Lee's statue in Washington.
I have paid my tribute. One word more and I have done. Some six months ago, in a certain academic address at Chicago [see ante, pp. 1-33], I called to mind the fact that a statue of Oliver Cromwell now stood in the yard of Parliament House, in London, close to that historic hall of Westminster from the roof of which his severed head had once looked down, and asked, “Why should it not also be so with Lee?” Why should not his effigy, erect on his charger and wearing the insignia of his Confederate rank, gaze from his pedestal across the Potomac at the Virginia shore, and his once dearly loved home at Arlington? My suggestion was met with an answer to which I would now make reply. It was objected that such a memorial was to be provided for from the national treasury, and that Lee, educated at West Point, holding for years the commission of the United States, had borne arms against the nation. The rest I will not here repeat The thing was pronounced impossible. Now let me here explain myself. I never supposed that Robert E. Lee's statue in Washington would be provided for by an appropriation from the national treasury. I did not wish it; I do not think it fitting. Indeed, I do not rate high statues erected by act of congress, and paid for by public money. They have small significance. Least of all would I suggest such a one in the case of Lee. Nor was it so with Cromwell. His effigy is a private gift, placed where it is by an act of Parliament. So, when the time is ripe, should it be with Lee, and the time will come. When it does come, the effigy, assigned to its place merely by act of congress, should bear some such inscription as this:
“Robert Edward Lee.
Erected by Contributions
of Those Who,
Wearing the Blue or Wearing the
Gray, Recognize Brilliant Military
Achievements and Lofty Character,
Honor, Greatness and Humanity
in War, and Devotion and
Dignity in Defeat.”