Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee wrote a lot of letters to his wife and son during the Civil War. He wrote one to his son that was short, but filled with good principles. Like the Trancendentalists, he had appreciation for freedom, but in a different way than writers like Thoreau.

Thoreau thought the individual's rights were more important than anything else in a government, and that on no account should they every be violated. Robert E. Lee thought that the rights of the states were the most important thing to consider. He wrote that he would defend the rights of any state that was treated unfairly. Unlike Thoreau who thought an individual should be able to step outside the government to protect their rights, Lee thought it would be the worst case scenario for some of the state to try secceding the Union. He respected the country as a whole, collective unit.

A similarity between Robert E. Lee and Emerson is that both valued honor in thier lives. Of course, both men had a different opinion on what constituted honor. Emerson thought it had much to do with holding one's own opinion, no matter what pressure was put on them to change their mind or do something they did not want to. Lee thought honor consisted of being honest and doing the right thing as it appears to the doer ("Robert"). In the latter part he is not very far from most Trancendentalists.

Another similarity between the Trancendentalists and Lee was that neither was at all fond of slavery. Lee said that he would have gone through the entire Civil War all over again just to have it ended ("Robert"). Emerson was a strong defender of John Brown after his raid on Harper's Ferry (Wayne). Yet again, there is a big difference between the two when a deeper look is taken. Emerson did not like slavery because it denied the slaves their freedom, where Lee was opposed to it because it kept the south in a relatively primitave economic state.


Emerson, Ralph. "Self-Reliance." Ralph Waldo Emerson Texts. Web. 15 Feb. 2012. .

Lee, Robert. "Lee's Letter to His Son." Web. 14 Feb. 2012. http://publicroad.wikispaces.com/Lee%27s+Letter+to+His+Son.

"Robert Edward Lee." Web. 14 Feb. 2012. .

Thoreau, Henry. "Thoreau's Civil Disobedience - 1." The Thoreau Reader. Web.

Wayne, Tiffany K., ed. "John Brown and Ralph Waldo Emerson." Critical Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2010. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 14 Feb. 2012. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= CCRWE0159&SingleRecord=True.

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