After the American Civil War, Robert E Lee wanted to live a quiet life away from battle and politics and the public eye but he was too popular a person to be allowed that.  A firm believer in Reconstruction, he took his Amnesty Oath the same day he was inaugurated as president at Washington College.  He stayed the beloved college president from late 1865 to late 1870 when he died.

While at the college he did what he could to meld the two countries the war had created back into one, both politically by supporting policies and people who worked toward the Reconstruction and at the college by recruiting students from the North and expelling white students who attacked black people in the community.  By instituting an honor code similar to the one at West Point and adjusting the courses taught at the college, he turned it into a leading Southern college and they changed the name to the Washington and Lee University after his death.

Although Robert E Lee didn’t believe that blacks had the ability to vote smart at that time, he helped create a number of state run schools for blacks and believed that in a few years they would be ready to help lead this country.

On September 28, 1870 Robert E Lee suffered a stroke and died two weeks later on October 12.  He is buried at the school he died at where he affected so many lives and his children were buried with him as they died.  I was interested to learn that most of his horses were buried with him as well.  To learn more about his horses, check out my Hub on them.

Robert E. Lee worked hard to influence Southerners into a peaceful relationship with the Northerners but he was never given his citizenship back while he was alive and therefore not able to vote.  He signed his Amnesty Oath and applied for citizenship when he became president of Washington College but the politician in Washington, DC gave the application to a friend for a souvenir and the Oath was lost in the archives.  As a result, Lee was the citizen of no country until the Oath was discovered by an archivist and President Ford reinstated Lee’s citizenship in 1975, over a hundred years after his death.  The beloved face of a era, who has memorials throughout the South as well as in the North was finally accepted fully and legally into the country that would always remember the integrity and loyalty of Robert E Lee.

Filed under: American Civil War factsConfederate MenMen of the WarVirginia

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