A past historian of Lee’s Arlington mansion, Murray Nelligan, understood that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton determined that the Lee family should never occupy their home again — placing a hospital on the grounds and a village for Negro refugees from the South. Not stopping there, he had a tax levied on the property which required payment by the owner in person. A relative of Mrs. Lee offered to pay the tax, but the authorities decided that such a procedure did not fulfill the letter of the law, so the estate was put up for sale at public auction on January 11, 1864, in Alexandria, Virginia. Congressman Graham Barden lectured Northern women on their continued sectional bitterness.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
Defending Lee and Southern Heritage
“Barden’s opportunity to appear as a champion of the South occurred when a delegation of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Grand Army of the Republic appeared before the [House] Library Committee to oppose a resolution to erect a memorial to Robert E. Lee near the mansion in Arlington.
Barden sat quietly and uncomfortably until the ladies attack upon Southern generals and the Confederacy turned into a tirade against the South and all Southerners. Then, as the only Southerner present on the committee, Barden came to the defense of not only Robert E. Lee, but of Southern heritage.
The congressman declared that he had “never heard such sectional bitterness expressed.” Answering the women’s insistence that Arlington National Cemetery was a “Union and not a Confederate graveyard” and that even though a few Confederate dead were buried there, Arlington was not a place to honor Confederates, Barden pointed out that in his home town of New Bern [North Carolina] a thousand Union soldiers were buried with honor in a beautiful cemetery.
He continued: “We of the South do not propose to keep our brains and characters befogged by bitterness and prejudice. The hospitality of the South has never been questioned, not even by a dead Union soldier.” [New Bern Sun-Journal, April 27, 1935]
The effectiveness of Barden’s position was apparent when the committee voted to report the Memorial bill favorably.”
(Graham A. Barden, Conservative Carolina Congressman, Elmer L. Puryear, Campbell University Press, 1979, excerpts, pp. 22-23)