A lot has been said about Robert E. Lee following the violence at Charlottesville that left one dead and several injured. Lawmakers across the country have called for statues of Lee and other Confederate leaders to be removed and have been successful in several cases.
Of course, leftist hysteria has been at an all-time high over this issue. Facts have been tossed aside in favor of emotion and sob stories and anybody who supports President Trump is now a bigoted, homopohobic, Nazi who dog whistles racism and whatever buzzword professors with no real skills are teaching college students who also have no skills these days.
Lost in all the commotion are any facts about Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy in general. The hysteria has gotten so out of hand that ESPN recently removed an Asian American announcer named Robert Lee from a UVA game so nobody would be offended.
While some Confederates were traitors and terrorists who wanted nothing to do with the Union, the vast majority of people who died fighting for the Confederacy did it because they didn’t want to take up arms against their neighbors. It was a different world in 1860 and people, especially those in the south, had a-lot more pride in their home state than they do today. Without internet or even phone service, most people only knew those that lived immediately around them and never ventured too far from where they were raised.
Robert E. Lee was one of these people. He has a controversial legacy and many would sooner lump him in with Benedict Arnold than they would Ulysses. S. Grant. There is merit to this viewpoint, and people are allowed to believe whatever they choose to beleive, but our opinions should not be formed off of emotional speeches by Don Lemon.
Here are five facts about Robert E. Lee that they aren’t talking about in the mainstream media.
1. He Was A Veteran Of The Mexican American War And Graduated From West Point
Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class from West Point in June, 1829 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Corps Of Engineers.
Lee would go on to serve in the Mexican-American War, a conflict that would give many Civil War commanders on both sides their first taste of combat. Lee served as a chief aide to General Winfield Scott and was involved in many engagements. He was praised by General Scott, saying “I am compelled to make special mention of Capt. R. E. Lee, Engineers. This officer greatly distinguished himself at the siege of Vera Cruz; was again indefatigable during these operations in reconnaissance, as daring as laborious, and of the utmost value. Nor was he less conspicuous in planning batteries and in conducting columns to their stations”.
Lee would eventually become Superintendent of West Point in 1852 where he served until 1855.
2. He Was Offered Command Of The Union Army
When it was clear that war was on the horizon in 1861, Lincoln appointed General Scott to organize the war effort. At 74 years old, Scott was less than capable of leading an army into battle and offered the command to his former aide Robert E. Lee. Lee declined this offer, stating that he did not want to fight against his fellow Virginians. He resigned his commission from the U.S. army when Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861.
3. He Was Opposed To Secession
While he eventually did take up arms against the Union, Lee was actually opposed to succession.
“As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and her institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than the dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution” – Robert E. Lee.
You’d think that a man who said that would never betray the Union, but the worst part about the Civil War was that it pinned neighbor against neighbor. While he loved his country; Lee, like many antebellum southerners, felt a greater duty to his state and neighbors than he did to the Union as a whole.
4. His Estate Was Turned Into Arlington National Cemetery
Positioned just across the Potomac, Lee’s estate at Arlington House was eventually turned into Arlington National Cemetery. Due to the high death toll in the Virginia campaigns, the U.S. government quickly ran out of burial plots and needed to expand.
Arlington became a prime target after the Wilderness campaign as it was in a prime location and served as the home of Lee, something many in the Union wanted to take away. Burials unofficially began in 1864 after the property was confiscated by the government from Mary Custis Lee, but was eventually overturned after one of Lee’s heirs successfully sued the government in 1883. However, the property was quickly re-purchased for $150,000 and has served as a military resting place over since.
5. Lee Was Opposed To Confederate Monuments
Lee believed that Confederate monuments would only re-open wounds in a country that was trying to heal from the Civil War. He did not want to be buried in his Confederate uniform nor did he attend a ceremony at Gettysburg to honor the battle. In an 1866 letter, Lee wrote:
“As regards the erection of such a monument as is contemplated; my conviction is, that however grateful it would be to the feelings of the South, the attempt in the present condition of the Country, would have the effect of retarding, instead of accelerating its accomplishment; & of continuing, if not adding to, the difficulties under which the Southern people labour.”