Robert lee and george washington relationship


robert lee and george washington relationship

Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee (October 1, – November 5, ) was the great-granddaughter of Martha Custis Washington and wife of Robert E. Lee, 1 Biography; 2 Marriage and family. Ancestry Robert E. Lee became president of the Washington College, later renamed Washington and Lee University. It was the home of George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Great-grand-daughter of Martha Washington, Mary Custis and Lt. Robert E. Lee, her distant cousin and The marriage united two of Virginia's “first families.” Lee . Genealogy chart showing how General Robert E. Lee (Confederate Army - U.S. Civil War) is the 3rd cousin 2 times removed to George Washington (1st U.S.

But he was actually reading a biography of George Washington as the Union comes apart. And as he's reading this biography, he concludes that the founding fathers themselves would have opposed secession. But then he gets this offer. He gets called to Washington by an emissary for Abraham Lincoln, who says the country looks to you as the representative of the Washington family to save the Union.

And Lee turns downs this command because, as much as he loves the Union, he can't imagine going to war against his native state of Virginia. So, the premise then is that here's this great man who was considered a great hero for the Confederacy in the Civil War. When the moment came for a decision that would matter, he made the wrong one. That's very much what happened.

He forever cast his fate against George Washington's greatest legacy, the Union, and that's ultimately what made me want to write the story, is that tragic tension in Lee's life, how a soldier so associated with George Washington goes to war against George Washington's greatest legacy, the Union.

And he continued to be conflicted about it. You write about what he went through in the period after that. And what's amazing is after the war, he actually revises his views and he starts saying, maybe the founding fathers hadn't been opposed to secession. And he does try revisit what happened.

robert lee and george washington relationship

He really is tortured. There are lots of descriptions of him with very sad looks on his face riding his horse after the war and people wondering, what is he thinking?


You also write, Jonathan Horn, about what he thought about slavery. He wasn't comfortable with it, but he did in the end defended it. You even tell a really remarkable story.

You quote someone as describing a scene where he himself whipped a female slave who had tried to escape, when one of his employees said he couldn't do it. And that's one of the most controversial moments in Robert E. We don't know exactly what happened there.

He denied that story.

Exploring Robert E. Lee’s connections to George Washington | PBS NewsHour

But what is so interesting is, what most entangled Robert E. Lee in the institution of slavery — because he really didn't want to be involved with it. He wanted to stay away from it. But we shouldn't make the mistake of thinking he was an abolitionist. But what happened is, his father-in-law, who was George Washington's adopted son, dies and leaves a will naming Robert E. Lee as executor of estates. And those estates actually include slaves who have descended from Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.

robert lee and george washington relationship

So on the eve of the Civil War, Robert E. Lee is managing slaves who have direct connections to the father of our country. You write not only about the decision that he made to join the Confederacy, but about decisions he made as a general. He has a reputation as a brilliant general. It's the reason that both the North and the South went after him. But, in the end, when you look at the decisions he made as a general, was he a great general?

He was a brilliant military mind. And what's so interesting about Lee is, we have this impression of him always taking the initiative in battle, even though his forces were outmanned and outgunned. With the advent of the American Civil WarRobert and their sons were called to service in Virginia.

Early that month, Robert wrote to his wife saying: War is inevitable, and there is no telling when it will burst around you You have to move and make arrangements to go to some point of safety which you must select. The Mount Vernon plate and pictures ought to be secured.

Mary Anna Custis Lee

Keep quiet while you remain, and in your preparations May God keep and preserve you and have mercy on all our people. The Union commander, George B. McClellanallowed her passage through the lines in order to take up residence in Richmond—the city which was also McClellan's campaign goal. Lee and her daughters settled at East Franklin Street in Richmond for a time. The family next moved to the plantation estate of the Cocke family at Bremo Bluffwhere they sought refuge until after the end of the war in November Mary Anna Custis Lee visited her beloved Arlington House one last time ina few months before her death.

She was unable to leave her horse carriage due to her debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, hardly recognizing the estate except for a few old oaks and some of the trees that she and Robert had planted. Marriage and family[ edit ] Mary and Robert were married at her parents' home, Arlington House, on June 30, They had three sons and four daughters together: Fitzhugh "Rooney"Robert Edward Jr.