Frases de Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee Foto
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Robert E. Lee

Fecha de nacimiento: 19. Enero 1807
Fecha de muerte: 12. Octubre 1870

Robert Edward Lee fue un general estadounidense conocido por comandar el Ejército Confederado de Virginia del Norte durante la Guerra de Secesión desde 1862 hasta su rendición en 1865. Hijo de Henry Lee III, oficial durante la Guerra de Independencia de Estados Unidos, Lee se graduó con honores en la academia militar de West Point y fue un destacado oficial e ingeniero militar del ejército de Estados Unidos durante 32 años. En esas tres décadas sirvió por todo su país. Se distinguió durante la Guerra de México-Estados Unidos y actuó como Superintendente en West Point.

Cuando Virginia declaró su secesión de la Unión en abril de 1861, Lee eligió posicionarse con su estado de origen, a pesar de su deseo de que su país permaneciera intacto y de que le ofrecieron un puesto en el alto mando del ejército de la Unión. Durante el primer año de la guerra de Secesión, Lee sirvió como asesor destacado del presidente confederado Jefferson Davis. Una vez que tomó el mando del principal ejército confederado en 1862, enseguida se distinguió como un astuto estratega y comandante en el campo de batalla, venciendo la mayoría de sus batallas y siempre contra ejércitos de la Unión muy superiores. Su previsión estratégica fue más cuestionable y sus dos grandes ofensivas contra territorio de la Unión acabaron en derrotas. Las tácticas agresivas de Lee, que provocaron numerosas bajas entre sus tropas cuando los confederados contaban con menos hombres, han sido criticadas en tiempos recientes. Lee rindió todo su ejército ante el general Ulysses S. Grant en Appomattox el 9 de abril de 1865. Para entonces ya había asumido el mando de todos los ejércitos que le quedaban a los confederados y otras fuerzas sureñas se rindieron poco después. Lee rechazó la propuesta de mantener una insurgencia contra la Unión y llamó a la reconciliación entre ambos bandos.

Después de la guerra Robert E. Lee apoyó el programa de Reconstrucción del presidente Andrew Johnson, al tiempo que se oponía a las propuestas de los Republicanos Radicales para conceder el voto a los esclavos libertos y retirarlo a los antiguos confederados. Entonces les urgió a repensar sobre su posicionamiento entre Norte y Sur y sobre la reinserción de los confederados en la vida política de la nación. Lee pasó a ser considerado el gran héroe confederado y para algunos un icono de posguerra de la llamada «Causa perdida de la Confederación». Su popularidad creció incluso en el norte, especialmente después de su muerte en 1870. Wikipedia

Photo: Julian Vannerson / Public domain

Frases Robert E. Lee

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„The education of a man is never completed until he dies.“

—  Robert E. Lee

As quoted in Peter's Quotations: Ideas for Our Time (1977) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 175

„Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one“

—  Robert E. Lee

As quoted in Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography (1986) by Robert A. Caro and William Knowlton Zinsser. Also quoted in Truman by David McCullough (1992), p. 44, New York: Simon & Schuster.-
Contexto: You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right … Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all do not appear to others what you are not.

„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.“

—  Robert E. Lee

After one of the faculty at Washington College in Virginia (now Washington & Lee University) had spoken insultingly of Ulysses S. Grant, as quoted in Lee the American (1912) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 226

„If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his son http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/, G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).
1860s
Contexto: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none.

„I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Remark to his son, G. W. Custis Lee (March 1865), as quoted in South Atlantic Quarterly [Durham, North Carolina] (July 1927)
1860s

„It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Comment to James Longstreet, on seeing a Union charge repelled in the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 December 1862)
1860s

„Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character.“

—  Robert E. Lee

As quoted in General Robert E. Lee After Appomattox (1922), by Franklin Lafayette Riley, p. 18

„I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration and your name and fame will always be dear to me. Save for defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to General Winfield Scott (20 April 1861) after turning down an offer by Abraham Lincoln of supreme command of the U.S. Army; as quoted in Personal Reminiscences, Anecdotes, and Letters of Gen. Robert E. Lee (1875) by John William Jones, p. 139
1860s
Contexto: Since my interview with you on the 18th I have felt that I ought not longer retain my commission in the Army … It would have been presented at once, but for the struggle, it has cost me to separate myself from a service to which I have devoted all the best years of my life, and all the ability I possessed … I shall carry with me to the grave the most grateful recollections of your kind consideration and your name and fame will always be dear to me. Save for defense of my native state, I never desire again to draw my sword.

„A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.“

—  Robert E. Lee

"Definition of a Gentleman" http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/LEE/gentdef.html, a memorandum found in his papers after his death, as quoted in Lee the American (1912) by Gamaliel Bradford, p. 233
Contexto: The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light.
The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which imparts sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.

„The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his son http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/, G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).
1860s
Contexto: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none.

„Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his son http://radgeek.com/gt/2005/01/03/robert-e-Lee-owned-slaves-and-defended-slavery/, G. W. Custis Lee (23 January 1861).
1860s
Contexto: I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for 'perpetual Union,' so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled. It is idle to talk of secession: anarchy would have been established, and not a government, by Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and all the other patriots of the Revolution. … Still, a Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. I shall mourn for my country and for the welfare and progress of mankind. If the Union is dissolved and the Government disrupted, I shall return to my native State and share the miseries of my people, and, save in defense will draw my sword on none.

„You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage.“

—  Robert E. Lee

As quoted in Extraordinary Lives: The Art and Craft of American Biography (1986) by Robert A. Caro and William Knowlton Zinsser. Also quoted in Truman by David McCullough (1992), p. 44, New York: Simon & Schuster.-
Contexto: You must be frank with the world; frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion, and take it for granted you mean to do right … Never do anything wrong to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so, is dearly purchased at a sacrifice. Deal kindly, but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all do not appear to others what you are not.

„My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his wife on Christmas Day, two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg (25 December 1862).
1860s
Contexto: What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world! I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. … My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

„What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world!“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his wife on Christmas Day, two weeks after the Battle of Fredericksburg (25 December 1862).
1860s
Contexto: What a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world! I pray that, on this day when only peace and good-will are preached to mankind, better thoughts may fill the hearts of our enemies and turn them to peace. … My heart bleeds at the death of every one of our gallant men.

„I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to his wife, Mary Anne Lee http://www.fair-use.org/robert-e-lee/letter-to-his-wife-on-slavery (27 December 1856)
1850s
Contexto: In this enlightened age, there are few I believe, but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution, is a moral & political evil in any Country. It is useless to expatiate on its disadvantages. I think it however a greater evil to the white man than to the black race, & while my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more strong for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, socially & physically. The painful discipline they are undergoing, is necessary for their instruction as a race, & I hope will prepare & lead them to better things. How long their subjugation may be necessary is known & ordered by a wise Merciful Providence.

„My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Marshall (September 1870)
1870s
Contexto: My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them; nor in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge; or of the present aspect of affairs; do I despair of the future.
The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.

„The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.“

—  Robert E. Lee

Letter to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Marshall (September 1870)
1870s
Contexto: My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them or indisposed me to serve them; nor in spite of failures, which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge; or of the present aspect of affairs; do I despair of the future.
The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.

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