130 Facts About Robert E Lee


Robert Edward Lee was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, towards the end of which he was appointed the overall commander of the Confederate States Army.

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Robert E Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia—the Confederacy's most powerful army—from 1862 until its surrender in 1865, earning a reputation as a skilled tactician.

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Son of Revolutionary War officer Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, Lee was a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and an exceptional officer and military engineer in the United States Army for 32 years.

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Robert E Lee served across the United States, distinguished himself extensively during the Mexican–American War, and acted as Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.

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Additionally, Robert E Lee married Mary Anna Custis Robert E Lee, great-granddaughter of George Washington's wife Martha.

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When Virginia declared secession from the Union in 1861, Robert E Lee chose to follow his home state, despite his desire for the country to remain intact and an offer of a senior Union command.

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Robert E Lee succeeded in driving the Union Army of the Potomac under George B McClellan away from the Confederate capital of Richmond during the Seven Days Battles, although he was unable to destroy McClellan's army.

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Robert E Lee led his army in the minor and inconclusive Bristoe Campaign that fall before General Ulysses S Grant took command of Union armies in the spring of 1864.

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In 1865, Robert E Lee became president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia; in that position, he supported reconciliation between North and South.

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Robert E Lee accepted "the extinction of slavery" provided for by the Thirteenth Amendment, but opposed racial equality for African Americans.

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Robert E Lee's father suffered severe financial reverses from failed investments and was put in debtors' prison.

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Robert E Lee attended Eastern View, a school for young gentlemen, in Fauquier County, Virginia, and then at the Alexandria Academy, free for local boys, where he showed an aptitude for mathematics.

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Fitzhugh wrote to United States Secretary of War, John C Calhoun, urging that Robert be given an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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Robert E Lee graduated second in his class behind Charles Mason.

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In June 1829, Robert E Lee was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers.

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Robert E Lee was involved in the early stages of construction as the island was being drained and built up.

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In 1831, it became apparent that the existing plan to build what became known as Fort Pulaski would have to be revamped, and Robert E Lee was transferred to Fort Monroe at the tip of the Virginia Peninsula.

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Robert E Lee obtained permission to write to her before leaving for Georgia, though Mary Custis warned Robert E Lee to be "discreet" in his writing, as her mother read her letters, especially from men.

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Custis refused Robert E Lee the first time he asked to marry her; her father did not believe the son of the disgraced Light-Horse Harry Robert E Lee was a suitable man for his daughter.

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Robert E Lee accepted him with her father's consent in September 1830, while he was on summer leave, and the two were wed on June 30,1831.

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Mary Robert E Lee had trouble transitioning from being a rich man's daughter to having to manage a household with only one or two slaves.

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Robert E Lee duly moved there, then discharged all workers and informed the War Department he could not maintain laborers without the facilities of the fort.

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In 1834, Robert E Lee was transferred to Washington as General Gratiot's assistant.

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Robert E Lee had hoped to rent a house in Washington for his family, but was not able to find one; the family lived at Arlington, though Lieutenant Robert E Lee rented a room at a Washington boarding house for when the roads were impassable.

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In mid-1835, Robert E Lee was assigned to assist Andrew Talcott in surveying the southern border of Michigan.

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Mary Robert E Lee, who had recently given birth to their second child, remained bedridden for several months.

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Robert E Lee served as an assistant in the chief engineer's office in Washington, DC from 1834 to 1837, but spent the summer of 1835 helping to lay out the state line between Ohio and Michigan.

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Robert E Lee is a great-great-great-grandson of William Randolph and a great-great-grandson of Richard Bland.

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Robert E Lee was the godfather of actress and writer Odette Tyler, the daughter of Brigadier General William Whedbee Kirkland.

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Robert E Lee was instrumental in several American victories through his personal reconnaissance as a staff officer; he found routes of attack that the Mexicans had not defended because they thought the terrain was impassable.

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Robert E Lee was promoted to brevet major after the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18,1847.

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Robert E Lee fought at Contreras, Churubusco, and Chapultepec and was wounded at the last.

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In 1852, Robert E Lee was appointed Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point.

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Robert E Lee was reluctant to enter what he called a "snake pit", but the War Department insisted and he obeyed.

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Robert E Lee was enormously relieved to receive a long-awaited promotion as second-in-command of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Texas in 1855.

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Robert E Lee served under Colonel Albert Sidney Johnston at Camp Cooper, Texas; their mission was to protect settlers from attacks by the Apache and the Comanche.

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On June 24,1859, the anti-slavery newspaper New York Daily Tribune published two anonymous letters, each claiming to have heard that Robert E Lee had the Norrises whipped, and each going so far as to claim that the overseer refused to whip the woman but that Robert E Lee took the whip and flogged her personally.

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Norris claimed that Robert E Lee encouraged the whipping, and that when the overseer refused to do it, called in the county constable to do it instead.

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Robert E Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.

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Biographers of Robert E Lee have differed over the credibility of the account of the punishment as described in the letters in the Tribune and in Norris's personal account.

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Slavery for Robert E Lee was a moral and religious issue, and not one that would yield to political solutions.

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Robert E Lee argued that slavery was bad for white people, claiming that he found slavery bothersome and time-consuming as an everyday institution to run.

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Also, according to historian Richard B McCaslin, Lee was a gradual emancipationist, denouncing extremist proposals for the immediate abolition of slavery.

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Robert E Lee rejected what he called evilly motivated political passion, fearing a civil and servile war from precipitous emancipation.

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On taking on the role of administrator for the Parke Custis will, Robert E Lee used a provision to retain them in slavery to produce income for the estate to retire debt.

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Robert E Lee did not welcome the role of planter while administering the Custis properties at Romancoke, another nearby the Pamunkey River and Arlington; he rented the estate's mill.

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Robert E Lee considered it his patriotic duty to be apolitical while in active Army service, and Lee did not speak out publicly on the subject of slavery prior to the Civil War.

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Robert E Lee himself owned a small number of slaves in his lifetime and considered himself a paternalistic master.

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Robert E Lee was definitely involved in administering the day-to-day operations of a plantation and was involved in the recapture of runaway slaves.

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One historian noted that Robert E Lee separated slave families, something that prominent slave-holding families in Virginia such as Washington and Custis did not do.

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On December 29,1862, Robert E Lee freed all the slaves his wife had inherited from George Custis, but this was in accordance with the Custis will, as that was the last day he was allowed to legally retain them.

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Princeton University historian James M McPherson noted that Lee initially rejected a prisoner exchange between the Confederacy and the Union when the Union demanded that black Union soldiers be included.

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Robert E Lee did not accept the swap until a few months before the Confederacy's surrender.

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Robert E Lee said to the committee that he hoped that Virginia could "get rid of them, " referring to blacks.

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The argument that Robert E Lee had always somehow opposed slavery, and freed his wife's slaves, helped maintain his stature as a symbol of Southern honor and national reconciliation.

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Robert E Lee initially remained loyal to the Union after Texas seceded.

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Robert E Lee attacked, and Brown and his followers were captured after three minutes of fighting.

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Robert E Lee said Brown achieved "temporary success" by creating panic and confusion and by "magnifying" the number of participants involved in the raid.

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When Texas seceded from the Union in February 1861, General David E Twiggs surrendered all the American forces to the Texans.

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Robert E Lee went back to Washington and was appointed Colonel of the First Regiment of Cavalry in March 1861.

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Robert E Lee's colonelcy was signed by the new president, Abraham Lincoln.

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Three weeks after his promotion, Colonel Robert E Lee was offered a senior command in the expanding Army to fight the Southern States that had left the Union.

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Unlike many Southerners who expected a glorious war, Robert E Lee correctly predicted it as protracted and devastating.

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Robert E Lee privately opposed the new Confederate States of America in letters in early 1861, denouncing secession as "nothing but revolution" and an unconstitutional betrayal of the efforts of the Founding Fathers.

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Robert E Lee agreed with secessionists in most areas, rejecting the Northern abolitionists' criticisms and their prevention of the expansion of slavery to the new western territories, and fear of the North's larger population.

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Robert E Lee supported the Crittenden Compromise, which would have constitutionally protected slavery.

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Scott, commanding general of the Union Army and Robert E Lee's mentor, told Lincoln he wanted him for a top command, telling Secretary of War Simon Cameron that he had "entire confidence" in Robert E Lee.

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That night Robert E Lee dined with brother Smith and cousin Phillips, naval officers.

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In Washington that day, Lee was offered by presidential advisor Francis P Blair a role as major general to command the defense of the national capital.

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Robert E Lee immediately went to Scott, who tried to persuade him that Union forces would be large enough to prevent the South from fighting, so he would not have to oppose his state; Robert E Lee disagreed.

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When Robert E Lee asked if he could go home and not fight, the fellow Virginian said that the army did not need equivocal soldiers and that if he wanted to resign, he should do so before receiving official orders.

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Robert E Lee agreed that to avoid dishonor he had to resign before receiving unwanted orders.

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When Robert E Lee told family his decision, he said "I suppose you will all think I have done very wrong", as the others were mostly pro-Union; only Mary Custis was a secessionist, and her mother especially wanted to choose the Union, but told her husband that she would support whatever he decided.

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At the outbreak of war, Robert E Lee was appointed to command all of Virginia's forces, which then encompassed the Provisional Army of Virginia and the Virginia State Navy.

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Robert E Lee was appointed a Major General by the Virginia Governor, but upon the formation of the Confederate States Army, he was named one of its first five full generals.

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Robert E Lee did not wear the insignia of a Confederate general, but only the three stars of a Confederate colonel, equivalent to his last US Army rank.

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Robert E Lee did not intend to wear a general's insignia until the Civil War had been won and he could be promoted, in peacetime, to general in the Confederate Army.

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Robert E Lee was then sent to organize the coastal defenses along the Carolina and Georgia seaboard, appointed commander, "Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida" on November 5,1861.

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Robert E Lee was said to have failed to get effective support in the Savannah River from the three sidewheeler gunboats of the Georgia Navy.

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Early in the war, Robert E Lee had been called "Granny Robert E Lee" for his allegedly timid style of command.

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Robert E Lee eliminated Pope before reinforcements from McClellan arrived, knocking out an entire field command before another could arrive to support it.

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Robert E Lee chose to take the battle off southern ground and invaded Maryland and Pennsylvania, hoping to collect supplies in Union territory, and possibly win a victory that would sway the upcoming Union elections in favor of ending the war.

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Delays in bridging the river allowed Robert E Lee's army ample time to organize strong defenses, and the Union frontal assault on December 13,1862, was a disaster.

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Robert E Lee sent Stonewall Jackson's corps to attack Hooker's exposed flank, on the opposite side of the battlefield.

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Critical decisions came in May–June 1863, after Robert E Lee's smashing victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

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The top military advisers wanted to save Vicksburg, but Robert E Lee persuaded Davis to overrule them and authorize yet another invasion of the North.

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Robert E Lee's decision proved a significant strategic blunder and cost the Confederacy control of its western regions, and nearly cost Robert E Lee his own army as Union forces cut him off from the South.

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Robert E Lee successfully stopped each attack, but Grant with his superior numbers kept pushing each time a bit farther to the southeast.

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On February 6,1865, Robert E Lee was appointed General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States.

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Robert E Lee resisted calls by some officers to reject surrender and allow small units to melt away into the mountains, setting up a lengthy guerrilla war.

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Robert E Lee insisted the war was over and energetically campaigned for inter-sectional reconciliation.

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In 1866 Robert E Lee counseled southerners not to resume fighting, of which Grant said Robert E Lee was "setting an example of forced acquiescence so grudging and pernicious in its effects as to be hardly realized".

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Robert E Lee joined with Democrats in opposing the Radical Republicans who demanded punitive measures against the South, distrusted its commitment to the abolition of slavery and, indeed, distrusted the region's loyalty to the United States.

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Robert E Lee supported a system of free public schools for blacks but forthrightly opposed allowing blacks to vote.

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Emory Thomas says Robert E Lee had become a suffering Christ-like icon for ex-Confederates.

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Robert E Lee hoped to retire to a farm of his own, but he was too much a regional symbol to live in obscurity.

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Robert E Lee accepted an offer to serve as the president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, and served from October 1865 until his death.

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The Trustees used his famous name in large-scale fund-raising appeals and Robert E Lee transformed Washington College into a leading Southern college, expanding its offerings significantly, adding programs in commerce and journalism, and incorporating the Lexington Law School.

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Robert E Lee quickly reversed this rule, requiring most students to board off-campus, and allowing only the most mature to live in the dorms as a mark of privilege; the results of this policy were considered a success.

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Robert E Lee sent an application to Grant and wrote to President Johnson on June 13,1865:.

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On October 2,1865, the same day that Robert E Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson's proclamation.

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Robert E Lee repeatedly expelled white students from Washington College for violent attacks on local black men, and publicly urged obedience to the authorities and respect for law and order.

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Robert E Lee died two weeks later, shortly after 9 am on October 12,1870, in Lexington, Virginia, from the effects of pneumonia.

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Robert E Lee was buried underneath the college chapel now known as University Chapel at Washington and Lee University, where his body remains.

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Robert E Lee was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a soldier without cruelty; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring.

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Robert E Lee was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without wrong; a neighbour without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy, and a man without guile.

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Robert E Lee was a Caesar, without his ambition; Frederick, without his tyranny; Napoleon, without his selfishness, and Washington, without his reward.

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Robert E Lee's admirers have pointed to his character and devotion to duty, and his occasional tactical successes in battles against a stronger foe.

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Robert E Lee was not given full direction of the Southern war effort until late in the conflict.

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Robert E Lee has been commemorated on US postage stamps at least five times, the first one being a commemorative stamp that honored Stonewall Jackson, issued in 1936.

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Robert E Lee was commemorated with a 32-cent stamp issued in the American Civil War Issue of June 29,1995.

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In 1865, after the war, Robert E Lee was paroled and signed an oath of allegiance, asking to have his citizenship of the United States restored.

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However, his application was not processed by Secretary of State William Seward, a radical Republican and firm opponent of slavery, and as a result Robert E Lee did not receive a pardon and his citizenship was not restored.

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On January 30,1975, Senate Joint Resolution 23, A joint resolution to restore posthumously full rights of citizenship to General R E Lee was introduced into the Senate by Senator Harry F Byrd Jr.

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Robert E Lee opposed the construction of public memorials to Confederate rebellion on the grounds that they would prevent the healing of wounds inflicted during the war.

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Arlington House, The Robert E Lee Memorial, known as the Custis–Lee Mansion, is a Greek revival mansion in Arlington, Virginia, that was once Lee's home.

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The four other Confederate statues were removed in 2020, and the equestrian statue of Robert E Lee was removed on 8 September 2021 at the direction of the state government.

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Statue of Robert E Lee was one of the two statues representing Virginia in Statuary Hall in the US Capitol in Washington, DC It was removed from the Capitol on December 21,2020, after a state commission voted to replace it with a statue of Civil Rights activist Barbara Rose Johns.

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Robert E Lee is one of the figures depicted in bas-relief carved into Stone Mountain near Atlanta.

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Robert E Lee is featured on the 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar.

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In February 2017, the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, voted to remove a sculpture of Robert E Lee, who has no historical link to the city, as well as one of Stonewall Jackson.

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Several other statues and monuments to Robert E Lee were removed in the aftermath of the incident, including:.

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Robert E Lee ignored the postwar testimony of Lee's former slave Wesley Norris about the brutal treatment to which he had been subjected.

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Thomas L Connelly's The Marble Man: Robert E Lee and His Image in American Society was an iconoclastic revision of Lee's mythical status in the South.

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Robert E Lee is played by Martin Sheen in the former and by Lee's descendant Robert Duvall in the latter.

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Robert E Lee is portrayed as a hero in the historical children's novel Robert E Lee and Grant at Appomattox by MacKinlay Kantor.

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Robert E Lee is an obvious subject for American Civil War alternate histories.

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Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee, MacKinlay Kantor's If the South Had Won the Civil War, and Harry Turtledove's The Guns of the South, all have Lee ending up as president of a victorious Confederacy and freeing the slaves.

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Robert E Lee is the prime character of Turtledove's "Lee at the Alamo".

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Turtledove's "War Between the Provinces" series is an allegory of the Civil War told in the language of fairy tales, with Robert E Lee appearing as a knight named "Duke Edward of Arlington".

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