as England, was established since 1776 ; that her inhabitants, since that time, had continued to consider the convention as the regular and legitimate power of the State ; that it was this convention, and not the individual people, who was in charge, according to general understanding, of keeping or breaking off the federal pact ; that by several acts, Virginia had, since the beginning, reserved for herself the right to recover her independence ; one can understand that, once the breach was accomplished, the inhabitants' duty was not so easy to perceive. At least let us establish, before ending, that later on, when he obeyed to the call of the Virginia Convention, Lee did not intend to defend slavery -- which he called “a moral and political evil in any country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it a greater evil to the White than to the Black race,” said he.
He simply intended to defend Virginia′s right to modify, by herself, her own laws.
It is in this belief, and the right that Virginia had to command his obedience even against the government of the Union -- that resides, in our opinion, the mistake of General Lee. But, because his belief was sincere, because his mistake was loyal, we dare, without hiding our regrets, claim for him the deep respect of all noble-minded men.