and did, at their whim have slave women sold, their children sold, or have them whipped, and even whipped to death.     

The slaves did not forget that.  If you could have your child sold away from you when they were one or two, what would you think?

And slave children or the mother often were sold.  In fact, Pryor tells us that Lee did "separate families"  -- which can only mean he sold the mother or child, the father was not a known quantity. In fact, most slaves had no idea who their father was, and it was often a white man anyway.

   If Lee was the most kind slave owner (yes, he owned slaves)  what a horrible life every slave had, and no wonder slave women killed themselves or risked torture and death by trying to escape.    

It was smarter, of course, to obey the master - and cater favor.   An obedient slave could expect more food, to keep her child with her longer, not to be whipped by white men in a bad mood .  People tend to do what gets them the least pain, and most pleasure and safety.

The slaves were no exception -- but neither was Lee. He did what got him the most pleasure.   

Lincoln called slave owners "pleasure seeking" --and he knew what he was talking about. 

Slavery was not the place for honorable men - though Lee did try to dress up and pretend to be honorable.  

George Mason, who knew Lee's father,  wrote, essentially, that slave owners  like Lee, who were raised from birth to see part of mankind as deserving of torture and slavery, were sick minded despots dressed up for church. 


Repeating distortions endlessly does not make them true.

Nolan had no clue that Lee's slave ledgers contained things as vile as any slave ledgers.  Maybe worse.



Slave ledgers -- the details in them -- might seem horrid pieces of history, filled with sales of women and children, purchase of captured slaves, even purchase of kidnapped women (yes, blacks were kidnapped illegally in the North, by bounty hunters, taken South, and sold as slaves).

Yet slave ledgers were as common then, for slave owners, as shoes, or a horse, or slaves themselves.



The Lee family, as scholars and "history buffs" well knew, had two trunks of Lee papers that the public never got to see, much less study.  No copies were made, no access allowed.

Of course -- what did we need those  papers for?  It was well established, was it not, by Pulitzer Prize winning historians, by the dozens, if not hundreds, of books, thousands of articles in journals all around the world, that Lee was anti-slavery.  A noble man of principle -   and if you had any doubt of the matter, just check part of one letter he wrote to his wife about slavery.

Whatever was in the Lee papers, inside those two trucks, were superfluous.   Trivial papers, and likely just showed his purity of heart, his kindness,  his  honor.  Interesting, but not necessary. 


 Lee knew the name of his slave girls, including the girls that tried to escape.

He wrote it down, repeatedly.

Pryor is not about to show us the actual slave ledgers.

Her book starts out comparing Lee, favorably, to Richard the Lionhearted of England.  A blood line so pure that Lee could not possibly be other than the most kind, chaste, honest, and honorable man of his generation.  

That is the feeling you get early in the book.

Only later do you learn that Lee not only had slave girls whipped, he bought women from bounty hunters that were NOT, let me repeat that, NOT escaped slaves, but "others".   Others the bounty hunters captured, apparently while searching for escaped slaves in the North.

Only later do you find Lee's heritage was not so wondeful.  His father had a pregnant slave girl hung -- her crime was this. She knocked down the man whipping her. 

She knocked him down.  Apparently the overseer did not tie her up before the torture -- just started whipping her. 

She knocked him down.

She was hung.  That was the kind of atmosphere Lee grew up in.


Lee, apparently, had the "decency"  to have slave girls tied to a post.   In fact, Pryor tells us -- so sweetly -  that the first thing Lee did when taking over discipline (discipline = torture, remember that) of the slaves, was to install a whipping post.

The whipping post was a "silent reminder" to the slaves, Pryor wrote.  We will show you how "silent"  that post was, below.

Lee paid bounty hunters for her to be captured, and there recorded the money paid to the hunter.  He had to have her jailed for a time, to wait till he got back to meet  her personally, apparently -- he wrote down the prices paid, and named her in those entries.

Lee had to write her name down yet again when he sold her, as punishment, to the "deep South"  were there were hundreds of slavers on other slave farms, even more cruel than he.


And Lee wrote down information that showed the slave hated him - and said he was "the worst man we ever knew

And by the way - torture is the right word.  Not "discipline".   They were tied up, and Lee taunted them, according to overlapping reports at the time.   He taunted them before the torture, and screamed at them during the torture. He had other tortures, and other "disciplines".  So to get it right, we need to be specific. Lee sure was. 

How could this be?  It can't be, right?  

Scholars, movies, more scholars, every teacher from 6th grade on, to the "top" historians in US history told us -- proved to us - that Lee was against slavery.

That letter -- right -- that letter to his wife proves it! (Actually read the whole letter, it is actually a tenacious defense of slavery and the torture (pain) slaves must endure.  And Lee was more than happy to supply the "instructions".  

Lee wrote pain is "necessary for their instruction"  

And Lee wrote much, much more than that.

Pryor nor the Lee family would show us anything but Lee's own self aggrandizing missives to his children and a drawing.

Still, Pryor did make it clear -- if delicately stated -- Lee's slave ledgers and personal papers validate his tortures.

You probably don't know it -- but Lee's slave ledgers still exist.  More people know the name of Lee's pet chicken, than know he even had slave ledgers.

More people know the name of Lee's horse, than know he bought kidnapped women from bounty hunters- though he did.

He paid extra, considerable extra, for girl slaves.  Gee -- I wonder why?

The slave ledgers  are not pretty.

Is it fair to judge Lee by his slave ledgers, and instructions to bounty hunters?________________________________________________________________

Hell yes, it's fair.  

Such information, in Lee's own handwriting, in his own slave ledgers are not only "fair" to examine, but you are necessarily stupid about Lee -- yes, stupid -- if you do not know they exist and what is in them.

Yes, what Lee did -- to slave girls, and in order to get slave girls -- does matter.  He is often (absurdly) shown to be anti-slavery.  A man who seems focused on capturing slave girls, far more than he paid to capture escaped males,  is not anti-slavery.


Pryor knew the names ages and prices of escaped slaves brought to Lee by his bounty hunters.

And, she writes, they brought him "others".   Other what?  Tomatoes?  No, people. 

Pryor wrote in the same passage about "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork"  as if there is paperwork, time consuming or not for kidnapping free blacks.

And she writes -- "technically, Lee may have broken the law".

Ya think? 

More about this again, below.  The point is, Pryor told you, if you read it very, very closely.  The more vile, illegal, and treasonous his behavior, the more carefully, more Orwellian and deceptive,she wrote.

But she did tell you. ___________________________________________________



Pryor had to name  her book something --she could have chosen  "A Portrait of Lee from His Slave Ledgers. "

She could have named it "Top prices Lee paid for slave girls".

She could have named it, "Lee buys free women from bounty hunters". 


But Pryor worked literally along side the Lee family.  Her careful work won accolades, or at least thumbs up, from Journal of Southern History, and the Virginia Historical Society.  If any "history journals"  took issue with her whatsoever, I do not know of it.

It's hard to knock her -- she was using Lee's own papers, his own slave ledgers, his own bounty hunter letters.   Clearly she was not overstating the horrors she found because on every page, if not every paragraph, she seems eager to praise Lee, to excuse his tortures, to minimize any blame, as you will see.

Every horror she showed -- she made sure not to blame Lee.  Either others did it, too (no, they did not)  or it was Lee's right to do so.  She called whipping slaves "protecting his property".    

Clever no?  But necessary,  or she would not have had approval of the Lee family and Virginia Historical Society, and others, who very much approved of her work.  


Most people today do not know that white looking slaves -- slaves born from the rape of mulatto slave women, by white men -- was actually a big problem, and particularly at Lee slave plantation. 

Lee's slave ledgers show this -- over half (over  half !) of the slaves there were mulatto.    

Typically only about 10% of slaves were mulatto, but at Lee's slave farm, over 50%.  

Read Pryor's words carefully. We will come back to this -- but "Whites were increasingly enslaving other whites"  is not near a sentence with Lee's  name in it.

But she was writing ABOUT LEE.   

It was at Lee's slave farm (Lee ran a slave farm, slaves were the cash crop, a basic price "historians"  know but can not bear to write candidly about) through Lee's papers that Pryor got this basic information.

She didn't dream it up.

Pryor could have said this 100 ways.  She did not seem to want folks to know, Lee owned white looking slave girls -- and some escaped. At least one did -- and maybe more. 

No "history" journal in Virginia, or the South, has ever made a to-do about Lee's white looking slave girls.  Gee, I wonder why?

So Pryor was careful enough that Southern journals probably didn't even notice. Most readers do not notice.   Still you have to wonder -- did they actually read her book closely?

Every page?  She wrote about the slave ledgers, calling them account books. She mentioned the very very high percentage of white looking slaves.  She mentioned white looking girls escaped.

But the WAY she mentions this, it's not something that grabs the reader and says LOOK AT THIS.  

She could not write candidly,  that was not her goal. Nor, really, a practical option for her.  




Had Pryor used the term "slave ledgers" in her title -- or even written it candidly on any page --  she likely would have been scorned by the Lee family, and been on every TV news channel in Virginia in two days.

Slave ledgers?  We were told he had no slaves!


So Pryor  used the term "monthly account books"   - and that only once. A smart idea.  They were Lee's handwritten slave ledgers, and you can tell that, if you are so inclined, because of the stunning precisely information Pryor is able to give us from his "monthly account books".

For example, prices. 

How would she know the prices?  From a duck?

No, from Lee. 

How would she know the prices he paid for older males, compared to the prices for young girls?   A squirrel?

She got it from Lee's papers -- his slave ledgers. 


Pryor could  not only give us prices, she gives us "average prices".  You can't figure average price, unless you have a number of prices.  So she had a large enough number, and proof of it in Lee's own slave ledgers, that she could come to an average.

  She also can tell us - because she did- -how much Lee paid to have girls captured, and how much he paid to have older male slaves captured.  That means Lee wrote that down somehow, somewhere. 

Why not show us the pages themselves?  How many names? What does Lee write, exactly?  He had to write SOMETHING.  He sent letters and instructions -- he had to write names.  They had to write back. He was not using a cell phone, they used letters.

And Lee wrote down prices, prices in, prices out. Money in, money out.

Now maybe you see why the Lee family never let the public examine these "papers" -- slave ledgers -- for 150 years.  And when they did allow it, they made damn sure they picked someone (Pryor) who adored Lee.


Have you ever seen a picture of one of Lee's white looking slaves?

In fact you have, just above.  That is a Lee slave. Lee owned her (some folks get quite upset that we call this white slave a girl, instead of a boy, as if enslaving a white looking or boy is fine, but enslaving white looking girl is horrendous).


It is not just Lee -- get only self adulating, nearly worshiping distortions about people,  and omit, ignore, or hide the tortures, cruelties and deceits by anyone, you necessarily come out with a hero.  It could not be otherwise.

Partial, or distorted, information make us  necessarily stupid not just about Lee -- we would be stupid about the power of myth, as myth is not only human nature, but also, sadly, woven into much of supposed "scholarly" awareness of Confederate heroes, if not heroes in general. 

 If there are other facts -- and there are -- those, too, are basic to understanding not just Lee -- but to understand how history is often a "cruel joke"  played on the young, as some  have said.

Lee's tortures, his cruelty, his apparent obsession with slave girls (because he paid so much, and because he kept bounty hunters busy trying to capture them) would be a given fact, if Lee's slave ledgers were shown to the public at the time. 

But they were not shown.  The Union Army, who had all Lee's personal property and Arlington during the war,  actually gave the Lee family all the personal property, and then the US government even paid the Lee family for the property, though it was his wife's property!    

The slaves got nothing. 

No pay.

No copy of the slave ledgers. 

They got nothing.


Lee and the South, however, got more than money and the posessions.  They were free to spin whatever they did as noble, as wonderful, and as for slavery, Lee got to claim he did it for the Lord, and for the slaves.

Lee actually repeatedly indicated that he enslaved to help the slaves.  Never mind that Lee - as you will see -- tortured dozens of slaves, never mind that he sent bounty hunters for week, and months, on end, to capture runaway slaves "and others"  (that "and others is a BFD.

 It is entirely normal for the Lee family, and he himself, and the South generally, to give their own story in as flattering way to themselves as possible.  

Like the goofy distortions -- many of them deliberate -- about lee told to generations of American that Lee was not just anti-slavery, but "passionately"  anti slavery.  



Hell yes. 


According to "scholars"  - and then repeated as gospel forever, unless the deception reversed -- Lee didn't even own slaves.  And if he did technically own them,  he freed them.

And, oh, yeah, they loved him.


Lee  released his wife's slaves, "scholars" told us, each scholar more smug than the last,  and each seems to have added another row of misinformation and conjecture about how honorable, or brave, or well loved Lee was.   

When you understand that desertion -- 90% desertion rates, 66% of desertions before fall of 1864 -- you will understand so many of Lee's soldiers deserted, that Lee wanted more executed, and that his biggest problem was NOT the Union Army, but his own soldiers deserting.

No one tells us anything of the sort.

But that is small potatoes compared to some stunners -- white looking slave girls? Yes, Lee had white looking slave girls, per his own comments in his own slave ledgers.  She is just one of the slave women that tried to escape Lee's slave farm.

By the way -- of the 150 or so examples of Orwellian double speak about Lee, and slavers in general, calling Lee a "Planter"  or "Plantation" owner is profoundly deception.

Lee was not a "Planter".  He did not make his money by veggies. He never likely planted a thing in his entire life.  He has slaves do it.

And  his cash crop -- Pryor could have told us this -- was flesh.  Selling it, buying it, renting it out.  

And sometimes, torturing that flesh.  If you need Orwellian double speak, you won't find that here.

Lee ran a slave farm. Period. 


We all heard  it - Lee had no slaves, Lee freed his wife's slaves -- and we were shown a letter to his wife that proved it.

(More about that letter below- - it's actually a profound defense of slavery, and the torture of slaves - when you read the entire thing)

Historians assured us, Lee was against slavery (by the same letter to his wife)  and that the few "servants" Lee had loved him so much they refused to leave.

There is probably not a single "history" teacher in US that claims Lee was against slavery, by using that letter to his wife, where Lee said "slavery was a political and moral evil".

But that is not the end of the letter. That was the "set up" part. Read the entire letter.  His wife grew up with those slaves.  Some, including some that Lee had whipped, where her childhood friends, or the children of her childhood friends.   This letter was apparently his way to give her reasons he was out there whipping the slaves.

The rest of the letter appeals to her ultra -religious nature. Contrary to myth, Lee was not so religious, but she was. And he could write a splendid letter about God and the hand of God (Providence = hand of God).

Slavery was actually a blessing, it was for the slaves own benefit.  It is not for us, he wrote his wife, to question God.
Pain is necessary for their instruction. 

Pain is necessary for their instruction.  In other letters, he wrote that abolitionist were out to "destroy the American church".

Do not question God -- he was telling her. God intends slaves to feel pain.   We are civilizing them -- God will handle the details. It may take 2000 years, he suggested, for GOD to free the slaves.

We are obedient to GOD -- it is EVIL -- let me repeat that -- it is evil for men to try to free the slaves, before God free's them.

This was not extreme, by the way. This was exceedingly common justification for slavery by men -- and used on women.


Even textbooks told us Lee was against slavery and only fought for the South because "he loved Virginia". 

So how were we to know -- no one told us Lee had slave girls tortured, bought kidnapped women, and that his slaves said he was the "Worse man we ever saw"




Since none of us were there -- why not just believe the great sounding stories about Lee?

Elizabeth Pryor believed those stories -- so did almost everyone in the US.  That is, Ms Pryor believed them, until she found Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters.


Things got so twisted about Lee -- you can still find folks on social media insisting Lee's slaves FOUGHT in the Civil War in order to stay with him.

Nothing -- nothing -- is too goofy to attribute to Lee.   


My favorite is that he and all his officers would kneel as bombs blew up around him, in silent prayer.  No, we don't hear that one much now -- but it's from the books that are responsible for virtually all the nonsense we teach as true about Lee.

In fact, the fiction writer (he wrote fiction about Lee, not truth) is the name of the Award -- yes they give awards -- for the writer today who makes up the most absurd claims about Lee.


These books have silly, absurd misinformation, that had no basis whatsoever, but repeat them a few times, and people will insist they had to be so.   "Lee only cared about bringing men to Christ"   and "Lee now sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord". 

Absurd nonsense. 



If we had ever taught the ugly truth about slavery anyway -- we would not be surprised at any of this. Slave rape was common -- yes, it was, and you will see proof of that in Lee's own papers.

You can find books written at the time detailing the horrors, the tortures, the rapes -- and such horrors were at Arlington, too.

Lee's father had a girl about 15 years old hung for knocking down the man whipping her.  Apparently she did not hurt him -- just knocked him down,  she was just supposed to stand there and get whipped.  She did not do that.

For knocking the man down, she was  hung.

By Lee's father.   Did Lee have anyone hung?  Yes, in fact, he did -- his own deserters. Lee had a profound problem with desertions -- in fact, two thirds of his soldiers deserted, according to Jefferson Davis himself, by summer of 1864, and got even worse after.   Lee wanted to hang more deserters, but Jeff Davis ordered against that. 


"The most contented laborers on earth"

While Southern leaders insisted slaves were "the most contented laborers on earth"  clearly they were not.    If they were so content, why on earth did Lee regularly employ bounty hunters -- and why did so many of Lee slaves try to escape?   If you tried to escape, and were caught, you were tortured.  But Lee's slaves, probably over 50 of them, tried to escape.

Pryor refuses to give us a total -- but she did give a hint.  At one time, his bounty hunters were chasing 12 escaped slaves.  Remember,  if caught they were tortured.   How "content" do you  suppose they were?

Pryor found something (she won't show what, exactly) that indicates Lee's slaves said "he was the worst man we ever saw". She could have expounded on that, she could have shown us the papers, the context, from which she gathered that insight. 

That is what the SLAVES said, per Lee's own papers. 

Worst. Man. We. Ever. Saw.


A Pulitzer Prize winning author -- Douglas Southall Freeman -was considered the "definitive" Lee scholar.   He even looked like a brilliant, level headed, pipe smoking scholar.

Page after page of "proof" of Lee's chastity (yes, chastity) kindness, neatness, his bravery, his honor.  And he supposedly had proof for every word.

Those who knew him (Lee) best were his servants -- and they loved him most of all.   Freeman even presented a "book" written by one of Lee's "servants" .  Turns out -- and Freeman had to know this, almost everything in "Mack Lee's"  pamphlet (not a book at all)  was in error.

Mack Lee went around Missouri And Arkansas in the 1920's, wearing a confederate uniform!  He spoke at white churches, sometimes even state legislatures, and was more of a clown than anything else.  He handed out the pamphlet when he came in a town, for whites to come to his talk.

He would praise Lee effusively, then take up a collection for that church he said he was building.

Freeman left all that out, of course.  And remember, Freeman knew every day of Lee's life,  and he knew the four servants Lee actually had with him in the Civil War. None were named Mack Lee.

But Mack Lee's book was flattering -- if absurd.  Mack claimed a cannon ball came through a wall of a house he and Robert E Lee were in during a battle.  The ball bounced around and  hit Mack Lee in the head -- Lee ran over to him and said something like "I aint never seen no nigger get hit in the head with cannon ball before".

Remember -- Freeman knew this guy was bogus. He probably had no clue that someone 100 years later could search newspapers at the time (1920s) and find out what a scam Mack was pulling.  But Freeman knew. 

Now we know -- from Lee's own papers -- that Freeman was lying on nearly every page.  Either Lee lied on his slave ledgers, his dirty letters, his bounty hunter instructions, or Freeman lied.

Both men can not be telling the truth. 

"Lee now sits in heaven, next to Christ his Lord" is just one of thousands of goofy sentences we can find in Lee "biographies".

Freeman is the most important source of much of the misinformation about Lee.  His father "served" with Lee.  

And the information was deliberate. 

Alan Nolan, who never read Elizabeth Pryor's book when he wrote his own, said essentially, in a kindly way as possible, that Freeman's "work" could not be accepted at face value. We need to essentially "start over" about Lee, with original sources.

It seems Freeman either made up the sources, embellished, and or did not accept the overwhelming evidence of Lee's cruelties, the rapes at Arlington,  etc.

   The material Freeman seems to have accepted as gospel was made up 20 30 and 40 years after the Civil War, by novelist -- people who wrote these books that Freeman used were essentially novelists, making up fiction about Lee.

Lee's only concern in life was "to lead young men to Christ"  said one such novelist.   Nearly every religion claimed Lee as favoring their faith.  Quotes were made up likewise, to support such stories.

Were any stories true?  Who knows?   We know the basic attitude was nonsense, Lee was not kind, he was not against slavery,  he was not even religious, he rarely went to church.  Yet the novelist insisted, of course, that he was "devout".

A devout man does not buy women from bounty hunters, or scream at slave girls as he has them whipped.

We know now most of that was fiction, because Lee's own handwritten papers -- like his slave ledgers and letters to bounty hunters -- completely repudiate much of the fiction


His slaves, according to his own papers, said Lee "is the worst man we ever saw".

The novelist wrote that Lee's slaves loved him.  In fact, on social media just yesterday, I saw a tweet that claimed Lee's slaves fought for the Confederacy because they loved him so much! 

So the "historians" that claim all manner of things, including that Lee owned no slaves, are no more reliable or truthful that the novelist who made this myth up.

In fact, one slave that was supposed to be freed, per the will, and per  the court order apparently,  Lee had tortured for trying to escape.  And she was not the only one tortured.

Bizzaro world.

How did this happen?




Pryor focused on Lee's  "personal papers".    Her euphemisms beginning in the title, fittingly enough.   Personal papers, it turns out, is a phrase Pryor used rather than say candidly  "Lee's slave ledgers, dirty letters, and instructions to  bounty hunters."

READING THE MAN -- she announces in the title.  Well, she apparently read "the man" but she had no intention to let YOU read them. 

Instead, Pryor read the horrors, and cleaned them up as well as she might. Yet her book is profoundly important, not just to understand Lee, and the cruel nature of slavery, but to understand the farce, the overwhelming dishonesty, of anyone who ever presented Lee or other slavers as kind.

Lee was "the most kind"?   



The "Lee Myth" has started to crumble since we started this admittedly amateurish blog.   We stupidly hope we played a small role in it.



Paying to torture a small female slave --


We will cover this more, below, but at the time, three newspapers reported Lee had a girl tortured that  the regular overseer refused because she was too small. 

(By the way -- torture is the right word, she was tied up and whipped, and then other physical tortures. If you need euphemisms, consult a thesaurus )

The overseer was the man who regularly whipped the slaves, and he refused to whip one girl Lee wanted tortured --because she was too small. 

Lee had her whipped anyway -- in fact, he screamed at her, per the papers, all through her torture.  What did she do?  Slap his wife?  Try to kill him?

No, she tried to escape.



Silent reminders?  Silent??

Pryor tries, at one point, to make it seem like torture might have been uncommon at Arlington.  She wrote,  for example, that Lee had the whipping posts installed as "silent reminders"  to the slaves,  soon after he took control of the slaves (and Lee had his own slaves, not just his wife's),.

Well the posts might have been silent, but the screaming slaves chained to them were not. And elsewhere casually admits that whipping was Lee's "preferred" means of discipline.  So, there were other means.  She did not elaborate -- but she could have, if she wanted to.  There had to have been a reason she found one method of torture "preferable". 

There were 100 ways to torture slaves, by the way, as documented at the time, including gouging out eyes, cutting off hands, burying a slave in a hot box,  put them in a small shed and "smoking them" for  hours or days, or even have them attacked by dogs.

Pryor also casually admits, as if it's not a big deal, that psychological torture was real. You could keep your child -- or mother -- near you longer if you pleased the owner.  Lee, we find out, would send slave mothers or children away, very likely as torture to both.  Pryor calls that "separating families"  but it means sending a child to the Deep South, or sending the mother.

Family structure did not exist  -- half of the slaves at Arlington apparently had a white father or grandfather, from rape.  As you will see rape was common, too.  

The "father" was not allowed, it was either difficult or impossible to know who the father was, and it was not recorded.  The master could father his own slaves, or tell a black male, oftentimes called a buck, to breed with a given slave woman.

Slave masters controlled the sex life of slave women, and did so for their own pleasure.

BTW -- did you know Lincoln referred to slave owners as "Pleasure seekers".   And from Lee's dirty letters and papers, we know now more about what Lincoln meant

That was not uncommon -- slavery was not an act of kindness. 

More than one slave girl was whipped to death by men screaming bible verses.   So Lee having a small slave girl whipped was not amazing or newsworthy.

It made the newspapers not because of LEE -- but because the overseer refused. The overseer refused.

Lee had her tortured anyway. 


Yet no one was surprised at the time.   Harpers Weekly, a widely read, and accepted factually both North and South, wrote at the time about Lee's capture of blacks in the North. 

Enslaving FREE blacks --

You didn't know Southern leaders promised to enslave free blacks in the North? 

 It was on orders of Jefferson Davis -- his own official announcement of his (Davis) intent to enslave blacks in the NORTH is a matter of public record. See below.

Still don't believe me?   Good for you -- here, a link to Jeff Davis own papers.

Davis promises to enslave blacks in North

This surprised absolutely no one at the time -- Southern leaders had boasted since 1856  about spreading slavery by force against state's rights.   See  "What South Bragged About Until They Lost"




A "paperwork issue"  in Pryor's clever prose..

Lee had done the same thing before the war -- yes he did -- only Lee hired bounty hunters, paid bounty hunters, to do it. 

Do what?  To capture free blacks in the North -- women, in Lee's case, as we could know for sure if Pryor had simply shown us the papers she used to cleverly tell us that Lee bought "OTHERS".

He paid for escaped slaves -- and OTHERS.

Clever no?  In fact, you could hardly notice how vile this was from Pryor's prose.  She tells us that "technically"  Lee "may have broken the law"  

She further wrote that Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paperwork".   Artful, no?   In fact, she makes you feel sorry for Lee, as if there was paperwork to fill out anyway, to capture free blacks living in the North.  THERE WAS NO paperwork to fill out, time consuming or otherwise, of course, to capture anyone. 

This mimics the Orwellian and awful language used by stupid "scholars"  to this day, portraying slave traders as the victims of slavery by blaming anyone for not helping slave traders grab blacks in the North and turn them over to bounty hunters.

The "Fugitive Slave Act " -- you should know - was passed practically at gunpoint, for the 1850 "Compromise".     As Lincoln said "What compromise?"   In return for doubling the size of slavery with land stolen by slave power's Mexican War,  and the Fugitive Slave Act.  

Pryor inherently approves of all that, and then, when Lee went even beyond that audacity, to buy free blacks that were not escaped slaves,  she writes -- literally writes --that off as "time consuming paperwork"  Lee "failed to fill out."

Do you see how clever "historians" are about telling you pure bullshit, vile lies, that cover up the most brutal crimes, and make you think men like Lee were the victims?

You should.  Study US historians, and you will find, this is not unusual at all.  In fact, we teach as if it this type of vile deceit is scholarship, and award such writers with prizes, honor, and money.


You should have known all this, and more, since 6th grade US history class. 

Lee remains the only person in US history to ever capture free and lawful residents of a nation, take them to his "country" and sell them as slaves. More about that, and much else, below.


When you teach drivel like the name of a chicken that Lee actually ate --and not teach that he had slave girls tortured, something is fucking  wrong.  When millions of students are fed this kind of crap as history - and they believe it --society does not improve or move on, or learn from the past.




Lee owned slave girls that "could pass for white".  Could pass for white is a euphemism -- they were white. Pass for white is what white means.    

I am a white male -- because that is what people see when I walk down the street, or go into a store.

Pryor used he word "horror"  only in relation to one thing. White looking slaves at Arlington, or as she said "could pass for white".

Pryor wrote this clever sentence  "Increasingly, whites were enslaving other whites" 

This white looking girl
was a slave.

It was a growing "problem".   What do do with the "White looking"  slaves --born from the rape of light skinned mulatto women. 

Both slaves.

One looked white.

Lee owned such children.

Lee -- nor any other slave master -- ever said "Oh my, look how white looking this child is, forgive us, please,  God only wishes blacks be enslaved.   Therefore, we will free you immediately, and find you a good home in the North".

Never -ever - happened. No record, no story, not hint of such a thing.

Lee not only had such white looking slave girl, at least one tried to escape. Lee sent bounty hunters after her.  Yes, he did.

Pryor is artful about this, too. She admits that, in one instance, 12 slaves escaped. One "could pass for white".

Pryor did NOT mention (though she could have) if the bounty hunters caught her.  

Did they torture her, too?   If not, it would have been a simple matter for Pryor to say that.  Pryor actually made it clear as she could -- all escaped slaves were tortured (disciplined).  It was the law, she said, and Lee had "every right to protect his property

In fact, white looking slave girls sold for higher prices, we find out from other sources.  Do you know why?

They could be sold to whore houses -- and were, according to reports at the time.

The famous Nathan Bedford Forrest owned a slave auction.  A woman -- suspected of having a mulatto grandmother, but she could pass for white, was captured in Memphis,  and taken to be sold at Forrest's auction.

She knew Forrest personally, as a white woman, living as a white woman, looking like a white woman.   She begged to see Forrest -- surely he would release her.

Forrest met her, then sold her as a slave.   We don't know where she ended up, but whore houses would pay extra for "comely"  women. "Comely"  was a word used to describe attractive slave women.  It's very possible the white looking woman Forrest sold -- ended up in a whore house.

Apparently Southern men prefered to visit whore houses that had mulatto or white looking women. 

The rape and torture and abuse that went along with slavery anyway, did not stop just because a child was born with lighter skin.  They were still slaves, owned by masters who did with them as they desired.






Pryor starts her book by equating Lee with Richard the Lionhearted, and a long self serving letter from Lee to his children.

Lee's dirty letters to various women, and instructions to bounty hunters (apparently to capture free women in the North -yes, really) come later.

Yes, Lee wrote sexually explicit letters to various women, he wrote instructions to bounty hunters.   Why not show it all?

Why not show one page of his slave ledgers?

Because her intention was to tell -- kinda- - but do it in a way to keep the Lee family happy.

One has to wonder, though. Pryor does get in stunning information, at times.  Like Lee paid to purchase "others".   Like the rapes. Like the tortures.  Cleverly inserted, yes. Built in excuses,  yes.

But she got them in.



The Lee family could not have known, without detailed study, what they had in those two trunks of books.

To know for sure, you would have to sort them all, arranged in some kind of order (chronological would be logical)  his monthly slave ledgers, and his letters to bounty hunters, and letters to and from him on every imaginable topic.

 For example, once Pryor had the three newspapers about Lee's tortures, she could check his slave ledgers for a list of slaves returned by bounty hunters  (the torture of the small girl was right after a bounty hunter returned her).   

She was able to check the names in the newspaper,  and Lee's payments to that name. Lee gave details in his slave ledgers about payments to various bounty hunters, and to various jails where he had the escaped slaves kept, until he could get to Arlington personally for their return.

That's right -- apparently Lee wanted to be there as they were brought in by the bounty hunters.  

After the war -- more newspapers checked into the story.  Of course before the Civil War, no one could go into Lee's slave farm (that is what is was, a slave farm)  and ask slaves.  But reporters did go there after the war, found former slaves, and asked them about the story of whipping the small slave girl -- after the overseer refused.

Remember that, the original overseer refused to whip the girl. That's why this was in the newspapers, and that is why people remembered it years later.  It was not often that the guy who regularly whips slaves refuses to do so.

And he refused to do so this time, because she WAS TOO SMALL


Yes Pryor could have started the book with the story of torture, and Lee paying extra to have that girl whipped.

She could have been far more candid about what exactly did she find, and show a list of girls Lee had whipped, if she could tell, and show how much he gave to bounty hunters total.

Pryor just gave us a sliver of information...


But how candid could she be?  With the Lee family literally working with her -- and she of course would tell them what she found, how could she say "Look here, Lee was paying bounty hunters for free women in the North, and had this girl whipped when the regular overseer refused."

She probably would not have been allowed back the next day, and told to leave immediately.    It's a near certainty that Pryor, who was careful how she told her readers, was also careful how she told the Lee family.

What did Lee say --all details please -- about white looking slaves.  We know, because Pryor mentioned it as if it was a casual thing  -- that Lee had slaves that "could pass for white".

That's it. There had to be more. Some context.  How many of his slaves, male or female, could pass  for white?

We know from pictures with dark skinned slaves at Arlington that some slave children at the slave farm were as white looking as my children.

We also know -because she told us-- that OVER 50% of Lee's slaves were "mulatto"

Over 50%.  Let that sink in.  And Pryor told us that most slave plantations (slave farms) were about 10% mulatto.  Lee had not only a very large slave farm (over 200), many of those were various shades of black, brown, tan, and some, white looking.




The white looking slaves -- male or female -- were NOT  freed, we can be sure, or Pryor would have mentioned that.  Just the opposite, Pryor tells us a slave girl that could pass for white DID escape -- though she refused to tell us if she was captured, and if she was whipped, like the others.

The white looking girl "could pass for white" is how Pryor wrote it, was one of 12 who tried to escape, apparently at the same time, or where out at one time, and bounty hunters after them -- in the North.


We know Lee tortured (that's the right word) every slave caught trying to escape. Was the white looking slave (in other words, white) girl captured?  If so did Lee have her whipped?

Pryor would not say.   Why not?

 But she did say white looking slave girl, she did say the girl escaped.  But she never told us -- did the girl get away?   Did Lee's entries show her return?  Did it show any payment for her capture?

She knew -- Pryor likely knew thousands of details like that. 

She only told us what she wanted to tell.

The more vile his action, apparently, the more clever Pryor was about it. Like the "Others"  Pryor alluded to. Lee paid  bounty hunters for escaped slaves, AND,  Pryor says artfully, for "OTHERS".

Who the hell were the others?

Pryor would not include that for fun and games.   Remember, her goal is to protect Lee's myth as much as possible.  Pryor had to -- simply had to -- know more about the others.  Lee or the bounty hunters or both had to detail such information.  How much did Lee pay for the "others".

Were the others female?  Probably so -- Lee paid much higher prices for 14 year old females, we know.  Why would bounty hunters bring back a ten dollar old black man?  Would not they bring back a 1000 dollar 14 year old girl?


Pryor was not trying to inform -- as much give us the "bum's rush" -- in a sophisticated way.   She praises Lee, directly and indirectly, on nearly every page.  

Pryor's  difficulty seems to be how to inject the horrors-- torture, rape, selling children, taunting small slave women as they were  whipped are just a few of the horrors.    

In fact, you can read her entire book, as others have, and not realize Lee had slave girls tortured- - and regularly had slaves tortured for trying to escape.  Lee had them all tortured -- and torture is the right word.  Pryor has many excuses for that --Lee had to whip them, it was a law (no, it was not a law).  Lee had "every right" to protect his property is another attempt --she was talking about whipping slaves when she tried to pass it off as "protecting the property".

A lot of times I protect my car at night, but going outside, screaming at it, as I pay a bounty hunter to whip my car.   No, not really.   But that is how goofy Pryor's logical and Orwellian double speak is -- but it worked.

No review of Pryor's book that we are aware of even mentioned such absurdities, which is why we wrote this.  



If Pryor wrote candidly, or spoke candidly, to the Lee family before she published the book, would she have been allowed near the slave ledgers?

Pryor is not the only person ever to be deceptive or uses Orwellian double speak, distortions, and euphemisms.  In fact it's part of human nature, and certainly part of history and biographies, to  have a "slant" or attitude about the topic.

Still, when writing about wars, war "heroes"   every manner of mischief and oppressions can be, and has been, done by folks spouting euphemisms.   

 Lee had slave girls tortured - torture is the correct word -- that were so small, the regular overseer refused to whip her.  Let that sink in.  The regular overseer REFUSED to whip one specific escaped slave.   Pryor does tell about it, carefully, as she tells all such horrors.  But it's there.


 Pryor actually did write that rape was "common"  and wrote about the violence in some rapes,  though carefully. 

Pryor wrote "coercion was used in those situations".

What did she mean?  Why not tell us what she saw in his papers that revealed such a thing?

She was talking about rape. Violent rape. Coercion. 

 Pryor tried early in the book to pass off "black and white relations" as "dalliances"

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers
had a "dalliance".

Pryor went from "dalliances"  to "coercion was used"  in 100 pages.  

Not one book reviewer - and her book was reviewed hundreds of times -- bothered to note this, that we can tell.

Not one book reviewer highlighted the torture of escaped slave girls, either.  Gee, I'm almost  wondering if the "historians" did not want to notice what the hell Lee was actually doing, when he was alive. 




The girl in the picture is a slave.  She was born on Lee's slave farm (that is what Arlington was, a slave farm),

Was she one of the white looking girls to escape?   If so, why?



Per his own slave ledgers, Lee's hand written records confirm he the stories screamed at the slave girls as he had them tortured. The details of who Lee paid, the dates, the name of the bounty hunters he paid, all confirm the newspaper reports of those same names, etc.

Other Lee writings confirm his torture of slaves.  He was not ashamed, though he did try to mollify  his wife.  Remember, those were HER slaves (until he bought his own, and yes, he did buy his own).   She did not have them whipped. Lee, according to Pryor, installed a whipping post when he took over "slave management".

Lee believed -- at least he wrote it to be so -- that slavery was of God because that was how things were. Providence set things as they were. Divine Providence = God's will.


All through human history, the more vile the action, the more holy the justification for it.  Slavery was no exception.

Animals never bother (as far as we know) to justify any cruelty, and they don't seem cruel for the sake of cruelty.  Men are cruel, and they justify it. They must.

We all know that power corrupts, it's old news.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Slave owners -- just by saying a few words -- could have children sold. Could have women stripped, and whipped.

Slave owners  -- according to Southern leaders -- were actually put there by GOD, and slaves must obey the slave owner as they would GOD.    

Slave owners, necessarily , turned to the most powerful justification that could dream up -- the bible.

They were so fond of any quote in the bible that justified slavery, and the torture of slaves, that they memorized those parts of the bible.   Frederick Douglass saw one slave owner scream those bible verses as he tortured a slave woman -- to death.

Lee too,  overlapping newspapers reported at the time -- screamed at slave women as he  had them whipped.  Not just had the girls whipped-- he screamed at them during the torture.

And not just screamed -- because the original overseer (the overseer is the guy whose job it is to do the whipping)  refused to whip one girl -- she was too small.

Lee had her whipped anyway.

Let that sink in.  A small girl -- too small to whip anyway -- tried to escape. Lee had her chased by bounty hunters for weeks. Thats right for weeks.  When they caught some of the escaped slaves, including the girl or woman too small to whip, they brought them to Lee.

Lee had them all tortured.  Torture is the right word.

And it only made the papers at all because the girl was so small -- so small the professional overseer REFUSED.  

Lee paid a bounty hunter nearby to do the torture -- and as that bounty hunter whipped the girl, do you know what words he yelled? 

Over and over, Lee yelled the same thing.

Guess -- go on guess -- what it was.

"Hit her harder, hit her harder" -- or in the vernacular of the day "Lay it on, lay it on".

That's not all.  After the torture, Lee had other pain for her.  He had her back soaked in brine -- salt.   More pain.  Years later Lee's defenders claimed that salt was for their own good (just like Lee said their torture was for their own good).

Actually witnesses there at the time, watching this barbarism, said it was for extra pain.   Apparently too many scars on a slave girl could lessen her price when sold.  So fewer lashes, but add the salt.

And her crime?  Her horrible crime?

She tried to escape.

Abolitionists, Lee insisted "are on an evil course"

Slaves "must endure" painful discipline.

Pain is "necessary for their instruction".

Slavery, insisted Lee, was a "spiritual liberty"


For several generations now, idiotically,  we have taught Lee as kind, anti slavery, and honorable.  None of that is true, and was never true, but myths get spoken, repeated, built up, and then repeated so often,  as far as the public is concerned, the myths must be true.

Lee's slave ledgers and letters to bounty hunters sill exist.  And now we have the benefit of a book -- all about the slave ledges.  Only the author was a Lee devotee.  She opens her book with flattery typical of Lee adoration books, which is probably why so many historical journals loved the entire book, if they read it all.

Yet Elizabeth Pryor, author of "Reading the Man"  did not just repeat absurdities of the past. The material before her was Lee's own slave ledgers. He own sexually explicit letters, which stunningly, he wrote for DECADES, before and after his marriage. In fact he wrote various women even after the Civil War, and used sexual terms and references in the letters to various women.

When is the last time you wrote a letter to someone with sexual terms in it, but were not and never were sexually intimate with them?  Lee even referred to sexual activity -- stunning even if it was to his wife, but it was to not just other women, but to a number of women.  Pryor was not about to be clear about it, rather, as on virtually everything she wrote, Pryor was a vague as she could be.

But she did give us information about Lee, that he recorded in his own handwritting, and that were in letters to him, that show the "scholarship"  on Lee was in most cases total nonsense.  



In almost every classroom that teaches Robert E Lee,  the teacher shows part of a letter Lee wrote to his wife.   In that letter, if you just read part of it, it might seem that Lee is telling his wife about the evils of slavery.

But read on -- read on.  The letter is written after Lee took over torture (torture is the right word).  By all accounts the slaves at Arlington were not tortured until Lee got there.  Mary Custis, who Lee married, grew up with many of those slaves.   She knew them as children, when they were children.

When Lee took over -- per his own slave ledgers and notes - Lee had a whipping post installed.  While Pryor at one point called the whipping post a "silent reminder"  to the slaves, there was nothing silent about the slaves attached to the post and whipped. 

In other places in her book, Pryor admits stunningly, but carefully, that torture of slaves was COMMON.  Lee not only had whipping as option, but he used other means to torture!   Pryor does not explain this in a clear way, but she did admit that Lee's "prefered" method of "discipline"  was the whip.  

She also admits (and remember, she gets her information from Lee's papers) the slaves hated Lee, and said he was "the worst man we ever saw".

The worst man.   They ever saw. Let that sink in.

The slaves saw overseers-- men who actually were experts at whipping and punishing slaves.  These slaves saw bounty hunters -- Lee hired them to capture women, men and children, including some that were free blacks living in the North.

So they saw plenty -- and Lee was "the worst man we ever saw"



Yet we teach Lee as kind, against slavery.  The very letter apologists and "academics" for years used to prove this, actually proves the reverse.  Later in the letter Lee speaks of pain being "necessary for their instruction."   

And if the "evil aboloitionist" will just leave the slaves alone (as if the abolitionist got near the slaves"   the slaves will behave, and the master won't need to be upset.   

Lee further describes the slaves as being fortunate for their slavery.  Lee and his wife, Pryor tells us, both thought the slaves should appreciate them.

But that was hardly unique, in fact, slave owners had to justify their tortures, had to blame others.  The human mind does not do such vile things without heavy and repeated brain washing, which is where religion comes in.  Over and over, in fact, in almost every sentence, Lee refers to, or implies, religious reasons and intentions.   

That was extremely common - - and necessarily so.  Slavery could not have existed unless those doing the tortures - those having the tortures done, like Lee, could do the mental gymnastics to justify it. 

And of course, he was not going to tell his wife that he paid 600% higher prices for girls of a certain age (which he did) because he liked their bodies, or tell her the details of what went on at night in the slave barns,  separated, as they were, by gender.    He of course would refer, for his wife's eyes, about religion and GOD and the benefit of her slaves.



Lee's actions, we now know with certainty, were brutal, cruel, and not just an aberration for him.  This is how he treated slaves.

In fact, Lee grew up knowing that slave girls could be -- and were -- hung, for disobeying a master.  Lee's father, Pryor tells us, actually had a slave girl hung for knocking down a man beating her.

She knocked down the man beating her.

Lee had her hung. She was 15 years old, and 8 months pregnant.

Lee's father had her hung.

Lee did have white men executed in the war, and he was in charge, at the start of the war, of thousands of slaves building the earth works around Richmond.  Pryor does not mention if he whipped or tortured those men.

But consider this -- if Lee had small girls tortured during peace time, for running away,  and if he screamed at them during their torture,  what the hell do you think he did to slave MEN during war, when Lee's life depended on the speed and effort of those slaves to build the defenses? 

So how the hell did these myths get started? 

We show you how it got started.  And it's not that much different than how all distortions, myths, and lies get started... a little at a time, then repeated and enhanced, enhanced again and again.
Here is another

Lee, scholars told us, knelt during battle and had all his officers kneel in battle, as bombs blew up around him.

Knelt during battle, in silent prayer!   

No one said such goofy things during Lee's life -- in fact, no one said he was in battle!  Longstreet said Lee was always "well in the rear".    There was no genuine account of Lee even near the battles,  though today the Lee myth folks would have you think Lee was in the thick of every battle, close enough to see the enemy, and close enough for them to see him.

Not so much

The point is,  almost all the "goofy nonsense"  came 20 to 40 years after Lee died, as an avalanche of hustlers started to write pro Confederate biographies that sold well in the South. 

Yet today, we accept as proof those goofy frauds, actually cite the frauds to prove how wonderful Lee was.

 Men like John Cooke just made up crap,  as if he were writing  fiction -- which he was.  The things he were not true then, and not true now.   Yet we actually give awards based on the name of two of the biggest frauds in pumping up Lee as a noble, brave, anti-slavery man of kindness. 

We might always accept the goofy frauds, if not for Lee's own handwritten slave ledgers. 



More history teachers  know the name of Lee's pet chicken than they know the name of any white looking slave girl that Lee owned.

Pryor adored Lee -- and wrote as carefully as she could possibly do so not to scare the reader. She framed words in a way that did not blame Lee whatsoever.

Pryor actually admits -- carefully -- that Lee had slave girls tortured (torture is the right word, as you will see).  

She claims, however, that Lee had to torture them, because it was a law to whip slaves who tried to escape.

She added that the tortures (she called it discipline) was because of Lee's  "Poor cross cultural communication skills"

That's right, Lee was not to blame for the tortures (and there were many).   It was a "communication" issue.  Lee just did  not have the "skill"  of cross cultural communication!

That's pretty much how Pryor's entire book goes -- very carefully revealing horrors (tortures are not the only horrors) and then absolving Lee of any blame.



We of course do not know  if Pryor had to write this way -- likely she had to get approval from the Lee family,  who hired her and allowed her access to the slave ledgers and other papers.

Certainly Pryor had to get some system to get such information in. She could not, for example, make a list of Lee's white looking slave girls, and the prices he paid,  for their purchase or capture.

Lee did use slave auctions, and he did regularly hire bounty hunters.  No one ever dared mention that much before.

So Pryor, for whatever reason, saw fit to blame  slaves, as you will see, for their own tortures. It was the law, she added (no such law existed, actually, nor could she show any.)  It was communication skills.  It was the girls fault.

She was not about to blame Lee.

 Pryor was clearly on Lee's "side" in every page, every paragraph, except for one item: White slave girls.


Yes, Lee owned white looking slave girls -- meaning, white.  White looking IS white.

Pryor seems infuriated when she found out about the white looking slave girls, and what Lee did to them.


White looking slave girls a BFD.

There is not a US text book we know of that does more than, at most, mention light skinned slaves.

But white -- WHITE -- looking slave girls were an issue.  Lee himself indicated the skin tone of one girl, because he wrote she could "pass for white".

Pryor could have expounded on that more -- shown us a list of his white looking girls, or prices, or where he sold or rented them out. Lee kept meticulous records,  she would have seen month by month, if not day by day financial transactions, including how much he paid bounty hunters, the names of the slave girls they pursued, and the price he paid for their capture.

Pryor does give us SOME information  -- Lee paid much higher prices for slave GIRLS about 14 years old. 

White and light skinned slavery was an issue, even in the Lincoln Douglas debates.  By the logic of enslaving the darker skinned people, Lincoln said more than once, what if you were darker skinned than someone else?  Can they enslave you?

  Lincoln posited that question, and he could have been describing Lee.

Stephen A Douglas blamed Lincoln -- claimed Lincoln would "have your daughters sleep with Niggers".   The races will mix, Douglas and others insisted, and white race will be destroyed.'

Lincoln countered that on the contrary, it was SLAVE states that had the race mixing.  He did not need add, whatever everyone already knew, slave rape was the source of mixed race slave children, and light skinned slave girls.

Pryor does NOT tell us (though she could have) if Lee's bounty hunters caught the white slaves. But she does  in effect tell us Lee had all slaves caught tortured for trying to escape.

Only if the Lee family releases the slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters will we know for sure.

There is a REASON  the Lee family refused to let anyone actually study the two trunks full of "papers".  Those papers included slave ledgers.

Pryor would have caused an uproar if she had used the honest term slave ledgers.

She simply said "monthly account books".


We all know the myth.  Lee was against slavery, an honorable man,  a man of profound religious beliefs.   A man so kind to his wife's slaves, we are told, that they refused to leave. 

Is any of that true, whatsoever?

When you learn about Lee's slave ledgers,  letters to bounty hunters, and sexually explicit letters to numerous women long after he was married, you can make a decision yourself.

But you need the facts, first.


Elizabeth Pryor is the only person in US history (that we know of) allowed by the Lee family to read his personal letters and slave ledgers.

About the only thing Pryor seemed upset about in her book was the white looking slave girls.  Yes, Lee owned white looking slave girls.

There is a lot you don't know about Lee. ___________________________________________

We will not use euphemisms here.  There have been far too many euphemisms in describing the tortures, rapes, and horrors visited upon black slaves.  If candid descriptions of who did what offends you, read no further.  This is not the place for you.


No one alive when Lee was alive, including he himself, said he was against slavery.  The letter to his wife, so often quoted to "prove" Lee was against slavery.  is actually, when you read the entire thing,  a powerful defense not just of slavery as a Godly enterprise, but the torture of slaves is for their own benefit.

Slavery is a "spiritual liberty" wrote Lee,   and the slaves are fortunate to be enslaved. It is the slave OWNER, Lee insisted (as did many others) who was burdened by slavery.  Slaves were fortunate,  and slave owners were just doing the will of God.

In fact Lee and his wife were both offended slaves did not appreciate them.  

Contrary to slaves having any affection for Lee, as Pryor herself found in his papers, slaves said Lee "was the worst man we ever saw".

But Lee was not that unusual for slavers. (Yes, Lee was a slaver -- someone who bought and sold slaves, someone whose income came from slaves, the term "Planter" is as vile an Orwellian term as any. Lee's income came from flesh, not from plants, not from selling cotton.  His money came from selling and renting out slaves, which he sold and bought. 

The human mind, of course, can not enslave others, torture others (yes, Lee had slaves tortured) without justifying it in their minds.  The greater the horrors inflicted, the greater the justification, which is exactly why Lee, and all other slave owners, used GOD and the bible as their justification.

Lee worship is so absurd that authors who write more goofy stuff (like claiming Lee knelt with all his lieutenants during battle as bombs blew up around them) won awards.

You heard right.  Lee and all his lieutenants dismounted during battle, and prayed, as bombs blew up around them.

Lee, said others, now "sits at the right hand of Christ, his Lord"  in heaven.


As Southern official documents said,  if you were against slavery, you are against GOD.   Lee concurred. 

Abolitionists, Lee wrote, are on an "evil course"  and intend to "destroy the American church." 

Did Lee believe this, or were such words just to pacify his ultra religious wife and mollify her about the tortures Lee brought to Arlington?

According to most accounts, the slaves at Arlington before Lee arrived were not tortured.  

Pryor tells us that one of the first things Lee did was to install (actually he had slaves install it) whipping posts.   And he used those whipping posts, we find out from Pryor herself, in her careful prose, regularly. 

Pain, Lee wrote, is necessary for their instruction.

He wrote in another letter that slavery was a "spiritual liberty"  and abolitionist were on an "evil course".   Those against slavery were against GOD -- abolitionist, wrote Lee, were trying to "destroy the American church."



Given that "historians"  like Douglas Southall Freeman actually won Pulitzer prizes for writing massive and supposedly factual books about Lee, praising him effusively on every page, if not every sentence, it would be reasonable to believe Freeman.

Until now.  It's clear now that Freeman either ignored the most basic information possible, or created his own distortions -- which, in the case of Mack Lee, Freeman apparently did.  

More about Mack Lee  and Douglas Southall Freeman, later.

There are considerably more vile things Lee wrote, including payments to bounty hunters, instructions to them, which reveal his prices paid for girls of a given age, and his record in his own handwriting to bounty hunters to torture - yes torture -- slaves.

Elizabeth Pryor -- who adored Lee, and worked with the Lee family, is the only person on earth (that we know of) that was allowed to actually study Lee slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters, and sexually explicit letters.

It's unlikely they make such a mistake again, unless they destroy what Pryor found. 


Of the many amazing things Pryor relates to us in careful ways is that Lee owned white looking women, and sent bounty hunters after them when they escaped.

You probably never heard that white looking slave women -- born from rape of light skinned slave women, who themselves were fathered by slave owners, was an issue in 1860s.   

How did Lee handle the white looking children born to his light skinned slaves?   

Did Lee free them because they were white?

Or did he sell them at auction (yes, Lee sold slaves at auction, per his hand written record)?

We don't know.  Pryor could have explained things in a much clearer way -- because Lee kept meticulous records, with prices, dates, names.   Pryor was able to tell us with certainty the prices paid for certain captives -- and even that Lee bought women from bounty hunters captured illegally in the North (a not uncommon way to make money for the bounty hunter, and the slave owner who bought such women). 

Pryor was not out to shock the nation -- or even to alienate the Lee family.  She wrote carefully,  so carefully that she regularly excused Lee's tortures as "communication" issues, not as the actions of a mean man.

Yet Pryor did tell us that Lee's slaves hated him -- and he them.  Lee's slaves, Pryor found out from his own papers, said Lee was "the worst man we ever saw".

Sound like a kind  man?  Anti-slavery? Devout?


Pryor should have, and could have, actually shown Lee's slave ledgers, bounty hunter letters, etc. The Lee family still has them, and you will soon learn why it could be another 150 years until they ever let anyone study them again.



Lee anti-slavery?

Lee freed his wife's slaves?

Lee so kind to his wife's slaves they refused to leave?

That's not what's in his bounty hunter letters.

That's not what's in Lee's slave ledgers.

That's not what his own hand written evidence shows.


No one alive in 1860's ever said -- including Lee -- that he was anti-slavery.  Yes, there is a letter to his wife, wherein he tries to mollify her abut the torture of slaves -- but read the entire letter. He not only defends slavery, he even defends their torture,  or as he called it, "painful discipline"  they must endure.

And because of Lee's slave ledgers themselves, and letters to his bounty hunter, we know exactly what kind of tortures Lee used. 



Lee's slave ledgers are more about the absurdity of what we accept for "scholarship"  than about Lee himself.   But Lee's slave ledgers of course speak volumes about him, too.


We only know what we are told
it can not be otherwise...

 More history professors know the name of Lee's pet chicken than know the name of Lee's white looking slave girls. Yes, he had white looking slave girls.  Let that sink in.

So it's no surprise that "history" professors simply repeat the myths they were fed. It can not be otherwise.

If we did not have (the Lee family has them) Lee's slave ledgers, you could dismiss the notion that Lee was an especially sadistic slaver as unfounded, salacious, absurd, and contrary to all scholarship.  

There is plenty of OTHER evidence of Lee's torture of slave girls -- such as eye witnesses and newspapers then.

There is plenty of OTHER evidence that Lee had free women captured in the North and turned into slaves.

But Lee's hand written slave ledgers and letters confirm these reports.  Remember that.

Until Pryor could actually see, and study, Lee's slave ledgers and letters to bounty hunters, all such claims were dismissed as silly or made up.   They were not silly, they were not made up.  

And Lee's handwritten records -- his own words -- proved it.




Eevidence in Lee's own handwriting showLee not only had slaves, of various skin tones, he was an especially cruel slaver.  He paid to have girls whipped, he used bounty hunters, he even bought kidnapped women from bounty hunters who illegally captured free women in the NORTH.

Yes, NORTH.  



 Typically Lee is spoken of as a "planter" -- as if Lee ever planted anything in his life.   Sounds great though. Elizabeth Pryor states all Lee ever wanted to be in his life "was to be a Planter".

As you will see, Pryor, more than any other person in the last 100 years, knew "planter"  was a euphemism for slaver.  She could have told us exactly how much Lee made per month and year on slaves, on slave women, slave men, slave children.

She could have showed up how much Lee paid the bounty hunters for the captured free women.  



Lee's papers filled two trunks,  and included slavery ledgers, letters to and from bounty hunters,   and even Lee's "dirty letters" -- sexually explicit letters Lee wrote for decades to various women.

Of course, show the "dirty laundry" of anyone,  if you had all their records, from any period of history and you will find surprises. 

This, however, is more than surprises about sex and bounty hunters. Lee's papers show a drastically different man that the myth shows.  Most people were smart enough to realize the Lee myth was largely fanciful -- but to an astonishing extent, the "scholarship" of Lee simply repeated myths written down 20-30 years after the war.

The Lee "scholarship" showed virtually nothing of Lee's tortures and apparent sadism, and to the extent the "scholars"  like Douglas Freeman even mentioned such things, it was only to deny them as preposterous. 




But Lee's papers are not preposterous, they were just hidden. Scholars knew they existed, and assumed, apparently, when the papers were studied they would show how wonderful Lee was, and confirm the repeated myths.

Not so much. 

Pryor had to be careful how she put that information in her book about Lee's papers. 

Why careful ?  Because Lee's papers show he owned white looking slave girls (as if black slavery is fine, and having white looking slave girls is vile stuff).   They show Lee paid 600% more for girls, than for men.  They showed Lee's regular use of bounty hunters and an apparent personal vengance by Lee on any slave woman that tried to escape.

The Lee family did not let anyone else study the ledgers (that we know of).  Nor would they release the papers to the public.   They kept them private for 150 years for a reason, is a reasonable conclusion.   But it might be the Lee family did not know what horrors were buried in price lists, letters to bounty hunters, and letters to Lee. 

It would take a scholar  months to go through the papers, check dates, correlate slave ledger entries to bounty hunter letters, and much more.  


Make no mistake, Pryor is on Lee's side.

When discussing Lee's torture of slave girls (yes, he had them tortured), and even screamed at them during their torture, according to witnesses (a fact confirmed in his own handwritten records). 

But Pryor tries to explain that away.

Lee was not cruel -- no, no, no.   Lee's tortures (whippings) of slaves, including slave girls, was because "of Lee's poor cross cultural communication skills".

See if you can beat that Orwellian double speak. 

Lee. Wrote. It. Down.



Pryor  had to say something.  

Her book is 90% or more narrative -- meaning her own thoughts about what she found.  Only 10% or less is factual information.

She could have had 50% factual -- told us, for example, all the names of the slaves Lee had whipped.   She somehow knew of the whippings, knew who he whipped,  and even seemed to know how often he used whipping, as opposed to other tortures.

Now, to know that much, she had to see quite a bit of information.  SHe did not give us the information in any clear way, just her narrative of it. 


We know too that the regular overseer refused  -- yes refused -- to whip the girl that Pryor wrote of -- the girl that was tortured and newspapers reported it.

The newspapers reported it BECAUSE the first overseer refused to whip her, because she was so small.

Think that over. 

And -- according to Pryor -- witness reported it in the newspapers, and confirmed after the war. 

And Lee's own papers, the details of which Pryor saw, confirm those reports.

  1. Three newspaper reports of the tortures
  2. Witnesses after the war confirmed it
  3. Lee's own handwritten slave ledgers confirmed it.
Pryor did not deny it -- in fact, she confirmed the tortures. And she adores Lee, she was not out to trash him whatsoever. She made every excuse possible for him. 



Remember, Pryor worked for -- literally chosen by -- the Lee family.   And apparently she got along very well with them.  

You have to wonder sometimes, if the entire family read all her work very closely.  Or did they have right of refusal? 

Certainly no one else ever got information like this from the family -- from his slave ledgers.

Pryor would not even say the term "slave ledgers".   She simply wrote about his "personal papers".

But --if she had not written this way,   does anyone believe the Lee family, Journal of Southern History, Virginia Historical Society, would approve?  Hell no.

Stunningly the Journal of Southern History and Virginia Historical Society gave thumbs up to this work.   Even though Pryor was very cautious, and took Lee's side in every way possible, and said things in Orwellian double talk or emphasise,  the Lee family had never dreamed Lee tortured slave girls, bought kidnapped women, and had white looking slave girls.

Until Pryor found it all, and more, in the slave ledgers. 


Labor management theory?  Hilarious. Was she drunk?


Pryor is like that on every issue.  The most amazing sentence in her book might the the one about slave's "satisfaction".   The slaves, Pryor wrote, did not "completely agree" with Lee's theory of labor management.

Remember that -- did not COMPLETELY agree with Lee's "theory" of labor management.

Say that to yourself ten times.  Did not completely agree with Lee's theory of labor management?

And that Lee did not have good "cross cultural communication skills.

 Not one -- not one -- of the reviews of this book that I know of even bothered to mention this.  If you can't notice this, then you either didn't read the book closely, or you were cowardly or stupid enough to not dare mention it in a review. 

Lee tortures slave girls -- Lee buys women from bounty hunters - Lee turns free women into slaves.  All might sound overly sensational, but those are the facts.

Lee an especially cruel slave owner.

Lee used slave auctions.

Lee bought his own slaves.

Lee screamed at slave girls as he had them tortured.

Pryor could have written that way.  Or spoken that way to the Lee family.

But she did not. 




Over half mulatto. 

What do you think happened to the light skinned girls born to light skinned mothers?  

Over half -- over half -- of Lee's slaves, according to Pryor -- were mulatto.  

How many were women?  About half, right? Unless he bought more women, or sold more men, whatever happened, she knew, because Lee kept apparently very detailed slave ledgers.

 Mulatto means of mixed race.  Pryor also tells us the common percentage of mulatto slaves was 10%.  Lee's mulattoes were OVER five times that.

Why? How?     

No slave owner known in history seems to have spotted an infant from a mulatto slave he owned, and said "Oh my God, we have enslaved a white child... we must find her a good white home. We are so sorry".

No, they kept the light skinned slave, and like any business, they sold the light skinned slave if they thought, all things considered, it was profitable.   Attractive slave women -- the papers called good looking slave women "likely"-- sold for more. 

And we know lighter skinned slave women sold at auction ended up in whore houses -- yes, there were whore houses in the South.

And black -- mulatto -women were sold to the owners.  

Pryor could have told us - - very likely  -- much more about who sold for which prices.  In fact, other than general comments, she stayed way away from details about which color and age girls, sold for how much money.

But she did tell us, Lee paid 600% higher prices for GIRLS.  She made it sound as if these payments were for bounties -- on escaped slaves. But read her words carefully.  Not all of Lee's bounty hunter payments were for escaped slaves.

Lee also paid bounty hunters for "others".   And Pryor relayed that odd information while discussing the Fugitive Slave Act.  Lee paid the bounty hunter for escaped slaves -- and "others".

Now, you do you suppose those "others"  were.  Well, they had to be OTHER than escaped slaves. 

Lee "failed to fill out the time consuming paper work"  for these "others".

As if there is paperwork at all, time consuming or not, for escaped slaves, and certainly there was no paper work, time consuming or not, for "others". 



Don't dare teach the truth.

 In Virginia, schools teach the name of Lee's pet chicken and the name of his horse.

As far as we know, not a single public school student in Virginia has ever learned the name of one of the several girls Lee had tied to a whipping post and whipped.

In fact, those students are taught -- fraudulently -- that Lee had no slaves, or that he freed his wife's slaves.  

Total nonsense -- no one alive during 1800-1865 ever thought, much less said, Robert E Lee did not have slaves.  The whole idea would have been preposterous.  Lee was called "King of the Spades"  early in the Civil War for his massive use of slave labor.

Lee's slaves "loved him most of all"



and supported him on every page


Elizabeth Pryor,
Abolitionist,  Lee wrote in another letter, according to Pryor, "were trying to destroy the American church".

But read her book yourself. You can easily breeze right through these passages in the book, because it's always so gently inserted.  It almost seems like she is saying other slave owners did this, and she goes for that impression repeatedly.   But she is also talking about Lee's tortures, Lee's cruelties, Lee's purchase of other women.


Elizabeth Pryor is the only person in US history allowed to actually study Lee's slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters. The Lee family could have made them public any time in the last 150 years.

The Lee family  still have not allowed the public to see them, much less study them, except for Lee devotee, Elizabeth Pryor. 



'Lee is now in heaven, seated next to Christ, his Lord'.

Essentially the fraudulent goofy books about Lee during that time are the basis for what we teach in schools.  If the things in those books were true, it would not be irrational to respect Lee.   

That's the problem. Much of the basic "facts" we have been told about Lee are destroyed by his own slave ledgers and personal letters.




It seems at times as if Pryor was willing to be candid on some pages  - but not on others.

Since sadly Elizabeth Pryor was the victim of fatal traffic accident in 2015,  we can not ask her, but a close reading of her words suggest Pryor was at times furious with Lee.   It seems  what pissed off was not torture -- or even rape. 

 What seemed to piss off Pryor was the "white looking" slave girls.

Yes, Lee had white looking slave girls -- they could pass for white.

As if the torture and rape of a woman with darker pigment in her skin was understandable, and defensible.

But if that woman was a bit lighter -- that just about drove Pryor bananas.


"Increasingly, whites were enslaving other whites."  

Pryor tells you about Lee's white looking slave girls in a way you can easily think (by design) she is talking about all slave owners.  Not really - read closely. She is talking about LEE and his white looking slave girls.

"Increasingly, whites were enslaving other whites."  This clever sentence, of course, does not mention the name "Lee".   But the details in her overall narrative show it was Lee personally who owned white looking slave girls, and had even them chased by bounty hunters when they (the white looking slave girls) escaped. 

She was writing about Lee-- and she showed you -- if you paid attention closely -- that Lee had by far more light skinned slaves (and slave girls) that anyone else.



Lee "only wanted to bring souls to Christ".

Lee "Simply wanted to be a planter"

Lee and his lieutenants  "knelt for silent prayer during battle, bombs blowing up around them."

Pryor joined the absurdity at times, of the "historians" in the past. 

Some other absurd Orwellian double speech we covered above. But Pryor is right up there with the best.  Lee only "wanted to be a planter".

Planter?   Seriously? 

Say it plain -- a slave owner, a big time slave owner.  That is what "planter" means, and she well knew it.  But that's her style, her way of softening the horrors.

Lee always wanted to be a big time slaver.   Say that -- be honest, be candid. She never would write candidly -- but it's easy for us to sit her and judge Pryor.  She had to deal with the Lee family, get the approval of Virginia Historical Society.  I assume she did the best she could -- and no one else ever told as much as she did, anyway. 

Point is,   Lee did not plant anything, his crop was not veggies. His crop was flesh -- the sale of, and rental of, and breeding of, slaves. 

Why not tell people that?  Why not be honest, candid? 



Still -- give Pryor all the credit possible. 

She did tell us, in Orwellian double speak at times, in euphemistic nonsense at times, but she did get the facts out.  

Pryor passed away (automobile accident April 15,  2015) so there is no way to ask her, but very likely the Lee family, who granted her access to Lee's physical slave ledgers and bounty hunter letters,  were not about to allow her to show you the gruesome and ugly proof.

Pryor actually took Lee's side -- in every single instance of cruelty and torture. Yes, it was torture, yes it was cruelty. Deliberate, calculated, repeated cruelty.   Pryor insisted Lee "had every right" to protect "his property" -- she was writing about his "discipline" (torture) of his slave girls.



The very dark black man in the picture  certainly could not have been the sperm donor one generation removed  for this nearly white looking child.  

In fact, slave men had to sleep apart from slave women -- do you know why?  When the white men came at night, to pick the women they wanted to rape -- the black men, if they were there, would try to stop that outrage.

If a black man struck a white man in anger -- the penalty was death.  Remember that, because as you will see, the Lee's father did have a girl hung because she knocked down a white man who was beating her.   

So, black men could not sleep in the same barn as the black women.

Welcome to Lee's world.  





"Coercion was used  in those situations. "

Since Pryor is the polar opposite of someone trying to trash Lee, when she writes that  rape was common,  she has a very good reason to say that. You can be sure she did not want to write those words.     In fact,  she used ebonics to say it .

And when she chose to describe the rapes as violent rapes -- she was again careful.  She wrote "Coercion was used in those situations."

She was writing about RAPES. Violent rapes.  She would not of course write "The slave women were raped violently".   But she would write a much softer "Coercion was used in those situations" 

Pryor goes into her "non-describing"  mode in all these matters.   She is not about to paint you a picture in your head of women being tied up, or dragged off, or raped right after a slave auction.  Whatever force was used -- and it was used -- Pryor is not going to say what that force was. A whip?  Grabbing a slave girl after dark? 

We have no clue.  


If you defend slavery as Godly, as Lee did, as good for the slaves, as Lee did, and state that it is evil for men to try to end slavery, as Lee did, and if you whip slave girls or have them whipped, as Lee did, and taunt them during their torture, as Lee did, it is no step whatsoever to buy black women, as Lee did, who his hunters captured in the North that were NOT escaped slaves.


Picture of Lee's soldiers gathering thousands of free blacks in the North during the Civil War-- taking them South for sale.

How do we teach about this? 

We hardly teach it, and then even in mentioned, we don't blame Lee, who actually did it. We blame nameless "confederates". 

Newspapers today show the caption "Confederates capture escaped slaves".

No, these were not -- not -escaped slaves.  These were blacks in the North during the war.  Remember that.  Lee ordered  his men to round up all free blacks. 

That is what they did.  They were NOT escaped slaves, and if there were any escaped slaves in the mix, it did not matter in the slightest. 

Davis had just issued an order to enslave all blacks their army could. Let me repeat that -- DAVIS ISSUED THE ORDER that blacks should be rounded up and enslaved - even in the North.

So what Lee did during the Civil War -- at Davis's direction -- Lee had already done the same thing, in a smaller way, before the war, with bounty hunters.


1) Essentially, what "historians" have told us simply is not based in fact.  Almost all of what we were told was as fiction as a novel.   

2)  Repeating myths do not make them true.

Alan Nolan said 25 years ago that we should "start over"  on Lee, because what we had was not scholarship. To paraphrase him,  what we had was bullshit.

 He had not known what was in Lee's slave ledgers -- he did not know Lee's torture of slave girls, purchase of kidnapped women, etc etc.   




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.


  1. You post the picture of the mulatto boy baby several times, but you never show us any of Lee's mulatto slave girls. Why is this?

  2. How do you know the child is a male? He had white looking slave girls of various ages, and Pryor tells us that "increasingly" whites (meaning Lee) were enslaving other whites.

    You have no idea if the child is male or female. You apparently hope that by enslaving white males, instead of females, that Lee seems less of a vile POS he is. Lee had slaves, FROM BIRTH, that looked white. Too complicated? If he did not own them from birth, he would have had to buy the white looking females at auction.

    This whole notion of Lee's ownership of whites --as worse than owning blacks -- shows a basic misunderstanding of pain. Do you not think enslaving, torturing, raping, and selling the children of black women is equally as vile as enslaving torturing raping and selling the children of white women?

    Clearly you do not know that enslaving of whites was a "growing thing" in the South as the rapes of slave women by white men progressed. And as we know, from Pryor herself, rape was common.

    Common. Rape. Was. Common.

    Those rapes -- then when that female child is old enough, they raped her. This is clearly the case not only because of written evidence at the time, but the growing number of white looking slaves. White looking FEMALE slaves, we know, were prized and priced higher. I bet you did not know that?

    Do you think men who tortured slaves, raped them, bought women at auction, etc etc, suddenly stopped their actions and said "Oh my God, this child is white looking -- let us hurry to get her to a white woman for her care and upbringing"

    Hell no. ANd remember we have evidence that white looking women were valued at auctions, and went to men for sex slaves, and to whore houses, often in New Orleans.

    Why would white looking, or light skinned women, be sold to whore houses? Because whore houses found -- according to written evidence at the time --that white men preferred to use a whore that was not dark, with negroid nose. They were taught, since birth, that black was a vile color for a human. But lighter skinned women, with white features -- they could make those women be prostitutes, without pay, until they died.

    Lee was part of that.