Robert E. Lee doesn't deserve a statue but Thomas Jefferson does

Lee strove to destroy the country and thus deserves to be remembered in infamy, not as a hero.

As the author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson enshrined the ideals that made this nation. Those words gave courage to thousands of bondmen, indeed, they were quoted by the revolutionaries in Haiti (though Jefferson’s administration did not recognize the revolutionary government there). Jefferson’s words formed our national identity as free people and marked a departure in human affairs. As the British statesman Edmund Burke remarked at the time: “It has made as great a change in all the relations, and balances, and gravitation of power, as the appearance of a new planet would in the system of the solar world.” Historian David Armitage estimates that at least half of the world’s nations today boast a document that can be called a declaration of independence. A 19th-century Hungarian nationalist, Lajos Kossuth, called the American Declaration of Independence “the noblest, happiest page in mankind’s history.”

Was Jefferson a hypocrite? Oh yes. One of history’s most flamboyant. He owned slaves and almost certainly fathered children with his dead wife’s half sister, Sally Hemmings, an enslaved woman. But he never defended the institution (as Lee did), quite the contrary. He wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.”