Robert E. Lee
Honoring an American Hero
On August 5, 1975, 110 years after Gen. Lee's application, President Gerald Ford signed
Joint Resolution 23, restoring the long overdue full rights of citizenship to Gen. Robert
Some people are declaring 2007, "The Year of Lee."
Please share the following story with your children and local school teachers. The story of Robert E. Lee should be taught in our nation's schools as America prepares to remember his 200th birthday on Friday, January 19, 2007.
The late Franklin D. Roosevelt, America's 32nd president, spoke at the unveiling of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Statue in Dallas, Texas, on June 12, 1936 and said, quote, I am happy to take part in this unveiling of the statue of Lee. All over the United States we recognize him, as a great general. But also, all over the United States, I believe we recognize him as something much more than that. We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen." unquote.
Who was Robert E. Lee?
Robert E. Lee, a man whose military tactics have been studied worldwide, was an American soldier, educator, Christian gentlemen, husband and father.
Robert E. Lee said, "All the South has ever desired was that the Union as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government, as originally organized, should be administered in purity and truth."
Robert E. Lee was born at Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. The winter was cold and the fire places were little help for his mother, Ann Hill (Carter) Lee, who was also suffering from a severe cold.
Ann Lee named her son "Robert Edward" after her two brothers.
Robert E. Lee's love for his country undoubtedly came from his close association with those who had lived during the American Revolution. His father, "Light Horse" Harry Lee, was a Revolutionary War hero, Governor of Virginia and a member of the House of Representatives.
Lee was educated in the schools of Alexandria, Virginia. In 1825, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He graduated in 1829, second in his class and without a single demerit.
Lee was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant of the United States Engineer Corps. His first assignment was at Cockspur Island, Georgia to supervise the construction of Fort Pulaski.
Robert E. Lee wed Mary Anna Randolph Custis on June 30, 1831. Robert and Mary grew up together. Mary was the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. George and Martha Washington raised him as their own son.
Mary was the only child; therefore, she inherited Arlington House, located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. where she and Robert E. Lee raised seven children.
In 1836, Lee was appointed 1st Lieutenant. In 1838, with the rank of Captain, Robert E. Lee fought in the War with Mexico. His service in the war began under Gen. Wool but he was later reassigned to the staff of Gen. Winfield Scott. Gen. Scott wrote that Lee was "the best soldier I ever saw in the field."
He was appointed Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1852.
Lee had served in the United States Army for nearly 32 years when he was offered command of the Federal Army at the outset of the War Between the States.
In a letter to his sister on April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee said, quote: "With all my devotion to the Union and the feeling of loyalty and duty as an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home. I therefore, have resigned my commission in the army and save in the defense of my native state, with the sincere hope that my poor services may never be needed" unquote.
Gen. Lee and his family left "Arlington House" at the beginning of the War Between the States. Lee served as advisor to President Jefferson Davis, and then commanded the legendary Army of Northern Virginia beginning on June 1, 1862.
After four years of death and destruction, Gen. Robert E. Lee met Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia on April 9, 1865, that ended their battles.
Robert E. Lee was called Marse Robert, Uncle Robert and Marble Man.
Lee was a man of honor, proud of his name and heritage, After the War Between the States, he was offered $50,000 for the use of his name. His reply was: "Sirs, my name is the heritage of my parents. It is all I have and it is not for sale."
In the fall of 1865, Robert E. Lee was offered and accepted the position of president of troubled Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. The school was later renamed Washington and Lee College in his honor.
Gen. Robert E. Lee died of a heart attack at his Washington College home at 9:30 on the morning of October 12, 1870.
Lee is buried at the school's Chapel near his family and favorite horse "Traveller."
A prolific writer, Lee wrote his most famous quote to his son Custis in 1852: "Duty is the sublimest word in our language."
Sir Winston Churchill once remarked, "Lee was the noblest American who had ever lived and one of the greatest commanders known to the annals of war."
Lest We Forget A Great American Hero!