Springtime in the Smokies

Monday, May 24, 2010

Robert E. Lee's Definition of a Gentleman



"T
he forbearing use of power
does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman.
The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly -- the forbearing or inoffensive use of all of this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light.

The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled when he cannot help humbling others.
"

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

excellent

Anonymous said...

are you a fraternity man?

Hayley Mills said...

Someone should forward this to Will Folks!

Daniel J. Cassidy said...

Unfortunately, my university does not have fraternities. But had that been an option, I cannot think of a better model than that chosen by the Kappa Alpha Order in General Robert E. Lee.

Anonymous said...

Some extol Lee for a man of duty and Christian virtue. But he forsook that duty when he broke his oath to the Constitution and rebelled against the flag that educated and supported his livelihood. He joined a government dedicated to the subjugation of a people, yet valued them as property, not humans.

At some point, we must hold people accountable for their choices and realize that we cannot be so selective in our praise for a man's virtuous qualities while ignoring his propensity for perpetuating the suffering of others.

How soon would the war have ended and how many lives would have been spared if this man alone had remained loyal and true to his oath? How many of the KKK were bred under the influence that this racist war to preserve slavery was condoned by God and justified by Lee's seeming Christian posture?

One cannot deny that Lee was a leader, but his ethics certainly beg scrutiny.

D.Thompson, Cuba, NM

Andy said...

Dear Mr. Thompson,

I am not sure which history books you have read, but I have yet to encounter any scholarly publications that would substantiate your assertions.

Lee believed he had a greater duty to his home than to a short lived political system. That being said, he did not make his decision lightly to take arms against the very government that he had fought valiantly to further the interests of the United States in the Mexican-American war. Yes, he was educated at West Point and believed in the United States and Virginia's secession was against his personal wishes. His personal preference would have been to fight for the Union yet he could not escape the suppressive force that duty thrust upon him not of his own volition.

Slavery did not play a role in Lee's choice to join the Confederacy, slavery as it existed was not threatened until after the war had commenced. The slave states had different interests than the free states by nature of their economic structures and the biggest points of contention were the slave stati of Western states and resultant power shifts.

Lee treated slaves far more magnanimously than most of his contemporaries and the moral fortitude of an individual can only be assessed in the light of the society that produced him. It would be absurd to think that in order for Lee to be a good man that he should b a die hard abolitionist.