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The two most celebrated army generals during the Civil War in America are Ulysses Grant and Robert Lee. A close examination of the attitudes of these individuals regarding slavery, emancipation, succession and the victory of the Union in America reveals that there is a great difference. Primarily, the two fought against each other in the battlefield whereby Lee surrendered to Grant. The fact that Robert Lee fought for the Confederates shows that he was for the continued practice of slavery. On the contrary, Grant supported the Union’s pursuit for the emancipation of slaves by leading the soldiers in combat to free the southerners from slavery. In this discussion, the exploration of the beliefs of Grant and Lee regarding slavery, freedom, and succession will be the focus.
Slavery, Emancipation, and Succession
Evidently, the decision to lead the Confederates army against the Union army was a clear indication that General Robert Lee wanted slavery to continue. It is significant to note that the indifferent attitude regarding granting slaves their freedom is attributable to viewing slaves as property (Turner). Lee embraced the values of the American Society of exercising slavery. He even made it worse for the slaves that worked on his farms. Instead of granting them their freedom immediately as presented in his father’s will, he opted to retain them and owned them as his workers for five years.
One other aspect that highlights that Lee did not support emancipation was the fact that he decided to hire his slaves to other white families contrary to his father’s will (Turner). In this way, it is apparent that Lee was not ready to abandon slavery and usher in the new way of life where slaves had equal rights as the Whites. Therefore, engaging in combat against the Union troops that fought Confederates that wanted to continue practicing slavery, the fight against emancipation and a succession of rule from servitude to freedom. Therefore, his failure in defeating the Union troops did not anchor well with his plan. In fact, the choice to fight for the Confederates proved one of the worst decisions in his life as a soldier since he fought against his family who supported the emancipation and success of the Union troops.
As noted from history, Ulysses Grant fought alongside the Union troops. The troops were fighting against rebels motivated by the Confederates course of maintaining the practice of slavery. The belief of Grant was a divided America would be the cause of weakening all the citizens and therefore, he resorted to restoring unity and equality (Grant, 2012, p. 432). In this way, it is significant to note that Grant believed that institution of slavery should be abolished. Therefore, fighting the Confederates army was a clear indication of his disapproval of servitude and disunity as the Confederacy threatened both of these aspects.
In his memoirs, it is evident that he hated injustices, cruelty because he embraced egalitarianism in his life. After winning the civil war in Mexico, he welcomed the plea from Lee regarding his surrender. Therefore, he became contented with the succession of regimes that supported servitude and oppressed those who fought for the freedom to an American society that treated all equally. Therefore, the victory of the Union to free the southerners from slavery was a great achievement in his life. The belief of uniting Americans and granting the citizens equal human rights as well as treatment came true for General Grant because before and during his tenure as President, he championed for the reservations of the oppressed and was a great friend to both Native and African Americans (Grant, 2012, p. 434). On the contrary, General Lee regretted having fought for the Confederacy and its principles because he lost a lot including his family.
The Southern White’s Acceptance of Emancipation
The fact that the Confederates were defeated and slavery were brought to an end in the South, the Whites from this American region portrayed an indifferent attitude. Firstly, I would note that the Whites did not embrace the idea of ending slavery; therefore, they fought with the aim of retaining the old order as much as possible. Evidently, the reaction from the Whites regarding emancipation of slaves characterized with dismay as they got into conflict with the freedmen who resorted to uniting with their families. Most of the whites lost many of their family members in the civil war.
I would note confidently that the fact that they joined memorial associations, which were responsible for establishing Confederate cemeteries and monuments, was an indication that they did not approve the idea of emancipation. Notably, some of them resorted to violent opposition to the new order of living with free individuals especially the blacks that were their former slaves. In this way, I believe that they made the South an unbearable place and this prompted disunity and continuous conflict between the former slaves and the whites. Some of the Whites that would not cope with the new order and did not want to lose more than they had in the war opted to leave South and settling in white-dominated regions in America, especially the North.
- Grant, Ulysses Simpson. Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. Dover Publications, 2012. Print.
- Turner, George. Robert E. Lee. 2017. Web. 23 Nov. 2017.