Confederate Robert E. Lee: The Evil Hero

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Caste" by Isabel Wilkerson. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

Like this article? Sign up for a free trial here .

Who was Confederate Robert E. Lee? What role did he play in the American Civil War? What was he fighting for?

Confederate Robert E. Lee was an American general who served as the commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He is best known for leading the charge against America to secure the domination of the white race and subjugation of the black race.

Read more about Confederate Robert E. Lee.

Who Was Confederate Robert E. Lee?

Confederate Robert E. Lee was an educated military officer known for his adept strategies and pragmatism. He was also a slaveholder in Virginia, whose abuse of his slaves is well-documented. He served as Confederate general during the four-year Civil War, leading the charge against America to secure the domination of the white race and subjugation of the black race. He is instrumental in the deaths of approximately 750,000 people, a number equivalent to around 7 million people based on today’s national population. 

Lee and the Confederacy lost the war in 1865, and the 13th Amendment officially ended slavery shortly thereafter. But Lee was not prosecuted for treason, and Andrew Johnson, who became president after Lincoln’s assassination, gave most of the Confederate officers amnesty in an attempt to put the bloody war behind them. This lack of punishment allowed these men and their cause to stand as a symbol of passion and pride, rather than the immoral treachery it was. Lee followed his tenure as the leader of the Confederate Army by becoming the president of a Virginia university. After his death in 1870, the university renamed itself after him.  

In addition, the unwillingness of the country to condemn the Confederacy gave Americans the freedom to turn a blind eye to the South’s continued efforts to persecute blacks. Slavery was illegal, but southern states relegated former slaves to sharecroppers and made small grievances, such as loitering or vagrancy, felonies. The Klan and deputized mobs legally brutalized the subordinate caste through public lynchings and abuse. And the Jim Crow laws were successful in promoting segregation across the entire region and country eventually. 

Monuments and memorials celebrating Lee and other Confederate leaders cropped up in southern communities. People who’d survived slavery and their descendants were forced to live in environments that celebrated the behaviors of those who fought to permanently remove their agency. Other locations in the north and west started erecting monuments in Lee’s honor and naming public buildings and spaces after him. The construction of these monuments continued into the 20th century, and the lore of the plight of the Confederacy became supercharged through sympathetic depictions. 

Confederate Robert E. Lee: The Evil Hero

———End of Preview———

Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Isabel Wilkerson's "Caste" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Caste summary :

  • How a racial caste system exists in America today
  • How caste systems around the world are detrimental to everyone
  • How the infrastructure of the racial hierarchy can be traced back hundreds of years

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.