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Eisenhower On Lee

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PostPosted:     Post subject: Eisenhower On Lee Reply with quote

(Original documents here. BT )
"Dear Mr. President:

"At the Republican Convention I heard you mention that you have the pictures
of four (4) great Americans in your office, and that included in these is a
picture of Robert E. Lee.

"I do not understand how any American can include Robert E. Lee as a person
to be emulated, and why the President of the United States of America should
do so is certainly beyond me.

"The most outstanding thing that Robert E. Lee did, was to devote his best
efforts to the destruction of the United States Government, and I am sure that
you do not say that a person who tries to destroy our Government is worthy of
being hailed as one of our heroes.

"Will you please tell me just why you hold him in such high esteem?

Sincerely yours,
Leon W. Scott"

Eisenhower's response, written from the White House on August 9, 1960, reads
as follows:

"Dear Dr. Scott:

"Respecting your August 1 inquiry calling attention to my often expressed
admiration for General Robert E. Lee, I would say, first, that we need to
understand that at the time of the War Between the States the issue of Secession
had remained unresolved for more than 70 years. Men of probity, character,
public standing and unquestioned loyalty, both North and South, had disagreed
over this issue as a matter of principle from the day our Constitution was

"General Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted
men produced by our Nation. He believed unswervingly in the Constitutional
validity of his cause which until 1865 was still an arguable question in America;
he was thoughtful yet demanding of his officers and men, forbearing with
captured enemies but ingenious, unrelenting and personally courageous in battle,
and never disheartened by a reverse or obstacle. Through all his many
trials, he remained selfless almost to a fault and unfailing in his belief in God.
Taken altogether, he was noble as a leader and as a man, and unsullied as I
read the pages of our history.

"From deep conviction I simply say this: a nation of men of Lee's calibre
would be unconquerable in spirit and soul. Indeed, to the degree that
present-day American youth will strive to emulate his rare qualities, including his
devotion to this land as revealed in his painstaking efforts to help heal the
nation's wounds once the bitter struggle was over, we, in our own time of
danger in a divided world, will be strengthened and our love of freedom

"Such are the reasons that I proudly display the picture of this great
American on my office wall.

Dwight D. Eisenhower"
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