The people's voice of reason

Robert E. Lee: American Patriot

The moral and economic decline of these united States is obvious. In many ways, this country has become unrecognizable. Part of the deterioration can be traced to the inferior quality of officials elected to key positions at all levels of government, combined with their support of radical and often immoral issues. The dearth of ethical individuals in public life may now be worse than at any other time in the life of the republic.

As a student of American history, I am unaware of any American who surpasses the integrity of Robert Edward Lee. It seems Lee inherited the best qualities of his Saxon, Norman, and Celtic ancestors. Unfortunately, in our era, Lee’s integrity and character have become lightning rods of criticism initiated by individuals of antithetical moral character.

Lee was born January 19, 1807, in Stratford Hall, Virginia, and died October 12, 1870, in Lexington, Virginia. The legendary Lee family includes Lee’s father, Henry ‘Lighthorse Harry’ Lee, a famous Revolutionary War general, his cousins, Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee (both signers of the Declaration of Independence), and Alexander Spotswood, Lt. Governor of Virginia. Going even further back, through his mother’s family (the Carters), Lee was descended from Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.

In 1829, Lee graduated second in his class at West Point. He then served loyally for twenty-six years in the U.S. Army. Though an opponent of secession, once Virginia voted to leave the Union he was duty-bound to follow. As peculiar as it may sound in our era, most Southerners thought of their State as their country. They understood the Sovereign States formed the country under compact and created the federal government to handle only specific enumerated duties. The Articles of Confederation spelled out State sovereignty whereas, its replacement, the U.S. Constitution, was ratified with the understanding of this fact.

Although asked by Abe Lincoln and Winfield Scott to command the U.S. Army, Lee could not accept. Lincoln’s request for 75,000 troops from each State to invade the seven seceded States was considered a violation of Article III, Section 3 (Treason) of the U.S. Constitution. No governor or legislature of a seceded State asked for help (Article IV, Section 4, U.S. Constitution). Since the seceding States were simply exercising their right of self-government, there was no valid reason to invade them. Lincoln, a master of sophistry, claimed the seceded States did not literally leave the Union but were merely in “rebellion.” His troop request led Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas to secede from the voluntary compact. Maryland may have seceded as well if she had not been invaded and occupied. Lee’s Christianity (Episcopalian) was well known. His Godly beliefs are manifest in perhaps his most famous quote: “Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less.” Even those in the North understood Lee’s love of Jesus Christ and his devotion to duty. In the 1880s, E. Benjamin Andrews, President of Brown University (Providence, R.I.), noted: “If any American Father were asked which of our great men he would most want his own to resemble, that father, if he were wise, would be compelled to answer, ‘Robert E. Lee.’”

Also, in a January 19, 1907, speech at Washington and Lee University, Charles Francis Adams II of Massachusetts, praised Lee’s patriotism, faith, moral character, and perseverance during 1861-65, stating: “Under similar conditions I would myself have done what Lee did…In fact, I do not see how I, placed as he was placed, could have done otherwise.”

Despite the post-war agony, Lee stated, “I fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South dearest rights, but I have never cherished bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I did not pray for them.” It is difficult to imagine total war advocates such as Lincoln, Sherman, Sheridan, etc., sharing General Lee’s perspective.

As we witness the present-day destruction of history, it is easy to trace these actions to lowest common denominator individuals like Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, who, in a moral era, would likely be dismissed as a subpar political hack. It is obvious Northam has no discernable moral compass (Remember his comments about letting a newborn baby die after it is born if the parents do not want it?). It seems patently clear that he and his minions have more in common with Joseph Stalin than followers of Jesus Christ.

Has there ever been a clearer line of demarcation between those who admire Robert E. Lee, a humble servant of Christ, and those who stand in opposition? The question is—when will those with morality and integrity (like Lee) let their voices be heard?

Sources: Sons of the South by Clayton Rand; Albion’s Seed by David

Hackett Fischer; and Life & Letters of Robert E. Lee by Rev. J.W. Jones, D.D.


Reader Comments(1)

papamike writes:

John, I just finished reading your Robert E. Lee tribute (above), and I felt it took me back over 70 years to my elementary school days when I was first introduced to Lee as a 5th grader. My teacher was Mrs. Annie May Chestnut, probably the best teacher I ever experienced, She presented a 2-3 day unit as part of our intro to American history. I was fascinated, and inspired by the pure goodness of this man, and Mrs Chestnut realized this this and provided me with more books on his life.