View single post by Shadowrebel
 Posted: Sat Jul 22nd, 2006 07:46 pm
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Joined: Tue Sep 13th, 2005
Location: Old Forge, Pennsylvania USA
Posts: 71

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I have had time to research your post since returning from my morning chores. Several things strike me as odd about it. 1) The source National Anti-Slavery Standard, April 14, 1866 would love to tarnish Lee. 2) Would Wesley Norris, a former slave, refer to Lee as General? Not likely, most former slave refer to the masters as just that master in one form or the other. 3) The statement is given in quite excellent English, hardly the words of an uneducated slave, I can find no reference to Norris being that well educated The only thing I can find is that The Custis and Lee families provided their slaves with a rudimentary education, spending money, and specialized medical care.(source: . which is from the Nationl Park Services. I can not find it in any other form except the one you used. This may indicated the words are not Norris's but, someone used his name to write the account. 4) It is highly unlikely a county constable would have been called in to do the whipping. If the overseer would not apply the whip he would not have applied brine to inflict further pain.

Add to this the following: On June 24, 1859, the New York Daily Tribune published two anonymous letters (dated June 19, 1859[8] and June 21, 1859[9]), each of which claimed to have heard that Lee had had the Norrises whipped, and went so far as to claim that Lee himself had whipped the woman when the officer refused to. Douglas S. Freeman, in his 1934 biography of Lee, described the letters to the Tribune as "Lee's first experience with the extravagance of irresponsible antislavery agitators" and asserted that "There is no evidence, direct or indirect, that Lee ever had them or any other Negroes flogged. The usage at Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia among people of Lee's station forbade such a thing." Michael Fellman, in The Making of Robert E. Lee (2000) (source: Which is contrast with: Michael Fellman, in The Making of Robert E. Lee (2000), found the claims that Lee had personally whipped Mary Norris "extremely unlikely," but not at all unlikely that Lee had had the slaves whipped: "corporal punishment (for which Lee substituted the euphemism 'firmness') was an instrinsic and necessary part of slave discipline. Although it was supposed to be applied only in a calm and rational manner, overtly physical domination of slaves, unchecked by law, was always brutal and potentially savage."[11] (source:

With the exception of the Norris interview there is no evidence I can find Lee every whipped slaves. I still stand by my last post that if Lee did this he is among the worse of the slave owner. I find it highly unlike this account is true given Lee's attitude about slaves and the lack of any other comfirmation of the account. If provided more compelling information of this event I will surely reconsider the truth of the account.

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