Richmond Dispatch

September 10, 1868


Dispatch Argues that the Civil War was justified under the constitution and that none of the actions of the confederacies leaders or soldiers were treasonous but in fact they were brave.


The Right of Secession- General LeeWho Educated our Officers ? In an article upon the correspondence which recently passed between General Rosecrans and General Lee and others, the New York Tribune goes out of its way to make the following low attack upon Genreal Lee : " Rosecrans and Lee were alike educated at West Point at the expense of that Union, alike taking a solemn onth of fidelity to that Union. Thst oath General Lee deliberately broke, to plunge into a rebellion for which he at the time declared, in a letter to his sister, that there was no justification." General Lee might well have held that there was no good reason for the secession of Virginia from the Union, and yet, when that secession had been accomplished so far as to make it valid in his eyes, have drawn his sword in defence of her rights. It was the belief of our people that Virginia had a perfect right to secede from tho Union. The World attempts a defence of General Lee in those words : "The southern doctrine of allegiance was no doubt erroneous ; but it was nevertheless very sincerely held. The theory of Mr. Calhoun had been set forth by that powerful reasoner with such acuteness and ingenuity that it commanded the nearly universal absent of the whole southern mind - and of General Lee among the rest. By that theory allegiance was due primarily to the State, and only through it to the Federal Government. The citizen of Virginia was made a citizen of the United States by the free action of Virginia in ratifying the Constitution ; and it was claimed that she had the same authority to unloose that she originally had to bind. Now, as General Leo believed this doctrine with all the sincerity of a frank, manly nature, what was his duty, as he understood it, when his State came to secede ? Clearly, to go with hie State, whatever his own private judgment might be respecting the expediency of her act." That is very well said. The doctrine of our people in 1860 was that they owed allegiance to the United States Government only because the State of Virginia had commanded them to obey the laws of that Government, and that when Virginia should command them no longer to respect those laws, they would still be bound to obey Virginia. But the World does Virginians great injustice in supposing that they learned this doctrine from Mr. Calhoun. They always held it. The celebrated Virginia and Kentucky resolutions affirmed it iu tho clearest language. Indeed, there cannot well have been any period in the history of the State when our people did not as a mass believe in the right of secession. For when Virginia went into the Union she went into it upon the terms written in the article of ratification, which was adopted on the 25th of June, 1788, and has been republished in every copy of the ' Code of Virginia which has appeared from that day to this. Those terms were : " We, the delegates of the people of Virginia, * * * do, in the name and in behalf of the people of Virginia, declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by thein whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression,'9 etc. ' So that whatever might have been in IJSGO, or may be now, Mr. Greeley's opinion, General Lee broke no oath when he went into "rebellion" against Black Republicanism. He simply did hie duty. Ne have no apprehensions as to what will be the verdict of posterity upon this point. The Tribune may read it in the unbounded admiration of General Lee's character "which is felt and confessed by the intelligent men of every nation in Christendom. The power of tho sword has destroyed the right of secession, as it had previously in the history of the world destroyed many an other cherished right. Virginia now has no more right to secede from the Union than Ireland has to secede from England, or Hungary from Austria, or Crete from Turkey, or Poland from Russia, But the Tribune avers-as thousands of its allies had often averred before- that General Lee was educated at the expense of the Union. This is suggest falsi. It is true in one sense. It is false so far as the impression it was intended to convey is concerned. General Lee was educated at west Point because Virginia had paid for his tuition, and was entitled to have him educated there. No State could then enter more cadets than she was entitled to, however it may be now, when Radical Yankees disown their own States and enter their sons as from the southern States. And what is true as to General Lee is true as to all the other Confederate officers who had been educated at West Point. We use hib name only for convenience' sake. They were all educated at the expenso of their own States. The charge is a miserable one at best. It smells of filthy lucre. But it is false to all intents and purposes, and its repetition can do no harm to the reputation of the brave and gallant soldiers whose are among
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Jacob Markman




“Richmond Dispatch,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed February 1, 2023,