Did the Lincoln Family Own 5 Slaves?
Updated: Oct 7, 2022
According The Naming Commission, yes! The Lincoln family is not mentioned in the report but somehow through an absolutely ridiculous standard, the report, in trying to make Robert E. Lee look terrible, makes either an awful mistake or possibly one of the most ridiculous standards imaginable about property ownership.
On page 47, Part I of The Naming Commission report declares that the Lee family owned 200 slaves. According to the report, this was the only difference between other West Point graduates from Virginia with the rank of Colonel. There is nothing true about this declaration. I will document the absurdity of the Colonel myth in a following post. For now, lets evaluate the massive slavery lie that is designed to distract you from the facts regarding whether Lee's service in the Confederate Army was voluntary.
Robert E. Lee called slavery in 1856 a "moral and political evil." Like most men against slavery at this time, he also argued that it was awful for whites, just as Republican politicians would argue in future campaigns. Lee's father died a debtor, so he inherited no land or slaves from him. When Lee's mother died, he inherited 3 or 4 slaves. We have no records of Lee emancipating them as his son later claimed, or selling them. To be clear, there is no record of Lee ever buying, selling, or trading any slaves. This would be impossible in a family that owned 200! So where did the Naming Commission get this notion? As always, it is hard to tell, since they refuse to reveal their sources.
It appears The Naming Commission is attributing the slaves owned by Lee's father-in-law as belonging to his own immediate family. But Lee, his wife, and all children, never at any point owned these slaves. Even more surprising to many, George Washington Parke Custis (Lee's father-in-law) was the grandson of Martha Washington. The slaves that he inherited came from Martha Washington from the Custis estate. George Washington Park Custis freed his slaves in his will upon his death in 1857. The will is readily available for anyone to read. At the time of the war, the slaves were slated to be freed. Robert E. Lee was merely the executor of the will. Did they confuse Custis with Lee and confuse ownership with an executor?
The one thing you can be sure about is the Lincoln family did not own 5 slaves and the Lee family did not own 200. This is all to distract you from the actual question the committee is supposed to answer.
And if Lee didn't own slaves, what is the real difference between him and those other Colonels from Virginia who graduated from West Point? Well they weren't all Virginians! See my next post for details.