Robert E Lee – Quotes 2

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In a letter to his oldest son, written on Sunday, May 4th 1851.

“Hold yourself above every mean action. Be strictly honorable in every act, and be not ashamed to do right. Acknowledge right to be your aim and strive to reach it”.

In a further letter to this son, written on Sunday, December 28th 1851.

“May you have many happy years, all bringing you an increase of virtue and wisdom, all witnessing your prosperity in this life, all bringing you nearer to everlasting happiness hereafter. May God in His great mercy grant me this, my constant prayer”.

Mummymac.

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18 thoughts on “Robert E Lee – Quotes 2

  1. I’ve always liked Robert E. Lee. He was a tremendously godly man. So was Stonewall Jackson. They were men who were known foremost for their faith, and secondarily for their military ability. Thanks for posting the quotes.

  2. Justin: The first quote was written at the time Lee lived in Baltimore, his Son Curstis Lee was at West point. The second quote was also written to the same son though by this stage Lee had moved back to Arlington. The book is mostly letters written by Lee or others observations off him and so the context isn’t always given in much detail. Hope this helps.

    Waltzingaustralia: Thanks for your comments – I think the other thing that astonishes me as I read and reflect on this book is that I just can’t think of men who have this caliber in our day and age.

  3. Thanks Elaine!

    Personally, I never knew these men as great Christian soldiers. I just knew them as soldiers. That’s what you get for being taught American history in a secular school, I guess.

    Also, right now I’m feeling that surge of Yankee spirit in me. See, I have lived in the North my entire life, and as such have been taught the Northern aspect of the Civil War. That being the case, it is hard to wrap my mind around the concept of Lee and Jackson being called “godly men” when it was taught that they, being Southerners, were “evil” because they fought to keep slavery. Although when I read in Wikipedia that Lee might have been opposed to slavery, that sort of changes things. But still, after hearing the teaching, “Slavery is bad. Confederates wanted slavery. Therefore, Confederates bad.” for basically my entire school life, it’s hard to grasp that. Hahaha!

    I don’t know if I’m making any sense at all. Hopefully so.

  4. Justin

    I only know of these men as great Christian Soldiers and have learned the little I know of them from American friends who are Southern 🙂

    I have been encouraged by this book and would recommend that you (like the Berean’s) search these things out for yourself. How sad to not have been taught the full story. I’m wondering if it was better for me to have never been taught it at all than to be taught a one-sided account.

    Regardless as I commented before I am just in the learning stages of American History, have appreciated this mans obvious devotion to God in his letters and I hope to print a few more of his quotes.

    Blessings

    Elaine

  5. Justin

    This quote may also be useful to you:

    In a letter to his wife from Camp Brown, Texas, Saturday, December 27 1856, Lee gave in graphic words his views on slavery:

    “I believe, in this enlightened age, there are few who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa morally, socially and physically. the painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their instruction as a race, and, I hope, will prepare and lead them to better things. How long their subjection may be necessary is known and ordered by a wise and merciful Providence. Their emancipation will sooner result from a mild and melting influence than the storms and contests of fiery controversy. This influence, though slow, is sure.

    The doctrine and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small part of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist! While we see the course of the final abolition of slavery is onward, and we give it the aid of our prayers, and all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in His hands who sees the end and who chooses to work by slow things, and with whom a thousand years are as a single day; although the abolitionist must know this, and must see that he has neither the right nor the power of operating except by moral means and suasion; and if he means well to the slave he must not create angry feelings in the matter. That although he may not approve the mode by which it pleases Providence to accomplish His purposes, the result will never be the same; that the reasons he gives for interference in what he has no concern hold good for every kind of interference with our neighbors when we disapprove their conduct. Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve the freedom of their opinion have always proved themselves intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?”

  6. Elaine,

    “I only know of these men as great Christian Soldiers and have learned the little I know of them from American friends who are Southern.”

    Hahaha! Well, of course the Southerners would shine a good light on Robert E. Lee, he was their hero! 😀

    “I have been encouraged by this book and would recommend that you (like the Berean’s) search these things out for yourself.”

    That’s what I plan to do. Eventually. 🙂 Hahaha! I really enjoy history, but right now I’m reading more about theology.

    You know, I could just wait and get to Heaven, then see if Robert E. Lee is there. That would settle the question indefinitely.

    “How sad to not have been taught the full story.”

    That’s what my history teacher kept saying when we studied the Reconstruction era (post-Civil War). He kept trying to provide a fair historical picture. But, obviously, the North and the South are going to put their own spin on the Civil War.

    “I’m wondering if it was better for me to have never been taught it at all than to be taught a one-sided account.”

    Probably. That way when you do study it, you aren’t studying it with a built-in bias.

    It makes you think about other wars, too. For example, the American Revolutionary War. Britain would certainly teach history differently than America would when it comes to that time period. But people in, let’s say, Asia, would be unbiased when learning about the ARW, because they didn’t really pick a side.

    “In a letter to his wife from Camp Brown, Texas, Saturday, December 27 1856, Lee gave in graphic words his views on slavery.”

    Thanks for the quote. That’s the one I was referring to when I said, “Although when I read in Wikipedia that Lee might have been opposed to slavery, that sort of changes things.”

    I think it is interesting to look at history from a religious aspect, as we’re doing right now. I didn’t get that in school. We weren’t allowed to go into too much detail on what people’s beliefs were. For example, you could say that most abolitionists were Christians, but if you were to get right into it and say, “Well, these abolitionists argued from the Bible thusly…” that would have been frowned upon.

    Ah! Gotta love religious freedom in America!

  7. Unfortunately, Justin’s comments are showing up the inadequacies of history instruction in the U.S. The war did NOT start over slavery. Slavery in fact was dying out. The war was about states’ rights. At that time in history, most states thought of themselves as separate countries, like Europe. In fact, when Lincoln decided, well into the war, to make slavery an issue, Illinois almost pulled out of the war. So don’t let your “Yankee spirit” get too inflated. Folks in the north were fighting to keep the union, not to free the slaves. Emancipation was an election issue half way through the war.

    And another thing most Americans don’t know — the desire of many colonies to outlaw slavery was a contributing factor to the American Revolution. Britain, which supplied almost all of the slaves being bought in the colonies, forbade the colonies from outlawing slavery, because it would hurt the British economy. Now, thanks to William Wilberforce, slavery was actually outlawed in Britain before it was in the U.S., but only shortly before. King George III was adamant about keeping the slave market open in the colonies.

    As for the leader of the Union troops in the Civil War, Grant was an alcoholic whose only strategy was to put a body in front of every bullet the South had. He just had more bodies than the South had bullets — and that’s why the war was so costly, in terms of human life.

    And just so you know, I’m from Chicago. So I’m not saying any of this because I’m a Southerner. I’m saying it because it’s true. (I’m a historian.)

  8. Justin,

    I concur with Waltzing’s assessment (hope you don’t mind me shortening), the war began when South Carolina exercised its legal right to secede from the Union, but the Union didn’t like that idea one bit and attacked at Fort Sumter. Slavery was an issue but perhaps not so much different than the way some people say that oil is an issue in the Gulf War…the South had slaves…Iraq has oil…but were either the cause of the wars..I don’t believe so.

    She is also correct regarding the Revolution and Britains involvement in the slave trade.

    As for Stonewall Jackson I believe he was an extremely faithful Christian, he was of course a Presbyterian and so was much more biblical in his theology than Lee I believe)…R.L. Dabney (perhaps the best Presbyterian theologican ever) was his friend and chaplain during the War Between the States (or the War of Northern Aggression!).

    I like Waltzing’s description of Grant 🙂 but seriously the Confederates were much more orthodox in their Christianity, being mostly a good solid breed of Scots-Irish Presbyterians how could they be anything else! If you have never seen the movie “Of God’s and Generals” rent it…it gives a good picture of the difference in a general way between the North and the Southern armies….you often see the Southern men praying and quoting Scripture and so forth, but the Northern chappies quoting philosophy and classical literature, a generalization but based I believe on fact.

    I think there are amazing similarities between the Cromwellian New Model Army/Puritans and the Confederates versus the Cavaliers and the Northern Armies. Both the Cromwellians and the Southerners have gone down in history as weirdo sectarians, when in fact there were among them many, many godly men and women and both I believe were the true protectors of freedom. Likewise both the Northern Armies and the Cavaliers are reputed as the guardians of freedom, and yet had their fair share of wicked men leading them, to be fair less so in the Yanks that the Cavaliers..the two Charleses were nothing short of reprobates.

    One thing’s for sure the post-war deconstruction of the South was criminal and the repercussions of that are still in evidence today.

    Get down to Lexington, Virgina and pay homage to these two great men Justin!

    JP

  9. WA and JP, yeah, I know all that. Most of the Southern states threatened to secede if Abe Lincoln were elected president, and sure enough, they did when he did.

    Trust me, Mr. Fisher (my history teacher) made sure we knew that slavery was only secondary issues. The Tariff of Abominations (1850, I think) made a lot of Southern states madder than a wet bee-hive. Then you had the nullies crises, were all the Southern states would nullify any tariff that came their way.

    The Compromise of 1850 promised that a harsher slave law would be passed (which it was) but it never got enforced by the executive branch.

    Bleeding Kansas took place right before the Civil War. The Missouri Compromise stated that all states above the Dixie Line would be free states and any below would be slave states.

    But then the problem came with Texas and California when we won the Mexican War. Texas and California were such huge territories that if they became slave, the South would have so much voting power that they could basically control Congress. That’s why Texas became slave and California became free (they thought it would even things out).

    Actually, I prefer state’s rights over national power myself, so in the case of John C. Calhoun, I would have agreed with him.

    WA, thanks for refreshing my memory on some stuff. I didn’t know that slavery contributed to the ARW. I mean, I know that slavery was an issue, because most colonialists felt, “Well, if we’re fighting for our freedom from Britain, why should blacks not have freedom from us?” They especially felt hypocritical because of the Declaration of Independence.

    “As for the leader of the Union troops in the Civil War, Grant was an alcoholic whose only strategy was to put a body in front of every bullet the South had. He just had more bodies than the South had bullets — and that’s why the war was so costly, in terms of human life.”

    Quite true, but I don’t remember President Lincoln complaining about it. In fact, his own words were, “Find out what Grant drinks and send a barrel of it to each of my other generals!”

    Whether Lincoln was serious or not, well, there’s room for debate. 😀

    “And just so you know, I’m from Chicago. So I’m not saying any of this because I’m a Southerner. I’m saying it because it’s true.”

    Hakuna matata.

    JP,

    “South Carolina exercised its legal right to secede from the Union, but the Union didn’t like that idea one bit and attacked at Fort Sumter.”

    Actually, that’s not the case about Fort Sumter at all. Fort Sumter was a Union military base that was being held “captive” by the South because it was in the South. The South wouldn’t let the troops go, and the supplies were dwindling down fast. President Lincoln didn’t want to start fighting, only to get his men some food. However, the South opened fire on the ship that was transporting the food. So actually, it was the Confederacy that attacked at Fort Sumter.

    “some people say that oil is an issue in the Gulf War…the South had slaves…Iraq has oil…but were either the cause of the wars..I don’t believe so.”

    What about the Iraqi War right now? It is funny (sort of) to notice that President Bush had titled it, “Operation Iraqi Liberation.” O.I.L. And then, at a later point, he changed the titled to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    “She is also correct regarding the Revolution and Britains involvement in the slave trade.”

    Right. It was called the Atlantic slave trade. Britain would go to Africa, capture or purchase some slaves, bring them back to England, and then sell them to the colonies. The trade didn’t cease in America until 1807, but slavery, of course, was still permitted.

    “One thing’s for sure the post-war deconstruction of the South was criminal and the repercussions of that are still in evidence today.”

    A large part of that was due to Sherman’s March to the Sea. The railroads were a bust trying to redo the damage he had done. And since the South didn’t have many railroads to begin with, it sort of made it difficult to pick up a new trade. With the disestablishment of the slave system, cotton was a terrible product to make. Well, that and also because the largest buyer (Egypt) started to make their own cotton and sell it to England, so now the foreign economy went down the drain.

    “in fact there were among them many, many godly men and women and both I believe were the true protectors of freedom.”

    Well, what kind of freedom are we talking here? Because, I agree, the War was started and mainly fought over state freedom from national government, but we can’t exclude the fact that black slavery did later become an issue. The South didn’t want to get rid of slaves because, without them, plantations went caput. Granted, there were a few men and women in the South who disagreed with slavery, but the majority by and large was in favor of it. If I recall, it wasn’t aliens that formed the KKK.

    ~~~

    😀 I love history! You never would have heard me say those words in ninth grade, but tenth grade worked some sort of miracle because history is probably my most favorite class.

  10. The KKK by no means represented the majority in the South, either before or after the war. Less than 1/3 of the people in the South owned slaves, and many disagreed with slavery. There is always a danger when one lumps everyone into the same group. When you say “The South” didn’t want to get rid of slaves, that’s like saying “Americans only eat at McDonalds.” And slavery was dying out because mechanization (such as the cotton gin). Sure, some wealthy, powerful people with slaves really wanted to keep slavery going, but it was no where near the majority.

  11. I also want to make sure you know, Justin, that the comment about inadequate history instruction was meant only as a comment about education at present, not about your own knowledge. I have worked in educational publishing for 25 years, and I am often stunned by things I see sliding — and by stuff I learn that we’re beginning to correct. (Though I’m not sure the correction is as great as the sliding.)

    An example of correction is that, for many years it was common to teach that people in Columbus’s day thought the earth was flat. No one in Europe thought the earth was flat. Not only did they know it was round, they knew the circumference. Columbus, however, had studied with Arab astronomers, and the Arabs thought the earth was much smaller. So Columbus thought Asia was only 3,000 miles away. So Columbus was actually wrong, and he would have died had the Americas not appeared right where he thought Asia would be. When confronted with the facts and asked why they had taught the flat-earth concept, the big teachers’ unions replied that “it was easier to teach.” I suspect that they also wanted to make the “dead white Europeans” look stupid, a common trend in current academic thought.

  12. Please, don’t worry, I never got that interpretation from you. The only thing I felt, not offended, but saddened, about was when you made the comment concerning education. I know that my history teacher taught me the corrections you are seeking to make, but my memory just doesn’t hold onto that much. Mr. Fisher (my teacher) passed the AP US History exam with a 5/5 and with honors and distinction, and when I make mistakes concerning history, it makes him look like a bad teacher when that is not the case at all. He is a great teacher (probably the only reason why I love history), I’m just not a great student.

  13. Don’t be sad, Justin. My opinion was not a reflection of your teacher, but rather the effects of 25 years in educational publishing, working with school boards and teachers’ unions. There are many wonderful teachers out there, and I’m glad your Mr. Fisher is one of them. However, there are also a lot of really poorly educated or uncaring teachers, and sometimes teachers who are simply board or who hate their jobs, and I’m sure we’ve all experienced at least a few teachers who were unpleasant. I’m very pleased, however, to learn that there is a teacher out there who is exciting students about a subject, rather than turning them away. Thank God for the Mr. Fishers in our lives.

  14. If I remember correctly, it had little to do with constitutionality and more to do with “fairness.” She was unhappy because big business put her father, the owner of a small oil company, out of business. The idea of forming deals with the railroads so that the railroads got all their oil from one place and therefore got a big discount hurt all the little companies. Of course, we now consider this standard business practice — I don’t know any major corporation that doesn’t have “preferred vendors” with better prices. But there were not a lot of giant corporations in Tarbell’s day, so the impact was far more stunning, as most of the country was little companies. However, even today, it is not legal for companies to create “trusts” or monopolies that control the market, as evidenced by the lawsuits against MicroSoft. But this isn’t because of the constitution, it’s because of the Anti-Trust laws passed during the era of the Progressives.

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