The Myth And Legend Of Robert E. Lee

Jacki Lyden in for Tom Ashbrook

The myths and legend around Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and why he’s still admired by many on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.

Gen. Robert E. Lee, officer of the Confederate Army, shown March 1864, location unknown. (AP)

Gen. Robert E. Lee, officer of the Confederate Army, shown March 1864, location unknown. (AP)

Robert E. Lee unquestionably became an American Icon after the Civil war was over.

President Ulysses S. Grant lauded him, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said he was “unsullied as he read the pages of history.”

But as the nation stares hard at the sesquicentennial of the War Between the States has the hagiography of some of the battlefield commanders obscured the cause of the war: human bondage?

This hour On Point: Robert E. Lee Revisited.

-Jacki Lyden


James C. Cobb, distinguished Research Professor at the University of Georgia and author of “Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity.” His article, titled “How Did Robert E. Lee Become an Icon?” appears in the current issues of Humanities Magazine.

Natasha Trethewey, a poet and a professor of creative writing at Emory University, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2007 for her collection “Native Guard.”

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