In the shadow of a Confederate flag discussion, the author of a new Lee book muses on the general’s mutable opinions on secession and commemoration.
Where Confederate battle flag replicas once flew at Washington and Lee University in the chapel above Robert E. Lee’s tomb, controversy now hangs as Virginians prepare to observe the January 19 birthday of the Confederate general-turned-college president.
Almost 150 years after the end of the Civil War, the skirmishing over how to remember the most famous rebel general continues even at a Virginia college named, in part, for him. About half the students and alumni polled by a campus magazine opposed the decision to remove the flags this summer. Fortunately, the university officials who made the call can draw on the example of an improbable and imperfect champion: Lee himself.