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Friday, January 19, 2007

Robert E. Lee

Today is the 200th anniversary of Robert E. Lee's birthday. Robert E. Lee was the commanding General of the Army of Northern Virgina during the War between the States. He is admired by many, including myself, while others despise him. He is universally recognized as a great military commander, on several occasions overcoming an adversary that was larger and better equipped.

I think it is important to understand that Lee was not fighting to sustain slavery, but the sovereignty of the State of Virginia. He was offered, by President Lincoln, the command of the Army of the United States which he declined on principle. He did not believe it to be in keeping with duty and honor to draw his sword against his native Virginia, who was sure to vote for succession.

The commitment to one's State is a principle that few in our generation understand. In that generation most everyone understood, North and South. It was widely understood in that day that it was the States that brought the Federal government into being and not the other way around. People more clearly understood that the federal government only had the powers enumerated in the Constitution. All other powers and rights were reserved to the States and/or the individual. In fact there is an amendment to the Constitution to that end.

Lee was a formidable adversary on the field of battle. He was magnanimous and humble in defeat. He committed the remaining years of his life to educating the young men of the South, who at that time were in a desperate situation. He was one of the few Confederate leaders who encouraged his fellow Southerners to humbly submit to the demands of the North. He encouraged reconciliation and to bear patiently the humiliation, as the will of God.

Robert E. Lee was a man of principle!
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