The purpose of this paper is to discuss and analyze the moral beliefs of General Robert E. Lee, with special emphasis on his concern for the education of the young people of the south and his love and concern for his family, including during the Civil War.
From the day that General Robert E. Lee left the army to become once again a private citizen he believed that it was the duty of the southern people to rebuild their homes and churches, and the duty of the nation to unite in a spirit of cooperation to put the Civil War behind them and seek a just and lasting peace.
Although he was offered large salaries many times to leave the state of Virginia, he declined all offers and elected to stay and take a position as an educator. The college walls at Lexington were still standing, but that was about all. There was only a faint flicker of life anywhere, and there were only a few people left with connections to the school. However, despite this fact, Lee elected to become President of Washington College and his example made hard work much easier for everyone (Wells, 1950, pp. 186-188).
Because of Lee's connection with the school, the trustees waged a very active campaign to raise funds, using the General's name as an enticement to the few wealthy Southerners left, to give funds (Freeman, 1935, Vol. IV, p. 1030).
Lee's ultimate goal, it seems, was to make the college more useful to the country. In addition to courses intended for cultural education, the General wanted students to receive an education in the practical and applied arts -- those areas in which students could actually do work which they could use in a career. Hundreds of young men attended the college simply because General Lee was there. Not only were southern youth attracted to the college, but northern boys as well (Connelly, 1977, p. 121).
Lee also believed that general education of the public at large was very important to the rebuilding of the nat...