“The commonly held concept of what constituted the United States of America was much more wide ranging in 1860 than today. Many Americans felt their first loyalty was to their State and not to the Federal government in Washington. Lee was offered command of the Union Army but he resigned his commission and stood with Virginia. Lee’s father fought in the Revolution, and many believed that war was a confederation of individual states against the Crown. In 1860, many Americans saw the coming conflict in the same terms. President Lincoln’s overriding goal was to preserve the Union. The conflict followed. Lee felt he had done as his duty dictated, as did many others on both sides. The war settled the issue of whether the country was one nation, or a confederation of semi-independent states. In the passion of the times, Lincoln was hated by many, and so was Lee. I consider both to be great Americans.”
This statement is reconciling. It is consensus building. It reflects a reasonable and accurate approach to the issue of Lee's dilemma and the war. I learned from it.