This is a letter published in the Spectator from General Robert E.
Lee to General Rosencrans,
which was written on August 26, 1868 in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. regarding emancipation.
September 11, 1868
The idea that the Southern people are hostile to the negroes, and would oppress them if it was in their power to do so, is entirely unfounded. They have grown up in our midst, and we have been accustomed from childhood to look upon them with kindness. the change in the relations of the two races has brought no change in our feelings towards them. They still constitute the important part of our laboring population. Without their labor the lands of the South would be comparatively unproductive. Without the employment which the Southern agriculture affords they would be destitute of the means of subsistence, and become paupers, dependent on public bounty. Self interest, even if there were no higher motive, would, therefore prompt the whites of the South to extend the negroes care and protection.
The important fact that the two races are, under existing circumstances, necessary to each other is gradually becoming apparent to both, and we believe that but for the influences exerted to stir up the passions of the negroes, the relations of the two races would soon adjust themselves on a basis of mutual kindness and advantage.
It is true that the people of the South, together with the people of the North and, west are, for obvious reasons, opposed to any system of laws which will place the political power of the country in the hands of the negro race. But this opposition springs from no feeling of enmity, but from a deep-seated conviction that at present the negroes have neither the intelligence, nor other qualifications which are necessary to make them safe depositories of political power. They would inevitably become the victims of demagogues, who for selfish purposes would mislead them to the serious injury of the public. . .