Rare Photo Found of Robert E. Lee Slave

Image of Selina Gray discovered on eBay
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2014 5:23 PM CDT
Rare Photo Found of Robert E. Lee Slave
Selina Gray, at right, was a slave owned by Robert E. Lee.   (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The National Park Service has found—on eBay—only the second photo known to exist of a famous slave owned by Robert E. Lee and and his wife, reports AP. The image, bought by the service for $700, shows Selina Gray and two younger girls, possibly her children. Gray served as the Lees' head housekeeper in Arlington, Va. During the Civil War, while Lee was off leading the Confederate army, she famously confronted raiding Union soldiers and told them to keep their hands off "Mrs. Lee's things," reports the Washington Post. She is credited with preserving scores of heirlooms at Arlington House that once belonged to George Washington and had been handed down to the Lees. (Wife Mary Lee was a relation.)

“It’s in­cred­ibly rare to have photos of slaves that we can identify,” says a spokesperson for the National Park Service. “Since slaves were property, it’s really hard to identify the people in images like this. This is a priceless item to add to our collection.” The person who put the photo up for sale on the auction site lives in England and found it in a box of unwanted photographs at a yard sale. An inscription on the back reads, "Gen Lees Slaves Arlington Va." Gray was given her freedom in 1862, and she and her family bought land near Arlington. (Lee's namesake college recently decided to take down its Confederate flags.)

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