Many of my readers who find much of what I have to say about Robert E. Lee to be offensive may be surprised to learn that he is in my mind the second most interesting figure from the Civil War. I’ve read at least 10 major biographies about Lee, including the 3-volume set by Douglas Southall Freeman. It remains my favorite biography of Lee even thought it is dated in certain respects. In the end, however, few know Lee better than Freeman. Discerning readers are no doubt able to distinguish between my thoughts concerning how many have chosen to remember Lee as opposed to those who approach the subject with a sincere interest in analytical history. The bicentennial of Lee’s birth has given us a great deal of fluff, but little serious public history.
An exception to this is the work being done at Washington and Lee University which explores Lee’s role as educator. There are a number of interesting exhibitions, lectures, and publications associated with this project that will surely enrich our understanding of this important period in Lee’s life as well as the life of the college.