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A government employees union condemned a Republican congressman on Wednesday for displaying what it called 'a racist book' in his office, opened to an 1856 letter Robert E. Lee wrote to his wife about slavery in the American south.
The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 700,000 federal and District of Columbia government workers, said the book was open to a page in which Lee argued that '[t]he blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, societally, and physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their instruction as a race.'
Union - Press - Release - Members - Biography
The union said in a press release that one of its members spotted the 1897 biography, 'Gen. Robert Edward Lee: Soldier, Citizen, and Christian Patriot,' in Georgia Rep. Drew Ferguson's office on Capitol Hill. A photograph shows it on a bookshelf, under glass.
Their press release also quoted Lee on the same page, saying: '[I]f he means well to the slave he must not create angry feelings in the master.'
Rest - Letter - Years - Founding - Confederate
The rest of the letter, written four years before the founding of the southern Confederate States of America and six years before Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, was anti-slavery in tone.
The union said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon: 'No, we did not read the full letter.'
Lee - December - Letter - Wife - Texas
Lee wrote the December 1856 letter to his wife while he was stationed in Texas, commanding U.S. troops.
'[I]n this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil in any country,' he wrote, in the same letter reproduced in the book in Ferguson's office.
Lee - Descendants - Pilgrim - Fathers - Atlantic
'Is it not strange,' Lee asked, 'that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom of opinion, have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual...
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