He grew to adulthood during a time when slavery was legal and practiced within both Northern and Southern states.
His father was an aide to Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War.
His family roots ran deep in Virginia just as those of President Washington. He was the only cadet to ever graduate West Point without a demerit. He eventually served as superintendent there.
He was a hero during the war with Mexico. Gen. Winfield Scott said he was the most distinguished officer at that time in history within the U.S. Army. He was appointed by President Buchanan to stop John Brown’s dangerous uprising at Harpers Ferry in Oct., 1859.
When the “War Between the States” broke out in spring 1861, President Lincoln informed Gen. Scott he wanted one particular person to be his commanding general in the war against the newly formed Confederate States of America (C.S.A.). This individual turned Lincoln down, having made the mentally anguished decision to resign his commission in the U.S. Army and side with his native state of Virginia – part of the C.S.A. – during the coming conflict.
Lately, this individual has been called “racist” and a “traitor” by those who have failed to do the proper historical research into accepted norms at the time and what individual states had the legal right to do under the laws in place.
The individual President Lincoln wanted to command his troops would eventually become one of the most historically admired persons even throughout the North at the conclusion of the war.
What was Lincoln thinking? He knew this individual had family slaves. But Lincoln, by his own marriage to Mary Todd, had married into a prominent slaveholding family himself. That aside, Lincoln wanted someone for whom he had admiration as a proven, principled leader and great military strategist.
Yes, Lincoln was turned down by this individual but still admired him as a person and what he stood for.
This individual’s reputation lives in the pages of history untarnished. The reputation of one of America’s greatest that Lincoln originally turned to: Robert E. Lee.
Robert G. Gossett