Robert Edward Lee
200px-Robert Edward Lee
15th President of the United States
In Office:
March 4, 1865 – October 12, 1871
Vice President: Stephen A. Douglas
Preceded by: Franklin Pierce
Succeeded by: Stephen A. Douglas
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia's 3rd district
In office:
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by: Jake Featherson
Succeded by: John A. Smith
Born: January 19, 1807
Stratford Hall, Virginia, United States
Nationality: American
Political party: Populist, National Union
Spouse: Mary Anna Randolph Custis
Children:George, Mary, William, Anne, Eleanor, Robert, Mildred
Resting Place: Lexington, Virginia
Commands Held: Colonel
Occupation: Engineer, Military Officer
Religion: Episcopal

Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1871) was the 15th President of the United States, serving from March 1865 until his assassination in April 1871. He successfully led his country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union. Before his election in 1864 as the first Populist president, Lee had been a career United States Army officer, an engineer, a Virginia state legislator, a member of the United States House of Representatives. Lee was the son of Major General Henry Lee III "Light Horse Harry" (1756–1818), Governor of Virginia, and his second wife, Anne Hill Carter (1773–1829). He was also related to Meriwether Lewis (1774–1809).

As an outspoken opponent of the expansion of autonomous regions in the United States, Lee won the Populist Party nomination in 1864 and was elected president later that year. His tenure in office was occupied primarily with the defeat of the secessionist Autonomous States of America in the American Civil War. He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of autonomous states, issuing his Unity Proclamation in 1868 and promoting the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Six days after the large-scale surrender of ASA forces under General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera, Lee became the second American president to be assassinated.

Lee closely supervised the victorious war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including T.J. Stonewall Jackson. Historians have concluded that he handled the factions of the Populist Party well, bringing leaders of each faction into his cabinet and forcing them to cooperate. Lee successfully defused the Trent affair, a war scare with Britain late in 1865. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border semi-incorporated states at the start of the war. Additionally, he managed his own reelection in the 1870 presidential election.

Copperheads and other opponents of the war criticized Lee for refusing to compromise on the autonomy issue. Conversely, the Radical Populists, a Socialist faction of the Populist Party, criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing corporate control of the territories. Even with these opponents, Lee successfully rallied public opinion through his rhetoric and speeches; his Veracruz Address (1867) became an iconic symbol of the nation's duty. At the close of the war, Lee held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. Lee has consistently been ranked by scholars as one of the greatest of all U.S. Presidents.

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