Lee: The Gentlemen’s Gentleman
Robert E. Lee was considered by many in the South and even by some in the North to be the epitome of what a gentleman should be. Ulysses S. Grant was the North’s answer to Lee. “They were two strong men, these oddly different generals, and they represented the strengths of two conflicting currents that, through them, had come into final collision” (429). He was even considered to be an aristocrat in many social circles. “Lee embodied the noblest elements of this aristocratic ideal. Through him, the landed nobility justified itself” (430). Lee is considered to be more admirable because he was willing to die for his beliefs, felt a strong obligation to his community, and had a strong family tradition.
For someone to have and maintain a willingness to die for their beliefs is rare in our country nowadays but was very prominent in the mid 1800’s. General Lee was one of the strong willed men of his day. Lee believed “…the notion that the old aristocratic concept might somehow survive and be dominate in American life” (429). He was so enamored with this belief; he willingly left his home to command troops in battles all across the South and even in skirmishes behind Northern lines. He was one of the fiercest battlefield commanders in American history. His men admired his tenacity and fought through rough terrain and even worse weather just because he asked them to press on.
Southerners had a strong sense of community and felt a strong obligation in maintaining their way of life. When they felt that there may be a threat to themselves or community, they are very pragmatic and try to correct that threat as fast as possible. Lee was no different when it came to community and way of life. Lee saw the storm on the horizon and moved quickly to protect his home and lifestyle. “Instinctively, his first loyalty would go to the locality in which that society existed. He would fight to the limit of endurance to defend it,...
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