Conquering Defeat Reveals Chivalry More Surely Than Conquering Victory

August 25, 2016

Robert E. Lee in 1870.

Robert E. Lee in 1870.

After the [Civil] war [Robert E. Lee] became president of Washington College. He had found the new duty. “I have led so many of the young men of Virginia to battle and to death,” he said, “Now, I would like to give the remainder of my life to teaching them how to live.”

Lee sitting, photographed in 1865

For this purpose, [Robert E. Lee] gave up his dream of a “little home in the woods;” for this purpose, he put behind him his grief, bent himself once more to the high task of making citizens. He obligated himself to the loyalties of the old flag, by example and precent he tried to ameliorate the bitterness. To one who claimed to be a minister of religion, who vented his bitterness against their Northern foes in his presence [Robert E. Lee] said: “Doctor, there is a good old book which I read and you preach from, which says ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.’ Do you think your remarks this evening were quite in the spirit of that teaching? I have fought against the people of the North because I believed that they were seeking to wrest from us our rights, but I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings. I have never seen the day that I did not pray for them.”


“Civilization’s Problem Is The Problem Of Peace.  The Passing of the Sword is Cornerstone of Magnificent.  Lecture by Jenkin Lloyd Jones of Abraham Lincoln Center upon the South Lauds Hero, Robert E. Lee, the Man Who Conquered Defeat,” in Arizona Republican, March 25, 1914.


Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 539




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