Review of "Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?" by Charles Francis Adams

You can find the book here or hereHere is more on Mr Adams.

The essay begins by questioning whether or not England should build a statue to Oliver Cromwell.  The purpose of the essay is really to discuss whether or not the US should build a statue to Robert E. Lee.  (Please keep in mind that Mr Adams fought on the Union side against Lee).

Adams' answer is unequivocally "yes."

He goes through a long argument about how Lee was not a traitor.  For if we wish to call Lee a traitor, we would have to call Washington, Cromwell, William of Orange and Hampden traitors as well.  Lee was loyal to his state, which was where he believed his primary loyalty lay.

Then Adams tries to make a distinction between Virginia's decision to secede and other Cotton States' decisions to secede.  The latter states seceded when Lincoln won the election.  Virginia did not.  Virginia believed in secession (as did everyone who ratified the Constitution, according to Mr Adams).  Virginia was willing to let the other states peacefully secede, but did not wish to secede with them.  Only after the US government tried to re-supply Sumter, an act of war against a sovereign state (i.e. South Carolina), according to the logic of Virginia and the original understanding of the Constitution, did Virginia rebel.  According to Virginia, the North had effectively changed the Constitution at that point and Virginia seceded to defend the original Constitution.  Mr Adams understands this argument but sees it as hopeless outdated and out-of-touch.  Nevertheless, he sees it as consistent.  Lee then went with his state.

Adams then goes into a discussion of how fortunate the US was to have Grant and Lee as the men who first brokered peace and later stood by to ensure that the peace was enforced.  This is a topic that was dealt with very nicely in book-length here.  He also spends time praising Lee's character.

Adams goes on to predict that Lee will have a statue in his old home, Arlington Cemetery.  It's interesting that Mr Adams has so far, been wrong.

5 Responses to Review of "Shall Cromwell Have a Statue?" by Charles Francis Adams

  1. […] be it from me to suggest something radical, but I suggest we go to primary sources. Here is my review of a book by a Colonel in the Union Army whose family you have heard of. Our colonel […]

  2. […] The Civil War is one of the most complicated events in American history and yet if you voice any opinion that is not incredibly simplistic on the subject, you’re considered unfit for civil discussion. This state of affairs was not always the case. […]

  3. […] easiest way to understand how retarded the modern view of the Civil War is, is to read two short speeches by Charles Francis Adams. These are easy because they’re short and well-written and […]

  4. […] with Charles Francis Adams on the Civil War (especially Virginia’s place) and believes Lincoln to be responsible for so […]

  5. Borepatch says:

    A longer work by Adams which includes “Shall Cromwell Have A Statue” is “Lee At Appomattox”:

    Google may be evil, but Google Books is an unmitigated blessing.

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