Here’s what Robert E. Lee thought about Confederate monuments

The violence that erupted in Charlottesville over the weekend, which left one woman killed and dozens more injured, stemmed from a white nationalist and alt-right protest over the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Debates about the removal of Confederate statues have been ongoing for many years, and opponents of removing the monuments often decry such attempts as an attempt to erase history.

RELATED: Confederate monuments that still remain across the country

10 PHOTOS
Confederate monuments that still remain across the country
See Gallery
Confederate monuments that still remain across the country
A bronze statue, titled the Confederate SoldieR is viewed in downtown Alexandria, Virginia, on August 14, 2017. He stands in the middle of the street, his back to the nation's capital as he gazes southwards towards the bloody battlefields of the Civil War. Erected nearly 130 years ago, the bronze statue of an unarmed Confederate soldier sits at a busy intersection in Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington,DC.The Alexandria statue, known as 'Appomattox,' is one of hundreds of similar monuments across the American South honoring the Confederate dead.Debate over what to do with these controversial symbols of the Confederacy has been simmering for years and is likely to intensify after boiling over into bloodshed at the weekend. / AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards / TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CHRIS LEFKOW- 'Pressure builds to remove Confederate statues following clashes over plans to pull down a monument to rebel commander Robert E. Lee in a Virginia city' (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
A monument to former U.S. Vice President and Confederate General John Cabell Breckinridge stands outside the Old Courthouse in Lexington, Ky., U.S., August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
NEW ORLEANS, LA - MAY 04: A view of the Jefferson Davis monument on May 4, 2017 in New Orleans, Loiusiana. The Louisiana House committee on Municipal, Parochial and Cultural Affairs voted Wednesday to advance House Bill 71 that would forbid the removal of Confederate monuments in Louisiana as the City Council in New Orleans tries to move three statues of Confederate luminaries from public spaces and into museums. Protests that have at times turned violent have erupted at the site of the Jefferson Davis Monument after the Battle at Liberty Place monument was taken down in the middle of the night on April 24. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A general view of the Confederate monument in Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia - completed in 1879 the monument is dedicated to those who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. (Photo by Epics/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, USA - MAY 7, 2017: A person in opposition to the removal of monuments to the Confederacy holds confederate flags against the Robert E. Lee statue in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Annie Flanagan for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE - DECEMBER 31: Belle Kinney's Confederate Women's Monument in War Memorial Plaza on December 31, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)
Farmville, VA - January 12 : A confederate monument stands across the street from Ruffner Hall at Longwood University. University President, W. Taylor Reveley IV is fond of saying the civil war ended at one end of Longwood's campus, and the modern civil rights era begin at the other end of campus. (Photo by Norm Shafer/ For The Washington Post via Getty Images).
A memorial to Confederate soldiers stands on the banks of the Ohio River in Brandenburg, Kentucky, U.S. May 29, 2017. The memorial was recently removed from the campus of the University of Louisville. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
A monument of Robert E. Lee, who was a general in the Confederate Army, is removed in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

In light of all this, it's probably best to remember one relevant historical fact: Robert E. Lee was opposed to Confederate monuments.

"It's often forgotten that Lee himself, after the Civil War, opposed monuments, specifically Confederate war monuments," Jonathan Horn, a Lee biographer, told PBS.

After the Civil War, Lee received a number of letters requesting support for the erection of Confederate memorials, according to Horn.

In June 1866, he wrote that he couldn't support a monument of one of his best generals, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, saying it wasn't "feasible at this time."

SEE ALSO: Trump slams removing 'beauty' of Confederate monuments as 'foolish'

"As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated," Lee wrote in December 1866 about another proposed Confederate monument, "my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; [and] of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour."

Not only was Lee opposed to Confederate memorials, "he favored erasing battlefields from the landscape altogether," Horn wrote.

He even supported getting rid of the Confederate flag after the Civil War ended, and didn't want them them flying above Washington College, which he was president of after the war.

Community Of Charlottesville Mourns, After Violent Outbreak Surrounding Saturday's Alt Right Rally

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

"Lee did not want such divisive symbols following him to the grave," Horn wrote. "At his funeral in 1870, flags were notably absent from the procession. Former Confederate soldiers marching did not don their old military uniforms, and neither did the body they buried."

"His Confederate uniform would have been 'treason' perhaps!" Lee's daughter wrote, according to Horn.

"Lee believed countries that erased visible signs of civil war recovered from conflicts quicker," Horn told PBS. "He was worried that by keeping these symbols alive, it would keep the divisions alive."

NOW WATCH: This is the helicopter that will replace Marine One

See Also:

SEE ALSO: GETTYSBURG: Here's how the Civil War's most important battle was fought

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.