Friday, October 24, 2008

Irony at Appomattox

A while back, I posed the question, which two American Presidents were once POWs. Only one person got the answer: George Washington, who was briefly a prisoner of the French at Fort Dusquene (near modern Pittsburgh), and Andrew Jackson, who as a young boy, was a prisoner of the British during the War for Independence. A British officer told Jackson to shine his boots; Jackson indignantly refused. The officer struck Jackson across the face with his sabre; Jackson carried the scar for the rest of his life. And he did *not* shine those boots.

Anyone who was paying attention during history class knows that General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox to end the Civil War in April 1865. OK, which family owned slaves. Oh, irony, irony, irony! Robert E. Lee's father-in-la was a very wealthy man who owned a great many slaves, who by the provisions of his will (he died in 1858) ere to be manumitted in 5 years. So, ironically enough, Lee's slaves were freed on New Year's Day 1863- the same day the Emancipation Proclamation was due to take effect. (If not for the will's provisions, they would have had to have waited until the Union Army got to them.)

General Grant's in-laws owned many slaves in Missouri, who did not gain their freedom until the end of 1865. The General's wife owned one slave as a maid- so at the time of Appomattox, the Confederacy's General, a non-slave owner, surrendered to the Union General whose wife still owned a slave.

During my research, I came across one other interesting bit of trivia: in the late 1850s, through his in-laws Ulysses Grant owned one slave, a man named William Jones. At that point in his life, the Grants were in *extremely* bad shape financially; selling jones would have brought in some *badly* needed cash. Grant simply set Jones free.Kent

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