Who were the Bannister family? Further research is needed as to the father of Nancy who insisted that she was a Bannister; and, if she was free in 1825, how and if she was the "Nancy and her children" cited in the will of Robert E. Lee in 1846 and apparently not freed until around 1862 in the vicinity of Richmond, Chesterfield County.
The issues are further complicated by the several persons in the 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890 and even later census data of Chesterfield and other counties --- named after and perceived as descendents of William Lee an obvious fixture of great importance in the minds of his descendents.
It is amazing that so many dozens of writers about the life of Robert E. Lee, --- never ever mind to interview any descendents of Custis-Lee slaves. For the average American scholar, slaves came to America with no cultural dynamics and were nothing but chattel until their emancipation by Abraham Lincoln, --- and segregated as inferiors until the 1964 civil rights act.
The contempt expressed by most American historians is rationalized on the old bigotry, --- slaves lied about being ill-treated and being illiterate they did not know that which they saw. Listening to such writers is sickening when one realizes that so little has changed in the cultural dynamics of this society. The big question is not why but how to improve the climate that breeds contempt.
Our issue is that William Lee exhibited that which Jesus, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and men like them most admired, --- faith, hope and courage as the greatest of virtues! Only the first was born in the Messianic spirit but it surely existed in all by the time they died, --- as evidenced by their records and wills that essentially discarded Roman doctrines they had been born into. Indeed, Martha Custis Washington, who loved him most, could not understand George in his last years!
Slaves also were born into a doctrinal Roman republic of property and privilege. Not all slaves were virtuous but many were --- and that alone bred respect among men and women of Messianic mind-sets like Jefferson, and Lincoln too. It is very applicable to the scholar classes who seem unable to conceive virtues (or even beauty) as existing in people who were slaves or descendents of slaves.
Worse still, many seem reluctant to accept facts that Messianic Christian doctrine was the most powerful influence to evolve in changing attitudes of courageous slaves, like Mary Perth of Norfolk and Lott Carey, or slave-owners like his master in Richmond. "Hope" emerged from the mouths of Jesses' in every generation and the mission has not changed one bit!
with questions or comments about this web site.