R0bert E. Lee was an honorable man… White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was not wrong making this observation. Unfortunately, Lee’s honor too often guided him down the wrong paths in life. It was this misguided sense of honor that led him to fight for one of the worst causes in history. Once the conflict was over, Lee behaved admirably in helping the Confederate forces put down their weapons and reenter Union society.
Lee advised his former countrymen-
“It is the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the Country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony…Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling, and bring [your children] up to be Americans.”
As the President of Washington College, Lee often dismissed white students who carried out violence against black residents… and did not tolerate “Lost Cause” propaganda at the school. A professor who regularly criticized US Grant received one of the famous, pointed Lee rebukes:
“Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university.”