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Robert Edward Lee
They say you had to see him to believe that a man so fine could exist. He
was handsome. He was clever. He was brave. He was gentle. He was generous
and charming, noble and modest, admired and beloved. He had never failed at
anything in his upright soldier's life. He was born a winner, this Robert
E. Lee. Except for once. In the greatest contest of his life, in a war
between the South and the North, Robert E. Lee lost (Redmond). Through his
life, Robert E. Lee would prove to be always noble, always a gentleman, and
always capable of overcoming the challenge lying before him.
Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807 (Compton's). He was born
into one of Virginia's most respected families. The Lee family had moved to
America during the mid 1600's. Some genealogist can trace the Lee's roots
back to William the Conqueror. Two members of the Lee family had signed the
Declaration of Independence, Richard Lee and Francis Lightfoot. Charles Lee
had served as attorney General under the Washington administration while
Richard Bland Lee, had become one of Virginia's leading Federalists.
Needless to say, the Lees were an American Political dynasty (Nash 242).
Lee's father was General Henry Light-Horse Harry Lee. He had been a
heroic cavalry leader in the American Revolution. He married his cousin
Matilda. They had four children, but Matilda died in 1790. On her death bed
she added insult to injury upon Henry Lee by leaving her estate to her
children. She feared Henry would squander the family fortune. He was well
known for poor investments and schemes that had depleted his own family's
fortune (Connelly 5).
Henry Lee solved his financial problems by marrying Robert's mother Anne
Carter, daughter of one of Virginia's wealthiest men (Nash 242). Henry Lee
eventually spent his family into debt. Their stately mansion, Stratford
Hall, was turned over to Robert's half brother. Anne Lee moved with her
children to a simple brick house in Alexandria. Light Horse Harry was
seldom around. Finally, in 1813 he moved to the West Indies. His self-exile
became permanent, and he was never seen again by his family (Thomas).
Young Robert had other family problems. His mother became very ill. At the
age of twelve he had to shoulder the load of not only being the family's
provider, but also his mother's nurse. When time came for Robert to attend
college, it was obvious his mother could not support him financially. She
was already supporting his older brother at Harvard and three other
children in school. In 1824 he accepted an appointment to the United States
Military Academy. During his time at West Point Lee distinguished himself
as a soldier and a student. Lee graduated with honors in 1829 (Nash 245).
His graduation was dampened by a call to the bedside of his ailing mother.
When he arrived home he found his fifty-four year old mother close to
death. A death caused by struggles and illnesses of her difficult life.
Robert was always close to his mother. He again attended to her needs until
her death. On July 10, 1829, Anne Lee died with Robert, her closest son, at
her side. Forty years later Robert would stand in the same room and say,
It seems but yesterday that his beloved mother died (Connelly 6).
While awaiting his first assignment, Lee frequently visited Arlington, the
estate of George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was the grandson of Martha
Washington and the adopted son of George Washington. After Martha's death
Custis left Mount Vernon and used his inheritance to build Arlington in
1778. Arlington was set on a hill over looking the Potomac river and
Washington D.C. (NPS Arlington House). Custis had only one daughter, Mary
Anna Randolph. Mary had been pampered and petted throughout her life. Lee's
Courtship with Mary soon turned serious, before long they were thinking of
marriage. However, before Robert could propose he was assigned to Cockspur
Robert returned to Arlington in 1830. He and Mary decided to get married.
The two were married on June 30, 1831(Nash 248). Shortly there after the
Lees went to Fort Monroe. Mary was never happy here. She soon went back to
Arlington. Mary hated army life. She would, for the most part, stay at
Arlington throughout the rest of Robert's time in the United States Army.
The fact that he was separated from his family, and that he was slow to
move up in rank, left Lee feeling quite depressed a great deal of ... more
Find essay on Call Of The Wild
Society's Reactions To Walden
When Walden was published during the nineteenth century, the reactions of people were exceedingly different than they are of modern society. These reactions were towards every aspect of Thoreau and altered with every change in time. The foremost reactions toward Henry David Thoreau occurred when he went to live on his own at Walden Pond. As strange as it may seem, some critics think that Thoreaus choice to live at Walden Pond was simply because he was a hermit. However, his sheltered life was the result of his brothers death, which promoted Henry to go to Walden Pond (Life 1). Henry explains in Walden, I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived (Life 1). As anyone may obviously see, Thoreau did not choose a life on the pond simply because he was a hermit. He left his nearby town of Concord for the life at the pond on July 4, 1845, which was Independence Day (Life 1). By leaving for Walden on July 4th Independence Day, Henry would have spent his first full day at Walden Pond on the anniversary of his brothers birthday (Life 1).
Although many believe Henry was a recluse, Henry was no stranger to society while he lived at the pond (Life 1). As he himself said, I had more visitors while I lived in the woods than at any other period in my life; I mean that I had some (Thoreau 119). These visitors Henry had at the pond included both his family and his friends, who he had, frequent dinners with (Life 1).
The reactions of the people during Thoreaus time were very diverse, some were positive while others were negative. John Burroughs was one of the few people who wrote frequently on Thoreau. He points out quite rightly that Thoreau was more interested in natural philosophy than natural science (Harding 87). In later years he forgot that and devoted most of his criticism to pointing out Thoreaus many errors in scientific identification of species, and thus lost the broader concept of Thoreaus work (Hendrick 87). Meanwhile, the reactions of Thoreaus neighbors werent all that bad. In Thoreaus Journal, Thoreau states, How I love the simple reserved countrymen my neighbors who mind their own business and let me alone who never waylaid nor shot at me to my knowledge when I crossed their fields though each one has a gun in his house (Harding 47). It is written that the people who lived around Thoreau thought of him as stoical and indifferent and unsympathetic as a veritable Indian; and how he hunted without trap or gun, and fished without hook or snare (Hendrick 89). A young girl once complained that having taken her to the top of a mountain, he fixed his earnest gaze on a distant point in the landscape and remarked, How fare is it in a bee-line to that spot (Hendrick 119).
In 1862, when Thoreau died, it would have been easy to predict that he and his works would soon be forgotten (Hendrick 154). After his death various friends, including both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Bronson Alcott, borrowed the manuscript volumes of the journal from Thoreaus sister Sophia to read for their own personal pleasure (Torrey vi). Wentworth Higginson, inspired by such a reading, made an effort to have the journal published, but he ran into the determined opposition of Sophia Thoreau who thought it too personal to be opened to the gaze of the general public (Torrey vi). When Higginson attempted to enlist the aid of Judge Hoar, Concords leading citizen, in persuading her otherwise, he met with the withering reply, why should anyone care to have Thoreaus journal put into print (Torrey vi)? Still unmined is a wealth of material on political and social attitudes of the time. The journal is a veritable gold mine with its ore still virtually untouched (Torrey vii). It is now seen that the impression Thoreau made on his friends was the right one; he was not well ... more
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Robert Edward Lee They say you had to see him to believe that a man so fine could exist. He was handsome. He was clever. He was brave. He was gentle. He was generous and charming, noble and modest, admired and beloved. He had never failed at anything in his upright soldier's life. He was born a winner, this Robert E. Lee. Except for once. In the greatest contest of his life, in a war between the South and the North, Robert E. Lee lost (Redmond). Through his life, Robert E. Lee would prove to be ...
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Society\'s Reactions To Walden When Walden was published during the nineteenth century, the reactions of people were exceedingly different than they are of modern society. These reactions were towards every aspect of Thoreau and altered with every change in time. The foremost reactions toward Henry David Thoreau occurred when he went to live on his own at Walden Pond. As strange as it may seem, some critics think that Thoreaus choice to live at Walden Pond was simply because he was a hermit. ...
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