Around the age of 11-12, I became very interested in American History, especially the civil war. I read bios of Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I could name 20 generals on either side and often did so before going to sleep. I devoured a rousing fictional series of 2 brothers on opposite sides.
My sympathies were strongly for the South. Lee. Jackson, Jeb Stuart, Nathan Bedford Forrrest -- those were my heroes. I even sucked on lemons because Stonewall did. When I was asked why, I said because they tasted good.
Slavery? It didn't enter into it. The confederate generals had dash, courage, charisma, elan. The generals of the Army of the Potomac were dull, fainthearted, clogs. Even Lincoln couldn't abide them. He had to wait 'till later in the game for Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman.
What was this jewish child not that far removed from the shtetls of Poland doing routing for the sweeping cavalry raids of Jeb Stuart? Well why not? I felt as American as if I were a direct descendant of Miles Standish.
What do I think should be done with the confederate flag on the South Carolina statehouse? Tear it down, of course. It is offensive. But let's not go wild. Let's keep the capitol named Washington even though George had over 300 slaves at the time of his death. (His will freed them after the death of his wife.)
And Jefferson, who held these truths to be self evident but had over 100 slaves including his beloved Sally Hemmings. At least as President, he criminalized the international slave trade.
And the revered constitution, which, for purposes of representation, counted backs as three fifths of a person.
At Yale my college was Calhoun, named for John C. Calhoun. the great champion of secession and slavery. I would not be surprised to see Yale students demand a name change. I couldn't care less if they get their way or not.
Let's be cognizant of the times. When Robert E. Lee was offered to head the Army of the Potomac, he chose instead to lead the confederate armies. Was he a traitor to his country? no, he was loyal to Virginia, which had been its own country 150 years before 55 years of being only part of the whole.
"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it., and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that." Abraham Lincoln, 8/22/1862
Should we remove him from the penny?
Or should we concentrate on removing restrictive state laws that make it more difficult for blacks to vote?