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Robert E. Lee

Data de nascimento: 19. Janeiro 1807
Data de falecimento: 12. Outubro 1870

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Robert Edward Lee foi um oficial militar de carreira norte-americano conhecido por ter comandado o Exército da Virgínia do Norte durante a Guerra Civil Americana.

Filho do oficial revolucionário de guerra Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee III, e um oficial de topo da Academia Militar dos Estados Unidos, Robert E. Lee destacou-se como um oficial excepcional, e como pioneiro e sapador, do Exército dos Estados Unidos durante 32 anos. Ao longo destes anos, prestou serviço por todo o país, destacando-se na Guerra Mexicano-Americana, e serviu como Superintendente da Academia Militar.

Quando o estado da Virgínia declarou a sua separação da União em Abril de 1861, Lee decidiu escolher o seu estado-natal, apesar do seu desejo pessoal de o estado se manter intacto, e apesar do facto de o Presidente Abraham Lincoln ter oferecido a Lee o comando do Exército da União. Durante a Guerra Civil, Lee serviu como conselheiro militar sénior do Presidente Jefferson Davis. Depressa ascendeu como estratega astuto e comandante de campo de batalha, vencendo várias batalhas contra exércitos da União muito superiores. As suas capacidades tácticas foram destacadas por muitos historiadores militares. No entanto, a visão estratégica de Lee não era tão boa, e ambas as suas principais ofensivas no Norte, terminaram em derrota.

O general da União Ulysses S. Grant's empreendeu em 1864 e 1865 uma tenaz campanha contra as forças rebeldes no solo da Virgínia. Apesar de ter de ter infligido, e também sofrido, pesadas baixas, Lee não conseguiu reverter o rumo da guerra para o lado sulista. Por fim, render-se-ia a Grant em Appomattox Court House, a 19 de Abril de 1865. Por esta altura, Lee já tinha assumido o comando supremo dos restantes exércitos do Sul; as outras forças confederadas depressa se renderam após a rendição de Lee. Este recusou a proposta de uma rebelião sustentável contra o Norte, e pediu a reconciliação dos dois lados.

Depois da guerra, como Presidente da, actual, Universidade de Washington e Lee, Lee apoiou o programa do Presidente Andrew Johnson de Reconstrução, enquanto se opunha às propostas dos Radicais Democratas de dar o direito de voto aos escravos libertados, e tirar esse direito aos ex-confederados. Pediu-lhes para repensarem a sua posição entre o Norte e o Sul, e a reintegração de antigos confederados na vida política do país. Lee tornou-se o grande herói do Sul, um ícone do pós-guerra da "Lost Cause of the Confederacy" para alguns. Mas a sua popularidade cresceu no Norte, em especial após a sua morte em 1870. Lee permanece uma figura icónica da liderança militar americana.

Citações Robert E. Lee

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„A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others. [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/LEE/gentdef.html "Definition of a Gentleman"], a memorandum found in his papers after his death, as quoted in Lee the American (1912) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 233

„The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others. [http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/LEE/gentdef.html "Definition of a Gentleman"], a memorandum found in his papers after his death, as quoted in Lee the American (1912) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 233

„I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence. [http://www.fair-use.org/robert-e-lee/letter-to-his-wife-on-slavery Letter to his wife, Mary Anne Lee] (27 December 1856)

„My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them; nor in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge; or of the present aspect of affairs; do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. Letter to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Marshall (September 1870)

„The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them; nor in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge; or of the present aspect of affairs; do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. Letter to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Marshall (September 1870)

„The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none. [http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/ Letter to his son], G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).

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„I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration and your name and fame will always be dear to me. Save for defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: Since my interview with you on the 18th I have felt that I ought not longer retain my commission in the Army … It would have been presented at once, but for the struggle, it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life, and all the ability I possessed … I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration and your name and fame will always be dear to me. Save for defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword. Letter to General Winfield Scott (20 April 1861) after turning down an offer by Abraham Lincoln of supreme command of the U.S. Army; as quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1875) by John William Jones, p. 139

„You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right … Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all do not appear to others what you are not. As quoted in Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography (1986) by Robert A. Caro and William Knowlton Zinsser. Also quoted in Truman by David McCullough (1992), p. 44, New York: Simon & Schuster.-

„I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none. [http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/ Letter to his son], G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).

„My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world! I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. … My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men. Letter to his wife on Christmas Day, two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg (25 December 1862).

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„Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none. [http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/ Letter to his son], G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).

„What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world! I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. … My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men. Letter to his wife on Christmas Day, two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg (25 December 1862).

„Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one“

— Robert E. Lee
Context: You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right … Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all do not appear to others what you are not. As quoted in Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography (1986) by Robert A. Caro and William Knowlton Zinsser. Also quoted in Truman by David McCullough (1992), p. 44, New York: Simon & Schuster.-

„I cannot consent to place in the control of others one who cannot control himself.“

— Robert E. Lee
Comment regarding officers who became inebriated, as quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1874) by John William Jones, p. 170

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