Robert E. Lee U.S. Army Officer and General of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia (1807–1870)
Questions for Further Study
1. In the popular imagination of the United States as a whole and the South in particular, Robert E. Lee is typically regarded as a heroic figure. Although most Americans, even in the former Confederate states, would say that the Confederate causes of slavery and secession were wrong, Lee himself is often viewed as a victim of circumstances—a man of principle who, while he did not personally support these causes, nevertheless remained loyal to his state of Virginia. Judging from Lee's writings, how justified is this portrayal? What were his positions on slavery and secession?
2. In the 1863 letter to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, Lee critiques what in modern times would be called “the media,” maintaining that the southern press was actually hurting the Confederate cause by giving northerners little reason to believe that the issues underlying the Civil War might even then be settled by peaceful means. Likewise, the 1864 letter to Davis...
Robert E. Lee (Library of Congress)View Full Size