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Destroying our history to save our country … doesn’t work.

The City of Dallas has declared its statue of Robert E. Lee — removed from a city park two years ago — as “surplus property” and is putting it up for sale.

To say that this is ridiculously stupid is to treat the issue with kindness and charity.

You may call Lee and the rest of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy traitors (and many under-educated Americans do), but the fact is that none of them were ever tried as traitors, and indeed, all but one of them accepted amnesty and was eventually restored to citizenship.  The same is true clear down to the soldiers in the trenches — anyone who applied for amnesty got his citizenship back.

In the end, not treating anyone but Jefferson Davis as a war criminal (and that was mostly his own fault, but a strong case can be made that Davis was mentally disturbed during at least the last year of the war, and then for the rest of his life) is what glued the country back together.

Now in our modern day, we see those who would tear the country down destroying monuments to the men who, probably more than anyone else, kept things from flying apart after Appomattox. They were formidable and honorable soldiers, but they also knew when they were licked, and they laid down their arms without a lot of fanfare. And when the Army of Northern Virginia paraded through the Union lines to lay down their arms, they were saluted by the Union troops, and in turn saluted back. Thus the healing began.

Lee himself urged many, many butternut soldiers, both in person and in writing, to sign the amnesty forms and get their citizenship back. His own would have been restored had it not been for Secretary of State William Henry Seward, one of the biggest jackasses in Lincoln’s cabinet short of Edwin M. Stanton. Instead, it had to be restored posthumously in 1974 by vote of Congress, after someone discovered in the National Archives Lee’s amnesty form that had been hidden away by Seward after he received it.

If you have not studied the Civil War and its aftermath, you probably have no idea how many soldiers pleaded with Lee to disappear with them into the mountains to continue the resistance against the Federals — and the fact that he did not, and indeed scolded them for even considering such a doomed pursuit, is another mark in his favor. To tear down his monuments is to deny his importance to our history, regardless of his actions in the field between April 1861 and April 1865.  The same is true of the monuments raised to other great men of the Civil War, including some like Major General George H. Thomas, who fought for the Union, but is now denigrated because his family in Virginia owned slaves.

Full disclosure: I’m a Hoosier, born and bred. Members of my family fought on both sides. It doesn’t matter because it ended over a century and a half ago, with the Union restored and slavery ended. That being said, I believe in my heart that the South was correct about States’ Rights, and we see the result of their defeat on that subject today in our massively expanded Federal Government, which operates far beyond the pale of what was agreed upon in Philadelphia during that hot summer of 1787.

You really want to tear the country apart? Keep tearing down our history. That will do it just fine.