Sunday, January 19, 2014

BIRTH | Jan. 19–Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee, a hero to
both sides.
This day was born in 1807 Confederate commander Robert E. Lee. He was born at Stratford Hall, Westmoreland County, Va. and graduated from West Point.

He was unusual in that he was a hero not only in the South but even in the North. President Lincoln asked him to be a Union Army commander because Lee was loyal to the Union. He didn't believe the South should secede.

But Lee was even more loyal to Virginia. When it joined in the secession, Lee committed himself to the Confederate cause. After the Civil War, he took a post as president of Washington College, which was later renamed Washington and Lee University. He suffered a stroke in 1870, contracted pneumonia, and died two weeks later.

Four years after his death, Georgia Senator Benjamin Harvey Hill paid tribute to Lee. It was written  in prose, but it sounds like poetry. He said of Lee:
He was a foe without hate; / a friend without treachery; /a soldier without cruelty; / a victor without oppression, / and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; / a private citizen without wrong; / a neighbor without reproach; / a Christian without hypocrisy, / and a man without guile. He was a Caesar, without his ambition; / Frederick without his tyranny; / Napoleon without his selfishness, / and Washington without his reward.

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