Robert Edward Lee

West Point graduate, Combat engineer, Tactician, and General


Robert Edward Lee was born January 19, 1807 in Westmoreland County, Virginia to his parents Henry Lee III and Anne Hill Carter. His father was a cavalry officer during the American Revolution and traced his roots as one of the first families in Virginia. In addition to this, his father was governor of Virginia for some time before his good fortunes ended and he died when Robert was 11 but not before losing the family's wealth in bad investment opportunities. Robert and his remaining 5 siblings moved around with their mother until he left for West Point Military Academy at the age of 18. At his time their he distinguished himself as a great tactician and military mind and graduated second in his class without a demerit. His prestige and prowess afforded him a number of positions throughout his military career starting as a Lieutenant Engineer to commanding the Confederate army. All while going through his army career, Lee met and married Mary Anna Custis, the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington. They lived on her father's extensive plantation and had 7 kids together. Their relationship was very strained as Robert's loyalty lay with the army instead of her and he would go long bouts of time without seeing her.


Commanding the Confederate army was not the optimal position that Lee would have wanted in this time period. Lee would have preferred if the war did not happen at all as he loved both the Union and his state, which is where his loyalty lay. President Lincoln even offered him a highly ranking position within the Union army, but Lee refused as he realized that Virginia would soon be succeeding and he could not march upon his own state. The roots that the Lee family had dug throughout their time in the US outweighed his devotion to his state which is why he chose the Confederate command over the Union.


Growing up in the early 19th century gave Lee the opportunity to see all of the issues throughout the U.S. that had been hotly debated since the formation of the country increase the gap between countrymen and allowed for him to see all of these issues come to a head and cause the succession of eleven states. This time period allowed for Lee to make his ideas and values concrete as he knew what he stood for and what he did not. This turned him into a man who stuck with his beliefs and values.

"Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”

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What if Lee would have been alive during the American Revolution?


With his military mind and understanding of warfare, Lee would have been welcomed with open arms to the people in the Americas as his loyalty would have remained with the state that his family had been rooted in since the first settlement of the Americas. His skill in commanding troops would have undoubtedly lead to a quicker end of the war as the Revolution was severely lacking in skilled commanders. His prowess would have most likely challenged George Washington's command of the troops, but as far as getting involved in the political realm of the military, Lee would have stayed as far away as possible as his only want was to serve as an actual soldier. His ideas on some topics would have clashed with many if he had been alive in the time period, mainly slavery. Lee was wholly against slavery and saw it as a detriment to both blacks and whites but believed that God would end slavery when he saw fit, while many in this time period saw slavery as a necessity in order to run the economy.

If I were Robert E. Lee

If I had the same skill set as Robert E. Lee during the American Revolution I would do exactly as I believe he would have done. I would use all of my military prowess and knowledge as a tactician to help gain freedom for the colonies from British rule by effectively fighting the British. Also like Lee, I would avoid the political spotlight of the newly forming country and just do my best with the skills given to me in warfare instead of politics.
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"Robert E. Lee" Stewart Sifakis

The recollection of Robert E. Lee's life after the war bring make many things about the man apparent. By being an outstanding member of the community with which he was a part of, being a role model for ex-Confederates, and refusing prosperous opportunities for the presidency of a college for no gain to himself concreted Lee's position even further within the pages of history(periodic sentence). Driven by his devotion to country and state, Lee was able to remain a steadfast member of society instead of falling to disgrace for past actions (participial phrase). The author points out how Lee wanted to help retain the fragile unity that had be won through a war that saw the deaths of hundreds of thousands of American in any way possible, and he saw the best way to do this was by conforming to the rules and restrictions set forth by the government. Despite his efforts, Lee died without becoming a citizen of the U.S. again as his restoration of citizenship was lost until the 1970's when his citizenship was restored.

As an activist

Lee's cause was the protection and continuation of his home state, Virginia, regardless of the enemy. His involvement in this cause stemmed from the very real threat of invasion from the North, and his motivation for joining such a movement was the deep roots that his family had within the state. His involvement in the cause gained it considerable credibility as his military record was spotless and his military mind was sought after by both sides, but his efforts also kept the Northern army at bay for as long as possible. Lee used his military leadership abilities and the Confederate army to further the continuation and protection of his home state. Lee gave up his home life as well as a comfortable life style in order to continue his efforts to protect his home. He would have adopted the cause of obtaining freedom for his home and the men and women living around him from British rule

Works Cited

"Robert E. Lee", Stewart Sifakis, 11 April 2003. Web. 8 Mar 2015.
"Gods and Generals" Jeff Shaara. The Ballantine Publishing Group, New York. 1996
"Robert E. Lee", 18 Nov 2008. Web. 8 Mar 2015