Commission calls for stripping Robert E. Lee of honors at West Point

Last updated on August 29, 2022

The congressional commission reviewing Pentagon property honoring the Confederacy is recommending renaming facilities and removing depictions dedicated to Robert E. Lee and other leaders at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy.

The Naming Commission, in its second report to Congress, focused on the two service academies after recommending new names in May for Army bases stretching from Texas to Virginia that honor Confederate officers.

The biggest changes in the new round are set for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where multiple buildings and other facilities are named for Lee, who served as superintendent before leading the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

That includes Lee Barracks, where cadets are housed, a day care center, a road, a gate and a portrait that hangs in Jefferson Hall of Lee wearing his Confederate uniform.

POLITICO first reported in June that the famous portrait would be singled out by the bipartisan commission for removal.

“The Commissioners do not make these recommendations with any intention of ‘erasing history,” its new report released on Monday states. “The facts of the past remain and the commissioners are confident the history of the Civil War will continue to be taught at all service academies with all the quality and complex detail our national past deserves.

“Rather, they make these recommendations to affirm West Point’s long tradition of educating future generations of America’s military leaders to represent the best of our national ideals,” it adds.

Other Confederate generals who will no longer be honored on the campus include P.G.T. Beauregard, who led the attack on Fort Sumter that marked the opening of the Civil War, and William Hardee, another former superintendent who fought for the Confederacy.

At the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the commission calls for renaming Buchanan House, the superintendent’s quarters honoring Adm. Frank Buchanan, a leader of the Confederate Navy, as well as an engineering building named for Cmdr. Matthew Maury, an astronomer and a Confederate naval officer.

However, the commission decided that Confederate artifacts contained in museums do not fall under its jurisdiction, “since the purpose of these museums is to collect, preserve, exhibit, and interpret historically significant artifacts pertaining to that base, mission, or other focus.”

It also does not call for the removal of any grave markers for the Confederate fallen. “No grave markers at the United States Military Academy or the United States Naval Academy — nor at any base under the remit of the Commission — would be considered for removal,” the report says.

A final report to Congress is due by Oct. 1 on the remaining assets at other DoD installations that were not covered in the first two reports. Lawmakers and the Pentagon chief must approve the changes before they can go into effect.