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February 13, 2024 62 mins

Robert sits down with Jason Petty aka Prop to begin the epic story of Robert E. Lee, prominent furry, slave owner and Confederate General.

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Media. What mourning my Carl Weathers. This is Behind the Bastards,
a podcast where me and my friend Jason Petty aka
Prop are huge fans of the recently deceased Carl Weathers
prop Man exactly. Yeah, he was a fucking real one.

What was your favorite Carl Weathers?

Speaker 2 (00:25):
You like you have.

Speaker 3 (00:26):
To like pick a decade, you know what I'm saying,
Like that's the hard part with him. You know that
man had a fucking career because I mean obviously like
Happy Gilmore. Yeah, absolutely, it's in the pantheon screen. Yeah, yeah,
like that's in the pantheon. Like you can't, Yeah, you
can't pick a character, you know, just so important.

Speaker 1 (00:46):
I think Happy Gilmore it was like my favorite movie
as a kid, Like we would paint Warhammer minies and
watch it every I probably saw the movie two hundred
times and yeah, he just and then fucking Predator too, and.

Speaker 3 (00:57):
Rocky Rocky Creditor like the big old like twenty inch
pythons and like like looking huge, crazy dude.

Speaker 2 (01:07):
I mean, rest in peace are real?

Speaker 3 (01:08):
On this second day of Black History Month, matter of fact,
happy Black History Month. Yes, and I'll trade if I
could speak for the black delegation, Like I'll trade Tim
Scott for a let's say simply Red.

Speaker 2 (01:24):
We're gonna call simply Red black for this month.

Speaker 3 (01:26):
Okay, we're gonna call him black cause like we're gonna
call him black. Yeah, We're gonna we're gonna call him
black for this month. Like that that white boy has
some soul.

Speaker 4 (01:35):

Speaker 3 (01:35):
Okay, hold and that there's no way that man ain't black.

Speaker 1 (01:43):
We'll send out, we'll send out a letter. We'll send
out send it to Manchester. You know who definitely isn't black.
Prop Oh boy, Uh.

Speaker 3 (01:52):
Terrible, take hibout, bro take about I'm saying in four seasons,
this is yeah, like this might be this this, this
might be a top five top five transition.

Speaker 4 (02:07):
Yeah we are.

Speaker 1 (02:08):
We are doing finally the Robert E.

Speaker 4 (02:11):
Lee episodes.

Speaker 1 (02:12):
Yeah, which, like you know, growing up in the South
as I did, I'm a Texan boy, right. I think
that people are broadly aware of that there were like
three heroes who were like the canonical three male heroes
because everybody loves Dolly Parton and Dolly's Dolly's Dollies gym,
Yeah exactly, But there were there were three men that

were like the holy Trinity of like Southern masculinity. When
I was a kid, there was Dale Earnhardt, Samuel Houston,
and Robert E.

Speaker 3 (02:39):
Lee. Samuel who Samuel Houston, he's the founder, George Jackson.

Speaker 4 (02:46):
I mean, I.

Speaker 2 (02:49):
Was not prepared for I.

Speaker 1 (02:51):
Wouldn't call him like an arcana Southern masculinity though, And honestly,
of those three, Dale Earnhardt is the only one who
was actually a decent person. Right, that's brought people are
broadly aware of that. Now, Robert E. Lee was a
deep at least the kind of people who listened to
this podcast, was not a great man, But there's still
this kind of attitude that like, well, yeah, he was

obviously fighting for an evil side, and so that says
bad things about him. But he was a really good general.
He was a great commander, and for visionist history, we
will be talking about what he was good at and
what he was bad at in these episodes, and we
will also be talking about, in addition to his life,
kind of the ways in which his life has been

distorted and deranged by the kind of media that's come
out in the century and a half since the.

Speaker 4 (03:39):
First Civil War.

Speaker 1 (03:40):
Right, Yeah, and obviously you know you'll be doing an
episode in our second week of these about the Lost
Cause mythology and how that took off. I'm going to
sprinkle a little bit of that in here, because, for
one thing, Roberty Lee is kind of like on his own.
He's not like Saddam Hussein. He's not threatening his high
school teacher with a handgun to teach him how to
read right. He's he is kind of the slight goodie

two shoes. So in order to keep it interesting, we
do need a kind of pepper in some of the
deranged things people have said about him, since that really
exaggerates his legacy. And a good example of this, a
modern example of this is the book Who Was Robert E.

Speaker 3 (04:16):

Speaker 1 (04:16):
By Bonnie Bader. Now you have seen books in the
Who Was? Series? These are these kids books where everybody
has a huge head, right, It'll be some yeah, like
massive head.

Speaker 4 (04:26):
Yeah he had, Yeah.

Speaker 1 (04:29):
Yeah, he's got one of those. And they're not from
what I can tell, they're not on the whole super problematic.
And I will say this one is not fully lost
cause it's more that it like absorbs some Lost Cause
stuff in the middle of like it's trying to be fair,
but it yeah, it's almost impossible unless you're actually being
a rigorous historian to not absorb some of that because
there's so much. I'm not saying that to like forgive

these people for doing it. But it's not like a
it's not like a pro Confederacy book, right. Yeah, the
cover of this is very funny that all of the
the covers of these are unhindered.

Speaker 4 (05:01):
I don't know why they give It's like everybody does.

Speaker 1 (05:03):
Like the Golden Eye big head sheet for the people
on these books, yuh yeah, like.

Speaker 3 (05:07):
When we got the Rosa Barks one for our daughter, like, yeah,
we had a fend of those. I will say this though,
speaking to speaking to like you know, obviously like as
far as like American bastards like Robert E. Lee's he's
on our rushmore, Like yeah, you can't not take him
off the Rushmore. But to add to his mystique, like
I can even say me as who again, listeners are

not I say it all the time. You know, I'm
a child of a freedom fighter or you know, black militant.
I'm the child of one. But kudos to him, because
the first time I heard of the General Lee was
Dukes of Hazard. Yeah, and I loved the show, and
I had the little I had a little General Lee
hot wheels with the Confederate flag on top and shout

out my dad for not ruining my innocence, yeah, and
letting me love this thing, having no idea. Are not
connecting the dots, you know what I'm saying. Why was
you know I'm saying, but like, I didn't connect the dots.
I thought it was cool seeing the car jump over
to you know, in the stupid eighties show they jump
over the ditches and yeah, the show.

Speaker 1 (06:12):
I watched that show as a kid, right, And I
watched the I watched the reboot movie, which wasn't great,
and that probably I was like part of the Lost
Cause stuff, right, Yeah, But these like who Was books
that one of the things that's interesting about me is
the kind of dichotomy between the bits of Lost Cause
shit in there and the stuff that is trying to
be like accurate history. Like, for example, there's this paragraph

about the plantation system in the book that's like not bad, right,
and this appears this this is like a little box
that they put in when they say that, like the
Lee family had a plantation, it's like a plantation life
rich white people in the South lived on big farms
called plantations, where crops such as cotton and tobacco were grown.
Most of the workers on these plantations were slaves who
were either born in Africa or descended from people taken

from there. These slaves were forced to work for free
from sun up to sundown. The slaves had no rights,
and the plantation owners grew rich. And that's like, not bad.
That's a pretty good way to explain that to a kid.

Speaker 3 (07:06):
I think those are yeah, bullet points. That is correct,
that's the important stuff. Yet, here's how the book summarizes
Lee's decision to fight for the Confederacy and fight for slavery.
When asked to lead Northern troops against the South, Robert E.
Lee was even more torn. How could he go to
war against his friends and family who lived in Virginia.
It was a hard choice. Robert thought about loyalty, he

thought about honor. In the end, Robert decided to fight
against the country that his forefathers helped to create. For Robert,
the most important thing was his family and his home, Virginia.
And that is bullshit. And yeah, we will talk. We
will be in the episode where we get to this.
We will talk more about that, but like, just as
a quick aside, he had multiple family members who fought
for the union, So like, no, it wasn't just a.

Speaker 1 (07:49):
Matter of not wanting to fight his family, right, not
at all, because he did. He objectively did.

Speaker 2 (07:54):

Speaker 1 (07:55):
That said, this is a good example of like the
milder and kind of the more modern side of the
pro lead spectrum.

Speaker 4 (08:01):
Right, this is a.

Speaker 1 (08:02):
Casual absorption of the of the lost Cause narratives as
opposed to a dedicated one. And I think it's interesting
to kind of look at that in addition to somebody
older and harder stuff.

Speaker 3 (08:10):
Right, Yeah, I think I'm gonna, like, I'll when we
do the lost Cause thing, I'll probably hit this point hard.
But I think it's important too because it keeps coming
back like that, the difference between and the importance of
the difference between history and memory.

Speaker 4 (08:26):
Yeah, and like and.

Speaker 3 (08:28):
That memory is really more about the future and history
is more about the past, because I like, memory is malleable,
Like you can shape that memory shape's identity. It forms culture,
it you know what I'm saying. It, It creates narrative.
That's what memory does. Whereas history is the factual truth
of what happened, which for most of us, even now,

for most of us is rarely The point is like
what actually happened. It's our memory of what happened, and
how that shapes how I view the world world now.
And I think that he's a perfect example of that
in choosing to remember him a certain way.

Speaker 1 (09:05):
And it's it's interesting. I think that that that dichotomy
between like reality and memory is especially harsh when it
comes to war. And I can think of a modern
example this from my own life. I have a couple
of friends who served in a marine unit in the
early invasion of Iraq, and I've gotten to spend some
time both with them and some o their like like
gatherings of their old unit. And one of the interesting

things is hearing different people tell stories about the same
event and then talking to others about them be like,
that is not what happened. That is apps and they
were all there right like that, and they have some
people have convinced themselves of and who knows how much
of it is like wanting to believe that you did
better than you did. Who knows how much of it
is just honestly like it's a chaotic situation, like your
memory gets fucked up. Trauma fucks up memory. Like, yeah,

it's it's super malleable. So when you get to the
history of warfare, right, Like, just even just because something
is an eyewitness account doesn't mean it's fucking true. Yeah,
that's just the reality of the situation. But to get
to the truth of who Robert E. Lee was and
why he did what he did, we have to start
a lot further back than his own life, back in fact,

to the earliest Les in the historical record. Now, the
precise reality of his genealogy pasted a certain point is
up for questioning, right, given the state of record keeping. Yeah,
you should interpret what I'm saying is not like this
is the objective genealogical truth, but this is the family
lore that he was raised with, Right, So this was
the truth for him, which is what matters for how
his background affected him more than the reality of it, right.

Speaker 4 (10:31):

Speaker 1 (10:32):
And the family lore of the Lees traces their line
back to the Norman conquest of England. The founder of
the family, according to legend, was Lncelot Lee from l Dune, France.
He marched into England with William the Conqueror and earned
a name for himself in the Battle of Hastings in
ten sixty six. Right that that is the origin of
the Lee family and family lore.

Speaker 3 (10:53):
Right, wow, as they know it. That like they formed
modern England. Yes, yes, that's wow, that's quite and also
claim from the beginning military men and aristocratic military men.
Right that is that is a high social status. And
his descendants have continued up to the present day. There
have been les in modern wars, right, descendants of his
family and serving at a pretty high rate. So that

is I think probably a mix of both the weight
of legacy and just like yes, some people are naturally
inclined to be warriors, right, Like that's just a reality
of history, you know. Yeah, like if all of your
ancestors served in various militaries, it probably means like you're
drawn to that kind of thing inherently. Yeah, like yeah,
a good bit of like nature and nurture, like you know,

that's just like I said, how this is this is
how we form identity. This is what the men in
our family do they yes, yes, they are violent and
this is this is a consistent thing for the LEAs
generations after Hastings and eleven ninety two, his ancestor Lional
Lee was a cavalryman in the Third Crusade, which.

Speaker 4 (11:55):
Sh ended well, I think right.

Speaker 1 (11:58):
One of the things about the Lee is that, firstly,
who picked the Norman side is like the best of
them at deciding what side.

Speaker 3 (12:06):
They're pretty much yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe two maybe two.

Speaker 4 (12:12):
Well, well we'll talk about it the other world. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (12:13):

Speaker 1 (12:14):
Centuries of service though to the crown and expanding wealth
eventually kind of culminates in Sir Henry Lee. And he
is a Knight of the Garter under Queen Elizabeth. But
he's also a young son, so he's not going to
inherit any of the family money. If you know anything
about the colonization of the Americas, a lot of it
was done by like second third fourth, a lot of
like the leadership right would have been these these second third, fourth,

fifth whatever sons of wealthy families who like, I'm not
going to get anything unless I go take part in this. Right,
my family name can secure me a position, but like,
I'm not going to.

Speaker 4 (12:48):
Inherit, you know.

Speaker 1 (12:49):
Yeah, And that's what Sir Henry Lee does, and that's
why he winds up moving to America to be the
Colonial Secretary of the Virginia Colony under Governor William Berkeley.

Speaker 4 (13:00):
One of my.

Speaker 1 (13:00):
Sources for this is the very dishonestly named memoir of
Robert E. Lee, which is like it's build as his
autobiography that he never finished, so like other people put
it together based on interviews and notes, it's a biography.
It's a very cloying positive biography. But they call it
a memoir, which should let you know how reputable it is.
But it's interesting how it describes some things. And this

is how it describes Sir Henry Lee, the first Americanly
he was possessed of a handsome person, fine talents, and
popular manners, and by these qualities was enabled to secure
influence over the colonists. Now, when I say influence, what
that means is like the Virginia Colony is a corporate monopoly, right,
it is a corporation, and it is it is a

dangerous thing, like going there, you don't have a high
odds of surviving. About sixty five percent of immigrants to
the colony in the period that he came over died
soon after moving there, So this is a dangerous gig.

Speaker 3 (13:56):
I'd also say too, like you know, to interrupt your
real quick is like, yeah, the the like telling of
it's it's man, it's just it keeps coming up. But
like the telling of even just the founding of America
that these it was these like lofty ideas of these
like extremely pious people searching for freedom to practice their

faith freely. Is like it's like, well, that's one way
to tell it, you know.

Speaker 2 (14:28):
Another way to.

Speaker 3 (14:28):
Tell it is kind of what was the majority of it,
which was like you said, it's like people that ain't
gonna get no inheritance, why I'm gonna go try to
get some land and we're gonna go make some money.
This was a financial move for the vast majority of
people that came over here. It was a money move.
It wasn't like that's one group of and according to

the rest of the the rest of the year, like
the colonists coming from from Britain, like the pears Is
were weirdos, Like yeah, like y'all are y'all are religious weirdos?
Like we are here trying to get this bread.

Speaker 2 (15:01):
You know, it's a fight.

Speaker 4 (15:03):
Yeah, yeah, it's like you said.

Speaker 3 (15:05):
Virginia was like yeah, no, We're like we try to
get this bread, like that's what we're here for.

Speaker 1 (15:10):
Yeah, yeah, And that's what Dicky Lee is there for, right,
And he does pretty well in this position. He's able
to buy up huge tracts of land, which he works
with enslaved people. By his death in sixteen sixty four,
he presided over an empire for about sixteen thousand acres
in the northern Neck of Virginia. And this Lee is
the very first in his family line to serve during

a civil war, right, this is the English Civil War.
This is Cromwell versus the cavaliers. I think they're known
as right and obviously Cromwell wins. Unfortunately, one of we'll
be doing him. He's one of the very worst people
who ever lived. And kind of how this Lee makes
his name very differently from the last Roberty Lee, right,
who picks a side right away. This Lee's job, his

influence over the colonists, is to stop them from picking
a side until it's over. Basically, just like fucking we're
sitting there, we are about making money. We don't need
to get picking a sign we're not going to help
us and tell and then as soon as it becomes
clear Cromwell's winning, he's basically like, yeah, we thought you
were you were the tits this whole time, bro, congrats,
you know. And in return Cromwell didn't kill everybody, which

was his his general move right. So when the war ends,
Lee had to like he had acquired this land during
the English Civil War, but like he hadn't been able
to actually like lock it in as a legal purchase
because you couldn't do that while the war was going on.
So after the war, he and his descendants, in order
to basically lock in their inheritance have to make friends,

make themselves into the patsies of the most powerful man
in the area or powerful family in the area, the Fairfaxes.
And they basically do this by becoming their tax collectors.

Speaker 4 (16:43):
Right. That's the Lees.

Speaker 1 (16:44):
Are like musclemen for the biggest guy in the Virginia
planter aristocracy.

Speaker 2 (16:49):

Speaker 1 (16:49):
Yeah, and you know that they become in the generations
after Dickie Lee, they become like one of the biggest
families in terms of like wealth in the area. There
are about seven thousand tax paying white citizens in the neck.
That means men, right, we're saying men, there's more white
people than that. By the late seventeen hundreds, and basically
none of them owned significant land. Only one percent had

more than three hundred acres. So the Lees are part
of that one percent. Like most yeah, very rich, and
like most generationally wealthy families, the Lees are kind of
full of themselves.

Speaker 4 (17:24):
You can see some.

Speaker 1 (17:24):
Of this from the fact that our Robert's grandfather, his
thirty five hundred acre estate is named Lee's Sylvania.

Speaker 4 (17:31):
Oh they love there's a good bit.

Speaker 1 (17:34):
Actually there's seriously, that's like the lamest thing I've ever heard. Yeah,
my god, there's that movie, that musical seventeen seventy six.
I haven't watched it since I was a kid, but
it stars it stars mister Feene from a.

Speaker 4 (17:47):
World to My high teacher made us watch it.

Speaker 1 (17:49):
Yep, ye one of the I'm sure that movie's got
some problematic things, but one thing it does get accurate
is it it portrays Robert E. Lee's dad in this
and he's like naming everything after he has a whole
song where like everything is Lee, and that does seem
to be the family's thing, right, It's like we are
obsessed with ourselves.

Speaker 2 (18:09):
That's hilarious.

Speaker 1 (18:10):
Yeah, now that said Robert's father, who's going to be
Henry Lee is not. He's again kind of like their
first ancestor in the Americas. He's not one of the
wealthy Lees. Like his family is wealthy, but he's not
going to get a bunch of money on his own
because of I think just his position, Like he doesn't
get you can tell this. He doesn't get sent to
England to be educated like his cousins in Stratford. The

Stratford Les send their kids to England to be educated,
but Robert E. Lee's dad doesn't get that.

Speaker 2 (18:38):
So yeah, we're.

Speaker 3 (18:39):
Clearly we're talking like patrilineal, we're talking dad side of
the family.

Speaker 4 (18:43):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (18:44):
So it's again, he's wealthy for normal people's standards, but
from the standards of the aristocracy, Robert E. Lee's dad
on his own isn't going to get the big payday
right now. The Lees put a lot of stock in
being farmers. That is how they identify and it is
important to note that when rich white people in this
period talk about being farmers, they are not doing any
real far out right no, absolutely not. And one of

the major sources for this episode is an excellent biography
of Lee by Alan Guelzo, And I'm going to read
a quote from that now talking about the degree to
which these people were farmers, and it's talking about Lee's
family and his cousins. The Lees, Taylo's, and Carters never
owned fewer than fifty slaves each across the decades of
the eighteenth century. While Robert Carter owned three hundred and
forty five slaves, John Taylo won seventy three, and George

Turberville sixty eight. Thomas Lee had, at varying times, owned
between sixty and one hundred slaves at Stratford and his
late ast seventeen eighty two. Eighty three slaves worked for
Thomas Lee's successors there, but these grandees were not necessarily
prospering on their land. Although Virginians had made early fortunes
in the seventeenth century through tobacco, the demand for Indian
weed declined throughout the eighteenth century, as had the nutrients

in the soil of the Neck that supported it. Few
people in England Como played Richard Henry Lee in the
seventeen sixties, understood how much labor is required out on
the Virginian estate and how pole the produce. Interestingly, the
great plantations turned to growing wheat fodder and pork for
export to the West Indies, where they could be fed
to the slave and animal populations of the sugar islands,
whose vastly wealthier owners declined to waste arable sugar lands

on growing food. So that is what that is what
the Lee family farming goes towards, is to feed slave
plantations growing sugar cheaply, right, that is that is where
their family money comes from.

Speaker 4 (20:28):
Yeah, So like I.

Speaker 3 (20:29):
Did a quick little Google starts going and make sure
I got the numbers right. Yeah, like just to understand
like the economy of the time. I feel like, you know,
with anything, the further away from us, like timeline wise,
the more like Narnia it becomes to us like we
don't really understand like one, how recent it was, into
like the connections of it. So like you just say,

somebody had three hundred and eighty five slaves, like and
a slave at the time to purchase a slave was
about like one hundred and fifty hundred and sixty dollars,
and if you adjust that to like inflation, like you
could it could be like like three two hundred dollars
a person like that to purchase you know, and obviously

you're not paying for the labor, but to have so
to have a workforce of three hundred people want to
have the land acreage to even if you're putting them
in slave shacks, you stuf to house them, they're still
in a slave shack. Yeah, and they're still functioning on
your land like it is a It is a lot

of money, and you're generating a lot of wealth.

Speaker 2 (21:42):
And like you.

Speaker 3 (21:43):
Said, it's like for for any of their lifestyle to exist,
which I'm fast forwarding but like to get to the
lost costs shit, but like all of the whole Southern
gentlemen Southern gentail shit, clearly means they're not working, like
you know what I'm saying, And your whole lifestyle only
works if you got enough money to support this type

of labor, to do the labor that generates the money
to live the lifestyle you live. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (22:12):
And I also I also want to note something, which
is that like you talk about like it's cost about
like thirty five hundred bucks apiece something like that for
each of these enslaved people, even that kind of understates
how expensive this isn't how rare it is, right, because
not just like that makes it seem like, well, a
middle class person might be able to have like slaves

working their land, which wasn't really the case often because
like most people just don't have money. People are going
to have a whiskey rebellion right after the US is independent,
And it's part of the whisky rebellion is that like
whiskey is currency because people just don't have money, you know,
like we're poor White people do not actually have money
in this period. Yeah, so like the people who have

slaves are so far above the norm.

Speaker 3 (22:56):
Yeah, because like you said, like there isn't like this
is pre industrial revolution, Like there's no you don't go
to the office to work and you get a paycheck. No,
you grow your food right and you take care of
your family and you hopefully chop down some timber and
sell it at the corner. But there's no jobs for
you to be able, like you said, to have a

middle class thing, like I'll just save up one hundred
and sixty, I'll save up three k. It take like
two months. Yeah, no, you have to have a job
for that, like there is no jobs.

Speaker 4 (23:25):
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (23:27):
And now and again we also state like these people
are rich, but rich means a different thing. Because most
of them are really bad at running these plantations, especially
after a couple of generations. So they're rich in land
enrich in the number of enslaved people they have, but
they are also generally cash poor. Part of keeping up
socially in the culture of rich plantation owners is going

horribly into debt. And this is a holdover. This is
something they inherit from the English aristocracy.

Speaker 4 (23:52):

Speaker 1 (23:53):
You can't get be given money as an aristocrat, that's dishonorable.
But you can take loans often from other aristocrats and
the like. And this is what all of these big families,
including the Leaves, would do to maintain these big, palatial,
beautiful manners that are such a part of this imagined
like southern heritage. All of this is taken on with debt. Right,
this is like such a thing. There's this Anglican parson,

Jonathan Boucher, who lives in the Neck for a while
and preaches there, and he later said of his time there,
I can hardly remember a time when I did not
owe sums larger than my credit might seem worth. All
I have to offer and vindication of it is that
determined as always to raise myself in the world. I
had not the patience to wait for the slow savings
of a humble station, and I fancied I could get
into a hire only by being taken notice of by

people of condition, which was not to be done without
my making a certain appearance.

Speaker 4 (24:43):
So all of these.

Speaker 1 (24:43):
People, no matter how wealthy they are on paper, most
of them are like desperately in debt. And they're in
debt purely because they're trying to keep up with each other.
They're trying to like it's all about image. Like the
degree to which this is shallow and irresponsible and always
based on a house of cars words is not discussed
enough when we talk about the self exactly.

Speaker 3 (25:04):
Yeah, yeah, that that and that and that legacy of like,
so let's take our favorite person, Elon if he gets Yeah,
this guy gets a contract from NASA to be like, hey,
we want to build want you to build our next
four spaceships, and it's like okay, dope, Uh, it's gonna
cost me seven billion dollars to build these ships. He

doesn't just go to the bank and swipe his card
like he he doesn't have seven billion dollars. He goes
to someone else and says, hey, I got this po
I got this purchase order for these things, and I'm
gonna make this much money. Will you give me the money.

Speaker 2 (25:45):
To make this?

Speaker 3 (25:46):
But he ain't got it. Like I can't stress this enough.
They don't have the money.

Speaker 4 (25:52):
Yeah, no, I it's it's important to note that. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (25:56):
So this is all going to be important also for
just understanding what happens to rob its father and how
it influences the man he's going to become. And Robert E.
Lee's daddy was Richard Henry Lee the third. He graduates
from law school in seventeen seventy three, but as you
can guess from the time, he's kind of diverted from
serving as a lawyer by the outbreak of what will
become the American Revolution. Henry is a hot headed young man, and,

like his ancestor, insecure about being born without the expectation
of a great inheritance. He saw in war with England
an opportunity to make himself into a great man, like
his ancestor had done after the Norman Conquest. Hey, everybody,
Robert here, quick correction. I misidentified in the original edit
of this Richard Henry Lee as Robert E. Lee's father.

Henry Lee the third was Roberty Lee's father. Sorry, that
was something I flagged during editing and then forgot to
tell to the editor, So this one's all on me anyway.

Speaker 4 (26:49):
Robert E.

Speaker 1 (26:49):
Lee's dad was Henry Lee the third, and to his credit,
Richard Henry Lee is not just talk. He joins the army.
He becomes a captain in the dragoons, which is like
a mountain infantryman, and is an excellent soldier. That is
one thing you have to give the man. The LEAs
are all as foot soldiers, as grunts. Really, even Robert E.
Lee is a really good, like lower level officer. Like

when we talk about him being incompetent, it's as a
commanding general. But like, they are all good at normal
soldierly jobs. And Henry shows his skill particularly as a scout.
He is a small unit commander. He's basically an early
Special Forces guy. Right, He's leading these yeah yeah, his
dad yeah, okay, yeah. He's leading these small units of scouts,

often doing ambushes and the like on small British units
supply depots. And he kind of gets a reputation for
this almost suicidal disregard for his own safety. He earns
the attention of George Washington after he takes a ten
man unit out and there they are ambushed by two
hundred British cavalry and somehow fight off the ambush. Yeah,

he's good at he's good at fighting, right, and Washington
is kind of like, well, shit, this guy needs to
be in myanner's circle. Henry Lee earns the nickname Lighthorse Harry,
and in seventeen seventy nine he achieves one of his
greatest successes, marching a small unit of men thirty miles
in the driving rain to attack a much larger British garrison.
Armed only with bayonets, they secure the element of surprise

and take one hundred and fifty eight men prisoners. Congress
minted him a special Gold Medal. This is an extremely
rare decoration for the period. There's like seven of them
given during the war. And then he sent South to
fight alongside Nathaniel Green and he basically his unit is
like the eyes of the Southern Revolutionary Army. Right, the
Southern colonies had been occupied by British forces in Green

and Lee carried out a successful campaign to retake them.
Lighthorse Harry played a crucial role here cutting off supply lines,
raiding depots, and forward bases. Now, he's a good soldier,
but he is not a good person. He is not
overly concerned with the niceties of wartime ethics. From an
article in the Gettysburg Compiler quote. During the war, he
was known for his brutal tactics. In seventeen seventy eight,

he assisted General Anthony Wayne in capturing a fort at
Stony Point, New York, where he caught three deserters, one
of which he ordered to be hanged and decapitated. He
then sent the deserters decapitated head to Washington. He also
interrogated a loyalist prisoner in North Carolina by pressing a
red hot shovel to his feet to get information out
of him. So this guy kills people. He puts heads

on on like pikes and shit, he's torturing prisoners. He's
not a nice man. Dude's aged with yes, yes today.
So despite these war crimes, Lee ends the war as
one of the USA's first great military heroes. On the
strength of this, He's elected to the Continental Congress in
seventeen eighty five, and he partakes in Virginia's Constitutional Convention

in seventeen eighty seven, where he plays a crucial role
in talking his neighbors in Virginia into ratifying the constitution.

Speaker 4 (29:50):
He becomes governor.

Speaker 3 (29:52):
I think it's a good thing to stop. And you
said he became governor. Yes, you said, the guy that
like decapitated.

Speaker 4 (29:57):
Yeah, oh he loves he loves that shit.

Speaker 3 (29:59):
Yeah, and then sent heads in a bag was a
part of the constitutional convintion.

Speaker 4 (30:04):
Oh yeah, governor, Like, yeah, the.

Speaker 3 (30:06):
Old baghead, old old baghead, right, I like you better
put him on there, because you don't want to piss
him off.

Speaker 1 (30:15):
You know, who doesn't cut the heads off of prisoners
and stick them on pikes? Oh?

Speaker 2 (30:20):
Man, I mean I so do hope that.

Speaker 1 (30:22):
Yeah, I hope our sponsors don't do that, although if
they do, maybe they maybe those prisoners had it coming,
you know, you know, if they do, I just want them.
If they do, I just want you to know that
we had politics. Love everything, y'all.

Speaker 3 (30:34):

Speaker 2 (30:35):
We believe in everything you do.

Speaker 1 (30:36):
Yeah, yeah, great, this is good.

Speaker 4 (30:45):
And we're back.

Speaker 1 (30:47):
So that's a pretty full resume for Lighthorse Harry. But
we're just actually getting started on this guy. Because after
the war ends, his life veers very quickly from like
military hero to hilarious failure. And this is because he's
one of these guys. You get these not uncommonly that
are like they're great in war, they're really good soldiers

at least in terms of their effectiveness in combat, but
outside of war, they just are completely useless. Now, there
were always some signs of the man's weaknesses. Obviously he
took too many risks. He actually that big raid he
carried out that he won an award for he got
court martialed for it too, because some people in his
command were like, yeah, it worked, but he risked a

bunch of men's lives on what shouldn't have worked, Like
this was we shouldn't We should not award people for
being this reckless. In seventeen eighty two, Lee resigns his
commission in the Continental Army because he's angry that he's unappreciated.
And again, this man got a gold medal awarded to
seven dudes total in the entire war that they made
he custom made gold medal. He's not really unappreciated. I

think what it is reading between the lines, he's frustrated
that he's not George Washington like he loves Washington. They're
close buddies, and like Washington's his patron kind of you
get the feeling he's like, why does Washington get to
be the father of the country and not me?

Speaker 4 (32:04):
I was a really good soldier, y'all? Yeah, exactly, shit man,
And you get teeth.

Speaker 1 (32:10):
Yeah, I think this insecurity, this is going to drive
the Washington insecurity is going to drive Roberty Lee iseth No,
you are no.

Speaker 4 (32:19):
They sure weren't, no c.

Speaker 1 (32:22):
But this insecurity is going to drive Henry Lee as well.
So Washington, for his part, consideredly a reliable officer and
had an opportunity to make him feel appreciated and also
betray the spirit of the revolution. At the same time,
in seventeen ninety four, a bunch of Pennsylvania farmers started
protesting against attacks on whiskey, which was their primary form

of currency, despite the fact that their grievances absolutely mirrored
the ones that had sparked the revolution. Washington, now that
he's in charge of a country, sends the army in
to crack down this is the Whiskey rebellion, and Henry
Lee is the guy who's going to command that army. Now, well,
actual rebellion itself had a few clashes and a small
number of deaths. Harry's not involved in that. By the

time he gets there with the army, he's basically there
to swing the nation's newly tombescent dick around until everybody
goes home. You know, he scares them with an army.

Speaker 3 (33:15):

Speaker 1 (33:15):
That is the end of his military career. And now
that he had earned a position of what he saw
would be everlasting respect and fame in the heart of
the new nation, he sat down to accomplish the true
goal of any ambitious man, making a bunch of fucking money. Now,
unfortunately he's terrible at this. He knows nothing of farming,
he knows nothing of business, so his attempts to get
rich to evolve into a series of incompetent get rich

quick schemes. These seem to have been inspired in part
by the advice of George Washington. In letters, Washington warned
Henry that investments in such hazardous and perishable articles as negroes, stock,
and chattels were prone to be swept off by innumerable disasters. Thus,
an enterprising man with very little money should invest in
the rich backlands in the new settlements and wait patiently

for them to appreciate. So that's yeah, pretty bad. Yeah,
don't buy Washington.

Speaker 2 (34:07):
Yeah, don't buyo slaves man. It's gonna go out of style.

Speaker 3 (34:10):
Man, it's just too much work homeie like shy they died, bro,
It's like, yeah, gold rush like millionaires word as shovel salesman,
like like you know, you got you gotta think a little.
You know what I'm saying, You're going to be out
here pan for gold? Well, they got to use pans,
So why don't you sell them to pans?

Speaker 4 (34:26):
Yeah? Damn.

Speaker 1 (34:27):
And that is we see it between Henry and George Washington.
We see the difference between a smart bad man and
a dumb badman.

Speaker 4 (34:33):
Yes, right, George Washington is a smart bad man.

Speaker 1 (34:35):
He's good in making money like Henry Lee is a
dumb bad man, and he is. He tries to follow
this advice, but he is dog shit at picking real estate,
and rather than slow sober investments, he approached his finances
the same way he approached war, with a series of
risky gambles. Here's the Gettysburg compiler. One of these schemes
was to build a canal in Great Falls, Virginia, that

would link the United States to western Lands on the
other side of the Alleghenies. He bought five hundred acres
around Great Falls that he hoped would make into a
city named Matildaville, named after his first wife and second cousin,
Matilda Lee, who died in seventeen ninety. Neither the city
nor the canal came to fruition. He tried to get
out of debt by borrowing more money and buying more land,
but he only ended up digging himself deeper. He started

selling property he did not even own, and he put
up chains on the door of his house to keep
creditors out. He became very mobile in the early years
of the eighteen hundreds, hardly staying at home in order
to keep from paying his debts.

Speaker 3 (35:29):
He is.

Speaker 2 (35:32):

Speaker 4 (35:33):
He is such a redneck.

Speaker 1 (35:34):
Like, first off, marrying your second cousin and t a
town after her, like yeah, hiding from bill collectors.

Speaker 3 (35:43):
Don't answer the phone, Yeah, don't answer it a do
don't answer the phone as day'd look, they don't get
they money? I get it on to dig Yeah, get
tea next Tuesday. And this was Auntie look as a Southerner.
I'm not proud of this heritage, but this is definitely
our heritage from.

Speaker 1 (36:02):
The bill collectors selling things you don't really own. Yeah, that.

Speaker 4 (36:10):

Speaker 3 (36:11):
Yes, I was like, okay, wait, of all the things
you said, I'm like, yeah, that's the really shit.

Speaker 2 (36:16):
Yeah, as it tells you're weird though, but that's real.

Speaker 1 (36:19):
As a as a child who grew up on a
farm in Oklahoma that I knew like forty of those guys.

Speaker 3 (36:24):
Listen, let me tell you some all my friends in
elementary school have bad credit because the electric bill was in.

Speaker 2 (36:31):
Our name because they just you know, Mama put it,
put the gas bill in the old name.

Speaker 3 (36:38):
And this because we just try to like, look that
they won't give me no more powers.

Speaker 4 (36:42):
So yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (36:45):
Uh So, despite owning on papers somewhere around a million
acres at the height of his investments, which is an
enormous that's bigger than multiple countries today, Henry Lee never
realized any return on his investments. The Townsend canals speculated
on never came to pass, and his creditors came calling
long before he could flip them. Twenty years down the line,

as Washington had advised his first wife, Matilda died midway
through his long road to going broke. He'd already sold
off most of her inheritance a plantation in Stratford to
pay off his own debts. Showing a surprising degree of fortitude.
While she was dying, Matilda signed a trust with two
of her cousins as executive executors, so the remainder of
her inherited property would pass on to her sons with

Henry when they.

Speaker 4 (37:28):
Were old enough.

Speaker 1 (37:29):
She was basically her last act was like, my husband
cannot get what's left of my property, he will just
waste it, being a dipshit smart that is smart, right, Yes,
this does put Henry in a desperate state, though his
bills were come due and legally there was no one
he could pressure to sell her properties. So he remarried.
That's how he decides to get out of debt. He

marries somebody rich. Right here, here's a week, gon'll do.

Speaker 2 (37:56):
Okay, let's depress up a little bit.

Speaker 3 (38:01):
Okay, maybe so off with you to my heads got
chopped off, and uh does find us a new Dane.

Speaker 1 (38:08):
Yeah, what a what a respectable honorable man?

Speaker 4 (38:12):
So Leah, what a real one.

Speaker 1 (38:15):
Yeah, you simply have to give the man credit.

Speaker 4 (38:19):
You looked up. Yeah, so yeah.

Speaker 1 (38:22):
Lee remarries, using his cachet as a war hero to
win the hand of Anne Hill Carter. The Carters are
a wealthy planter family, and Anne's father tried to protect
her from Henry's or from Harry's well both. This is
fine profligacy by putting her inheritance into the equivalent of
a trust and I'm gonna quote from Robert E. Lee
a life here, a trust fund that was to remain

securely in Anne's name, free from the claim demand, hindrance
or molestation of her husband, General Henry Lee, or his creditors.
Ann soon learned how well founded her father's reservations about
Harry Lee were. In the short space of a fortnite
recalled her cousin Mariah Farley. She awoke to a life
of misery, as every loose Carter penny she could beg
from her family was soon thrown away upon his debts

contracted previous to marriage. By seventeen ninety seven, Henry's legal
or financial situation was beyond repair, and he would spend
the next few years juggling debts and loans. But he
eventually loses the ability to keep up entirely, and he
goes on the run, hiding from his creditors. It's during
this period of Henry's life when he is a broken,
failed shadow of himself, that his third son comes into

the world. Robert Edward Lee that's our boy, that's our well,
that's that's our subject.

Speaker 4 (39:33):
That the subject.

Speaker 3 (39:34):
Yeah, man, yeah like that that origin sounds like I mean,
he's like, better call Saul.

Speaker 4 (39:41):
He's such a piece of shit. It's so such a yeah, I.

Speaker 3 (39:47):
Like looking for sugar Mama, Like yeah, like ed and
the sugar MoMA's daddy was like, uh, this nigga like this,
Y'll do yes and body Lee is like a goodie.

Speaker 1 (40:00):
He's a good ee two shoes within an evil society.
So he's still doing bad stuff, but he has a
goody two shoes. When I found out about what a
piece of shit his dad was like, oh thank god.
We really needed something fun to lead into this way.

Speaker 3 (40:10):
Yeah, we really did, because yeah, this is like this
history I had no idea about, and yeah I am.

Speaker 2 (40:17):
It fills me with so much joy.

Speaker 3 (40:20):
To just just how just how ain't shit that man was?

Speaker 4 (40:26):
Yeah, it's it's funny.

Speaker 1 (40:27):
There's a Christmas movie that my mom always had us
watch that. Actually, I mean it's got some great stuff.
It's got Bing Crosby and what's Danny Kay and at
White Christmas And there's a line in there. The plot
is these guys were all in a unit together in
World War Two and then they become famous entertainers. They
meet their their old commanding general and he's like sunk
all of his money into this resort in Vermont that

like is hemorrhaging money. And one of like one of
his his like workers compares him to light Horse Harry.
But so he's like light Horse Harry, but he's like
charging off into debt.

Speaker 4 (40:59):
And I didn't really I.

Speaker 1 (41:00):
Was like, oh, that was just a reference to the
fact that Lighthorse Harry was a piece of shit who
was like wasted all of his money on bad investments.
Good on you, White Christmas with the historical accuracy.

Speaker 2 (41:12):
Dagger in there for you to go google later.

Speaker 1 (41:14):
Funny funny so man Robert Edward Lee was born January nineteenth,
eighteen oh seven, at Stratford Hall Plantation. The year after
Robert was born, Henry went to Debtor's prison for a year. Right, so,
Gunny Lee is one years old when his dad goes
to debtors prison, you better have my money today, And

it's basically he was he was tired of being on
the run and hiding. So he's like, look, if you
put me in prison for a year, can I get
out of some of these debts and is left to
look after Henry's two sons from his first marriage and
the five children he'd left her with.

Speaker 3 (41:51):
Okay, so you're you're.

Speaker 1 (41:55):
I'm a big I'm a big separate checking accounts guy.
You know, Like I said, best to keep that out
of the.

Speaker 3 (42:01):
Last I've made fourteen years. She got her own account.
I got her own account, We got account the bills
come from. Don't buy argue over it what she's when
she if she if seventy two Amazon packages come to
my door, that wouldn't not If that's her account, she
buy whatever she want. Not I judge her from buying
an Amazon you know what I'm saying. But the point
is you don't say it her money.

Speaker 2 (42:22):
I was waiting for the shade. I saw it in
her eyes.

Speaker 4 (42:25):
She saw it in my eyes.

Speaker 3 (42:26):
Yeah, I'm like, I don't know why you keep ordering
from that evil corporation, And she says, shut your whole ass,
because my wife's a gangster.

Speaker 1 (42:35):
So Bobby Lee eighteen oh seven, Stratford, Hell Plantation. Yeah,
and so you know, not long after Henry gets out
of prison, his oldest son from the first marriage that
he'd had to Matilda comes into his inheritance the property
they're living on Stratford, and the way Gwelser depicts it,
Henry's new wife is kind of Mary is uncomfortable living

under a roof that's not hers. So they put the
family financials into kind of order right to where they're
not completely drowning. They sell off a bunch of stuff,
and then they moved to Alexandria. This is done out
of a degree of desperation. The family no longer has
a plantation house, nor could they afford one. They had
also lost most of their enslaved people. During their last

days at Stratford, they probably had around thirty human beings
enslaved attending to their needs. By the time they moved
to Alexandria, they had sold all but six, three of
whom they hired out to make money to pay Harry's debts. So, which,
by the way, super f like, that's who's actually trying
to like, make up for his horrible financial decisions is
the people that they own. Not an uncommon situation with

the landed gentry. Here now, Harry blames his financial situation
on Thomas Jefferson, and in doing so, became the first
great American hero to blame the Democratic Party for his
own fuck ups.

Speaker 2 (43:52):
Yeah yeah, wait, you got to connect that dot for me?

Speaker 3 (43:55):
Yeah, I was like, did he know the guy like, wait,
connect is nothing?

Speaker 4 (43:59):
I mean I think they did.

Speaker 1 (44:00):
But his argument is, basically, their financial policies are why
none of my investments worked out. No, that's not the case,
lighthorse area, you piece of shit fucking Demorats. Yeah, he
called the Democrats that party which has consummated the ruin
of the most glorious republic the sun ever shown on.
And now it's obvious that the move to Alexandria was

a source of shame for Henry and probably the other
men in his family. Yet Robert's not actually written by him.
Memoir brushes over this entirely, saying, in eighteen eleven, Henry
Lee moved with his family to Alexandria for the purpose
of educating his children. There's nothing Henry Lee was less
interested than educating his kids. He was barely there, hiding

from debt collectors.

Speaker 2 (44:43):
Putting a buying a horse in Robert's name. Yeah is
this guy? Hey? This says the guy signing this doesn't
know his avc's yet.

Speaker 4 (44:51):
Yeah, and you get the feeling. This.

Speaker 1 (44:54):
The fact that they have to move away from a
plantation to live in the city is a source of
enduring shame for the Lee family. I found a biography
written in the eighteen nineties by Fitzhugh Lee, one of
Robert's descendants, that says, this is all it says about
the move. Robert was four years old when his father
removed the family to Alexandria. Why did they do that?
Was it deep financial failure?

Speaker 4 (45:16):
In shame? Yeah?

Speaker 1 (45:18):
Cool stuff. So Harry's next and last attempt to get
rich was to publish a memoir, one he actually wrote
while in jail. He hoped it would be a huge
hit and like restore the family finances and it was
widely read. But Henry learned a lesson that every writer
eventually learns, which is that there's very little money in books.

Speaker 4 (45:37):
You are not George R. R. Martin bro It's not
gonna work.

Speaker 3 (45:41):
You got You better get your advance and get out
because that's all you go seek. Yeah, relatable, Yes, he's
got man, I'm telling you man, this guy's like his
seesaw is balancing alchemy.

Speaker 2 (45:53):
That's because that's real. That's real too.

Speaker 4 (45:57):
You know what else is real?

Speaker 3 (45:59):
Yes, I do.

Speaker 1 (46:00):
The products and services that support this podcast all real.
None of them are a money laundering scheme for the
Sinaloa cartel. That's not what sponsors this podcast, you know,
So don't think about it too much. We're back. So

the Lieze are now in Alexandria. They wind up renting
for a while this like two bedroom apartment basically, which
is that's not great for a family of the landed aristocracy, right.

Speaker 3 (46:33):
You had descended to somebody that like fought with the
norms and now an apartment.

Speaker 1 (46:37):
There's an apartment. Now they move pretty quickly into a
large house that's owned by some of Anne's relatives, which
is why they're able to afford it white right, because
they are broke. This is not an uncomfortable situation. Again,
they're still doing better than ninety nine percent of people.
But for Henry it's intolerable. During the War of eighteen twelve,
which he opposed, he took a job providing secure for

a federalist newspaper. This was more dangerous than it sounds,
because the Jeffersonians, who he'd roundly criticized in his book,
regularly attacked the editors. This blew up in late July
eighteen twelve after a series of attacks on the paper.
Lee recommended surrendering and letting a local militia protect them
in jail. This proved bad advice, as the mob just

burst through the jail, killed one of Henry's colleagues and
slashed him.

Speaker 4 (47:23):
With a sword. They tried to blind him by uring
hot candle wax in his eyes.

Speaker 1 (47:30):

Speaker 3 (47:30):
Yeah, your yeah, listen, dude, Like it's important to remember. Okay,
it's it as ill timed as this might sound. Like,
you know, we are collectively, as a species vastly less
violent than we were.

Speaker 4 (47:52):
Yeah, like led yeah.

Speaker 2 (47:54):
Yeah, Like, don't get me wrong.

Speaker 3 (47:56):
Violence has not been eradicate wayne fully evolved, yet obviously
points wildly across the whole spectrum of our world.

Speaker 2 (48:03):
Right now. However, they just sliced a man with a machete.

Speaker 3 (48:08):
And airport hot like we.

Speaker 1 (48:11):
Were a violent, violent man trying to blind him with
hot candle wax. That's creative, bad dog, Yeah, and it's funny.
Like his writing about this, he describes himself as so
covered in bruises that he looks like a black man, right,
Like that's how Henry Lee describes his injuries, which does

nicely evaporate my sympathy for him.

Speaker 4 (48:34):
So there you go, so.

Speaker 2 (48:36):
Like he's balancing like probably never mind.

Speaker 1 (48:40):
I've never known a guy before who I thought like, yeah,
maybe he should have been blinded by candle wax. But
maybe he should have been blinded by candlews.

Speaker 2 (48:47):

Speaker 1 (48:48):
So Robert E. Lee was four again when the family
moves to Alexandria, and he's six when his father gets
injured by that mob. After getting injured, Henry makes the
decision to abandon his family and move to the West Indies.
He's hoping, basically, he describes as like I'm hoping that
if I move to the West Indies, I'll recover him
from my injuries, which like, bro, I don't know how

going to the tropics is going to help you with
getting stabbed.

Speaker 4 (49:12):
I'm not.

Speaker 2 (49:15):
Too cold out here. Let's just go down to where
the weather is nice.

Speaker 4 (49:18):
That doesn't and it's fine, it.

Speaker 1 (49:22):
Says a lot about medicine of the day. That like
a doctor's like, yeah, that stab wound will get better
if you move to the tropics.

Speaker 4 (49:28):
That seems like the solution.

Speaker 3 (49:29):
Listen, listen, hear me out, sun, humidity, coconuts.

Speaker 1 (49:35):
Yeah, it does not work. He wanders around for five
years mooching off of some friends from the war until
he dies horribly when Robert E.

Speaker 4 (49:44):
Lee is just eleven.

Speaker 1 (49:46):
Now he's gonna get buried back at home. Lee will
not visit his grave until he's a middle aged man,
which should tell you something about like the degree of
esteem in which he holds his father.

Speaker 4 (49:56):
What he say? Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1 (49:59):
Given all this, it probably will not surprise you to
learn that the future famous General Lee is a mama's boy.
As fitz you Lee wrote, if he was early trained
in the way he should go, his mother trained him.
If he was always good, as his father wrote, she
labored to keep him. So Lee's own memoirs say just
this about his childhood. Person's are yet living who remember

Robert Lee in those days of childhood, and who have
an abiding recollection of his thoughtfulness of character, and of
his earnestness and the performance of every duty. So that
is what you'll find from basically everybody. He is a
really dutiful kid. He's very serious. He doesn't really have
a childhood, right.

Speaker 3 (50:38):
Yeah, and this I have found that for like yeah,
and it's probably true in like a lot of our lives,
Like when you're when your parents are like absolute messes
and just chaos, like for you to just have a
stable psyche, yeah, you you the children are usually square, yeah,
because just like there's no there's no stability, so you

have to like create your own stability by being as
just square as possible, you know.

Speaker 1 (51:05):
Because when I when I started getting into this, one
thing that struck me as weird. Lee is a very
well documented man. For one thing, he grew up in
a time when people were taking documentation. There's tons of
letters from all of his family because there's social class,
there's a lot of people who knew him and who
talked about him, and there's almost no anecdotes about him
as a kid. And usually when that's the case, it's

because of something being covered up, But in this case.

Speaker 4 (51:30):
I think there's just he's he's he is the head.

Speaker 1 (51:32):
Of the family from the time he's eleven. His job
is managing the family. Businesses, being the man of the house.
I don't think he has time to be anything but
just like a little basically cleaning up his dad's mess, right,
that's his job starting at age eleven.

Speaker 3 (51:47):
When I was, when I was, when I was teaching,
it sounds like I mean, obviously it's not the same.
But when I was teaching, Uh, there was there was
this kid that used to like I mean, I taught
freshman and like he was if he didn't if he
didn't drive a Cadillact to school at thirteen or fourteen
years old, just driving, you know, he would be on

his bike. He'd show up like ten fifteen minutes late
all the time, street dude, but like always had his work,
super respectful. Hey miss petty, what I miss? Here's my homework,
just like and I could not, for the life of
me figure out like why this little hood dude was
so mature and number one, like why are you driving
a Cadillac at fourteen years old? Right?

Speaker 2 (52:29):
And yeah he was like pop was alcoholic.

Speaker 3 (52:32):
He had to learn how to drive to go pick
up his dad every night, you know, so he drove
him home from like the bar, had to drop his
little brother off at school. You know, before he got
to school and he just had to be an adult already.
So I'm like, but also live but he was just
a hood kid. So he was like like it wasn't like,
you know, like don't fuck with him, Like he went

the shits, But like eventually I just stopped marking him
tardy because I'm like, well, you're.

Speaker 4 (52:58):
You're adult, k You're doing stuff and you're doing.

Speaker 1 (53:01):
Like you're adulting, bro, Like you're good, you know, And
that that is Robert E. Lee in a nutshell. His
family's not like what we would call poor, right, they're
poor for rich people, but he is. He is the
man of the house and in addition to like needing
to fix his disastrous financial situation help his siblings, his
mom is sick the whole time that he's he's a kid,
so he is also he's also here live in nurse

you know, and that's how he spends his childhood.

Speaker 4 (53:25):
Most of what he will get, yeah, he.

Speaker 1 (53:28):
I mean, at this point, he's a kid, right, He's
not able to choose to He hasn't like, he hasn't
done anything bad at this stage. He's a child, and
most of what you get from his friends and family
is a mix of a lie. They will talk constantly
about how handsome he is, right, which everybody does, so
I assume he actually was good looking, you know, for
the time. But they also would say he's like weirdly

weighed down with duty for a boy so young. Everyone
knows like it's peculiar how serious and dutiful he is,
and he's got, you know, a demanding childhood. He would
later describe himself in this period as by mother's outdoor
agent and confidential messenger. Now one of the very rare
anecdotes we do get of him as a child comes
from that memoir quote, the boy chance, during a vacation

to find himself an invited guest in a house where
these undesirable customs I think they're talking about alcoholism were
kept up. The host was a fascinating gentleman, possessed of
all graces of mind and manner, yet while not dissipated,
his mode of life was such as a shock to
the sternersons of morality of his youthful visitor. Robert made
no comment on what he saw, but his unspoken rebuke
proved more efficacious than any words of reproach could have done.

The night before his departure, his host came to his bedside,
and an affecting language, sought to excuse himself for the
wild life into which he had fallen. He offered his
sorrow for the loss of those dearest to him as
a reason for habits which he could not seek to defend,
And he impressively warned his young guests to beware of
similar habits, advised him to persist in his commendable course
of life, and earnestly promised that he would himself endeavor

to reform, if but to render himself worthy of the
respect and affection of so ubsteemable a care. And this
is kind of why the memoir says Lee is a
teetotaler his whole life. Right, He's probably not very much
inclined to abuse of alcohol or other narcotics because people
do have access to other narcotics.

Speaker 4 (55:12):

Speaker 1 (55:12):
Opiate abuse is not uncommon in this period. People are
using nitrous oxide in this period of time creationally, which
I like, pre Revolutionary war. People are huffing nas fascinating shit. Yeah,
and this I think this, this seems to have an
impact on him, right. He's also his mom is extremely religious.
She is Mary Lee is the kind of religious that

Christians in rural eighteen hundreds Virginia noted as being a
little much right, so she is very serious about this. Yeah,
and his other her other son, Smith Lee, recalled that
she lectured them to quote repel every evil, by which
she meant drugs and alcohol. The Lees are Episcopalian, which
is like Catholicism with a worse set designer right. Ye,

he was well educated for the day, and his mother
hired him as a two or higher, him a tutor,
telling him he'd regret it if he neglected to lay
in a store of knowledge now while he was young,
which is an odd way to look at an education,
but not necessarily a bad one, So there you go.
In eighteen twenty three, Robert announced to his family that
he wanted to attend West Point, which had become the

nation's premier military academy. His oldest brother was at Harvard
and his second oldest brother was a navy man, so
it was surprising to his family that he chose to
join the army and follow in his disgraced father's footsteps. Again,
joining the army is like doing the thing his dad did,
and that does kind of like shock his mom a
little bit because like, he does not like his dad.

But yeah, so this is the thing he decides to
do and enrolls him in a preparatory school.

Speaker 4 (56:42):
To get a you have.

Speaker 1 (56:43):
To get a west Point. Now we think about it
as like a school that teaches you how to be
like a soldier. In the general sense. It's an engineering
school in this bone time. So he has to get
a serious math grounding, right in order to be able
to compete at west Point. Now, despite the fact that
his mom puts in the effort to make sure he's
able to get this grounding, she does not want him

to go away to college. She wails, how can I
live without Robert? He has both son and daughter to me,
which says a lot about the family relationship. I think
the siblings, right, yeah, yeah, he's got a he's got
a sister, and he's got older brothers. Now, gaining admissions
to West Point would be the only time in Robert's
life when the existence of his father is a positive.

And basically, and this is actually today, west Point still
works this way, right that if you've got a family
member who went or who was a successful officer in
the military, you get their other officers and whatnot. Who
knew them to write you letters of recommendation, you know,
like that's that's how people often get into West Point today.

Speaker 3 (57:44):
Yeah, somebody in that missions office saw that boy last name,
it was.

Speaker 1 (57:46):
Like, yeah, oh shit, Oh I love the way he
cut people's heads.

Speaker 2 (57:54):
Crazy, Yeah, he'd be cool.

Speaker 4 (57:56):

Speaker 1 (57:57):
Now, obviously I actually don't think and that like this
is a agree if nepotism, But given the how much
shit his dad put him through, I don't think it's
unfair to like try to get something out of the relationship. Yeah,
but it is interesting. In his memoir, his biographers try
to pretend this didn't happen. They write the line no
one knew better than he that in a republic and

in a great wall, a man's ancestry could not help him.
But that place in promotion depended on individual merit, which like, Noah,
he does get into West Point because who his dad.
But yeah, that's that's less on him and more on
the start of the lost cause myth like he was
completely self picking.

Speaker 4 (58:35):
Well yeah, entirely, no man.

Speaker 1 (58:38):
Yeah, these people ever are and prop that's gonna be
part one for us. Again, not a lot of bastardry
on Lee's side Today Part two, a lot of bastardy
from Roberty Lee. So don't worry, We're getting into it.
This one on a lot on his dad.

Speaker 3 (58:54):
Yeah, glorious, Yeah dad, did dad sound like he does?

Speaker 2 (58:59):
Sound like you know, Chuck from down the street. Just yeah,
just messy, like.

Speaker 1 (59:07):
He is such a modern kind of scumbag. Yes, pretty funny, Yes, exactly,
it's so there. It is so modern.

Speaker 3 (59:15):
Yeah, Like he's selling you VCRs that ain't his Oh.

Speaker 1 (59:19):
My god, this man would absolutely try to sell you
steaks out of the back.

Speaker 4 (59:24):
Of a van, right, Bobby Lee, Bobby Right?

Speaker 1 (59:31):
So Jason, yeah, Pop, you got me pluggables to plugged?
Do you have a cast?

Speaker 2 (59:38):
I Do I have a podcast?

Speaker 3 (59:40):
That's uh yeah, man, that's kind of kind of gonna
be your like you're your primer for the uh the
ship show. That is like our political spectrum right now,
politics for.

Speaker 2 (59:52):
Prop Man new season.

Speaker 3 (59:54):
We got music with it and uh yeah man, it's
like this year is no shortage of incredible things to
talk about that can feel all over the place. So
we like really upped our game as far as like
research development, Like yeah, we're really really put a foot
on our gas this year with politics with Prop.

Speaker 2 (01:00:12):
So he's tapping with me.

Speaker 1 (01:00:13):
Yeah yeah, yeah, yeah, put your foot on the gas
with Prop and do uh uh. I forgot the name
of that movie where the two women drive off drive
off the cliff together, but it's like nom in Louise,
tell me and Louise, yeah, yeah, let's all do the
podcast movie.

Speaker 2 (01:00:29):
Why did you not know that?

Speaker 4 (01:00:31):
I don't remember most nicks.

Speaker 3 (01:00:34):
I would plug Terraform, but like, I'm out of money,
so there's no more coffee left, so I still got
to buy more coffee first, so like, but you could
buy like hoodies there, like I got, yeah, I got.

Speaker 4 (01:00:45):
Murder hoodies, so prop can buy coffee.

Speaker 3 (01:00:47):
You could also plug Terrorform the book oh yeah, which
came from a book yeah, terror Form, the poetry book
I forgot. Speaking of things that don't make you money,
I put together a book called Terraform Building a Livable World.

Speaker 2 (01:01:01):
I think.

Speaker 3 (01:01:03):
Sort of this is a rambling plug, but it's a
plug for our network completely. Like I think one of
the things that is unique about and I mean, if
you listen to the show, you probably already know, but like,
what's unique about our sort of collective of shows is
it's equal parts how the world is awful and also

the beauty of how it could be and people actually
trying to make it better. So it's like it's both,
you know what I'm saying. So like terror form is
that too. It's like, man, it's building a livable world.
And I think that's what like what we all share
in our network.

Speaker 1 (01:01:35):
Absolutely well, that is going to do it for us
for part one, check back in later this week where
we will have part two.

Speaker 4 (01:01:43):
Of the Bobby Lee story.

Speaker 1 (01:01:46):
So until next time. I love some crit I love
a minority of you, But if you assume you're in that,
then then maybe it'll make your day better.

Speaker 4 (01:02:01):
Behind the Bastards is a production of cool Zone Media.
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