I have been mulling over John Massoud’s commentary in your May 28th issue, purportedly explaining why Stonewall Jackson should have a school named after him. The only justification put forth by Mr. Massound is his twice-repeated statement that Jackson “put the Shenandoah Valley on the map for millions of Americans.” That seems more like a euphemism than a justification. Al Capone, for example, could be said to have put Chicago “on the map” for millions of Americans but I don’t know that anyone believes that that is a reason to name a school after Capone.

The thing that set Jackson apart is that — like Robert E. Lee — he did not hesitate to break his sacred oath “to protect and defend the United States.” Instead, he committed treason by “levying War against them.” U.S. Constitution Article III, Section 3, Clause 1. Whatever else he may have done in his life, it was Jackson’s traitorous actions in waging war against the United States that constitute the basis for honoring him.

At the very least, let’s be honest and not engage in circumlocutions designed to obscure that fact. I’m sure that Jackson himself was proud of his actions; presumably his supporters are as well. Those who believe Jackson deserves to have a school named after him should admit that they want to honor him for waging war against the United States. That is their right as United States citizens. If Mr. Massoud has other reasons for honoring Jackson, he should say so.

Frank P. Cihlar, Woodstock

(7) comments

John Chroniger

While the reason for or against the name is battered about the liberals on the school board failed to work in conjunction with the people and taxpayers that elected them. Thus the cry went up and three new board members were elected to follow the will of the people. Three new members will be elected in anothe 1 1/2 years and the name change will be an issue again.Elections do have consequences.


There are some suggestions that Lee did not violate his oath. In his book Robert E. Lee and Me, Ty Seidel, Professor Emeritus of History at West Point writes in 1855 Lee took this oath: ". I, Robert E. Lee, appointed a Lieutenant Colonel of the Second Regt. of Cavalry in the Army of the United States, do solemnly swear or affirm, that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever; and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to the Rules and Articles for the Government of the armies of the United States". As this was the standard oath taken at the time it is presumed Lee took the same oath on March 30, 1861 when he was promoted to colonel.

Seidel goes on to say "As a professional soldier, Lee resigned, but could he ever go against the oaths prescription to defend "the United States paramount to any and all allegiance ..to any State, or "against all enemies or opposer"? In my opinion, no. Not legally or ethically. And of course, fighting for slavery meant it was morally wrong too". Lee mailed his resignation to the War Dpt. on April 20, 1961.

It does beg the question, as to what oath Jackson took in 1846 upon graduation and his promotions to first lieutenant and to the brevet rank of major in the Mexican War.


Correction to my post: April 20, 1861.


Well stated. As another letter recently pointed out, Jackson died during the war and therefore never reclaimed allegiance to the United States. He was an enemy combatant. Why on earth should he be honored?


RE "The thing that set Jackson apart is that — like Robert E. Lee — he did not hesitate to break his sacred oath “to protect and defend the United States.” Instead, he committed treason by “levying War against them.” U.S. Constitution Article III, Section 3, Clause 1" is not factually correct.


Unlike Lee (who BTW resigned his commision from the US Army before joining the CSA ) Jackson was not on active duty when teaching at VMI so there was no oath to break.

So exactly what is the litmus test for honoring our past leaders ? Peter Muhlenberg and James Madison owned enslaved people yet we honor them as well as our Founding Fathers who supported the "pecular institution."

I am not following the logic please expalin.

Dennis Atwood

Well said, and important Frank; but I'm strongly disappointed that you didn't mention that the supreme purpose of the Confederacy's war on the USA was to keep legal the enslavement of African Americans. They proudly so-stated themselves.


One should also note that Virginia voted not to secede. Only when Pres Lincoln broke laws and acted like a tyrant did Va secede. One should know that Lincoln did not go to war to free slaves, his own words. Secession was legal at the time. The SCOTUS did not rule otherwise until 1868.

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