The most recent example of the statuary removal effort here in town was the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee which had been resident (not surprisingly) in "Lee Park". (I've not heard that renaming the park is currently on the zealot's agenda, but that cannot be far away as soon as they realize their error of omission.)
Late breaking News Flash!!! As I was listening to the noon news broadcast yesterday, I found that my prediction has, in fact, come true. The City of Dallas has temporarily renamed Lee Park to be Oak Lawn Park until a new name that, presumably, avoids ruffling the feathers of those in the city who are offended by Oak Trees and/or Bermuda grass can be agreed to.
Anyway, back to the Lee statue. While I have always known in some corner of my mind that General Lee had been offered command of the Union Army in the run up to the Civil War after the attack on Fort Sumter, it had never occurred to me to research the event more fully until the statue removal controversy raised its ugly head. At that time, I was informed by the local media that the reason for protesting the existence of Lee's statue was that he is believed to be a symbol of support for the institution of slavery. That claim got me to wondering. "If", I thought to myself, "Lee was such a proponent of slavery, why would Abraham Lincoln, 'The Great Emancipator', offer him (Lee) command of the Army with which he (Lincoln) planned to take on The Confederacy?"
To answer my question, I turned to the writings of Lee's greatest historian, Douglas Southall Freeman, author of the three volume study in command : "Lee's Lieutenants". Freeman's account of the 18 April 1861 meeting at which the offer to command the Union Army was made contains the remembrances of both participants, (then) COL Lee and Frances Preston Blair who was "sounding out" Lee at Lincoln's behest and with the concurrence of Secretary of War Cameron. The meeting took place over several hours and Lee's recollection, written in his own hand, states "After listening to his (Blair's) remarks, I declined the offer...to take command of the army...stating that, though opposed to secession, and deprecating war, I could take no part in an invasion of the Southern states."
Mr. Blair's report of the interview is somewhat more detailed. He says that after the offer of the command was made, "Lee said he was devoted to the Union. He said...he would do everything in his power to save it, and that if he owned all the [slaves] in the South, he would give them up to save the Union...". Further, Blair recounts that, "Lee said he did not know how he could draw his sword upon his native state."
These do not sound to me like the words of a man dedicated, above all else, to keeping black people in chains. And it should be noted that, while Lee did, in fact, own some slaves he did not buy them---they were inherited and he freed them all in 1862. By contrast, U. S. Grant also owned slaves but they were not freed until after the passage of the 13th Amendment in December of 1865.
Kind of makes you wonder about whose statue is coming down next.