123+ Best Robert E. Lee Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Robert Edward Lee was an American and Confederate soldier, best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army. He commanded the Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until its surrender in 1865. Thought-provoking Robert E. Lee quotes will inspire you to sharpen your thoughts on life, goals and failure.

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Most Famous Robert E. Lee Quotes

In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength. – Robert E. Lee

It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it. – Robert E. Lee

A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today. – Robert E. Lee

I am of the opinion that all who can should vote for the most intelligent, honest, and conscientious men eligible to office, irrespective of former party opinions, who will endeavor to make the new constitutions and the laws passed under them as beneficial as possible to the true interests, prosperity, and liberty of all classes and conditions of the people. – Robert E. Lee

All I ever wanted was a Virginia farm, no end of cream and fresh butter and fried chicken – not one fried chicken, or two, but unlimited fried chicken. – Robert E. Lee

We have fought this fight as long, and as well as we know how. We have been defeated. For us as a Christian people, there is now but one course to pursue. We must accept the situation. – Robert E. Lee

Postal officials say that before Christmas they receive tons of letters written to Santa Claus, but after Christmas how few letters of thanks are sent to him! From childhood onward, human beings seem to be characterized by thanklessness. – Robert E. Lee

Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain. – Robert E. Lee

What a beautiful world God, in His loving kindness to His creatures, has given us! What a shame that men endowed with reason and knowledge of right should mar His gifts. – Robert E. Lee

The education of a man is never completed until he dies. – Robert E. Lee

You must study to be frank with the world: frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do on every occasion and take it for granted that you mean to do right. – Robert E. Lee

Why, it appears that we appointed all of our worst generals to command the armies and we appointed all of our best generals to edit the newspapers. I mean, I found by reading a newspaper that these editor generals saw all of the defects plainly from the start but didn’t tell me until it was too late. I’m willing to yield my place to these best generals and I’ll do my best for the cause by editing a newspaper. – Robert E. Lee

Keep steady in the view of the great principles for which you contend. The safety of your homes and the lives of all you hold dear depend upon your courage and exertions. Let each man resolve to be victorious, and that the right of self government, liberty and peace shall find him a defender. – Robert E. Lee

Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or to keep one. – Robert E. Lee

I think it better to do right, even if we suffer in so doing, than to incur the reproach of our consciences and posterity. – Robert E. Lee

I have thought from the time of the cessation of the hostilities, that silence and patience on the part of the South was the true course; and I think so still. Controversy of all kinds will, in my opinion, only serve to continue excitement and passion, and will prevent the public mind from the acknowledgement and acceptance of the truth. – Robert E. Lee

I did only what my duty demanded. I could have taken no other course without dishonor. – Robert E. Lee

I consider the proper education of our youths one of the most important objects now to be attained and one from which the greatest benefits may be expected. – Robert E. Lee

The time is not come for impartial history. If the truth were told just now, it would not be credited. – Robert E. Lee

There is scarcely anything that is right that we cannot hope to accomplish by labor and perseverance. But the first must be earnest and the second unremitting. – Robert E. Lee

It is history that teaches us to hope. – Robert E. Lee

Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended, and which justified her struggle for those principles. – Robert E. Lee

While we see the Course of the final abolition of human Slavery is onward, & we give it the aid of our prayers & all justifiable means in our power, we must leave the progress as well as the result in his hands who sees the end; who Chooses to work by slow influences; & with whom two thousand years are but as a Single day. – Robert E. Lee

There is a true glory and a true honor: the glory of duty done–the honor of the integrity of principle. – Robert E. Lee

We have only one rule here – to act like a gentleman at all times. – Robert E. Lee

Read history, works of truth, not novels and romances – Robert E. Lee

I am now considered such a monster, that I hesitate to darken with my shadow, the doors of those I love, lest I should bring upon them misfortune. – Robert E. Lee

The biggest mistake of my life was taking a military education. – Robert E. Lee

Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character. – Robert E. Lee

I tremble for my country when I hear of confidence expressed in me. I know too well my weakness, that our only hope is in God. – Robert E. Lee

Get correct views of life and learn to see the world in its true light. It will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good, and, when summoned away, to leave without regret. – Robert E. Lee

No day should be lived unless it was begun with a prayer of thankfulness and an intercession for guidance. – Robert E. Lee

There are things in the Old Book which I may not be able to explain, but I fully accept it as the infallible Word of God and receive its teachings as inspired by the Holy Spirit. – Robert E. Lee

I was too weak to defend, so I attacked – Robert E. Lee

I like whiskey. I always did, and that is why I never drink it. – Robert E. Lee

What a glorious world Almighty God has given us. How thankless and ungrateful we are, and how we labor to mar his gifts. – Robert E. Lee

There is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man’s face and another behind his back. – Robert E. Lee

The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others. – Robert E. Lee

Abandon your animosities and make your sons Americans! – Robert E. Lee

Alabama soldiers, all I ask of you is to keep up with the Texans! – Robert E. Lee

What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world. – Robert E. Lee

Sir, if you ever presume again to speak disrespectfully of General Grant in my presence, either you or I will sever his connection with this university. – Robert E. Lee

You must be careful how you walk and where you go, for there are those following you who will set their feet where yours are set. – Robert E. Lee

I have been up to see the Congress and they do not seem to be able to do anything except to eat peanuts and chew tobacco, while my army is starving. – Robert E. Lee

Marry…into a family that will enable your children to feel proud of both sides of the house. – Robert E. Lee

We must forgive our enemies. I can truly say that not a day has passed since the war began that I have not prayed for them. – Robert E. Lee

A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me. – Robert E. Lee

The dominant party cannot reign forever, and truth and justice will prevail at last. – Robert E. Lee

We poor sinners need to come back from our wanderings to seek pardon through the all-sufficient merits of our Redeemer. And we need to pray earnestly for the power of the Holy Spirit to give us a precious revival in our hearts and among the unconverted. – Robert E. Lee

True patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and the motive which impels them the desire to do right is precisely the same. – Robert E. Lee

Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four million of slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native State? – Robert E. Lee

There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. – Robert E. Lee

A land without memories is a people without liberty. – Robert E. Lee

Remember, we are all one country now. Dismiss from your mind all sectional feeling and bring them up to be Americans. – Robert E. Lee

Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word concern out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice. – Robert E. Lee

So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. – Robert E. Lee

I believe it to be the duty of everyone to unite in the restoration of the country and the reestablishment of peace and harmony. – Robert E. Lee

With all my devotion to the Union, and the feeling of loyalty and duty of an American citizen, I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relative, my children, my home. I have, therefore, resigned my commission in the Army. – Robert E. Lee

I have always observed that wherever you find the negro, everything is going down around him, and wherever you find the white man, you see everything around him improving. – Robert E. Lee

I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself. – Robert E. Lee

It is good that war is so horrible, or we might grow to like it. – Robert E. Lee

All that the South has ever desired was that the Union, as established by our forefathers, should be preserved, and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth. – Robert E. Lee

My experiences of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them nor be indisposed to serve them: nor, in spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or the present aspect of affairs, do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. – Robert E. Lee

The consolidation of the states into one vast empire, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of ruin which has overwhelmed all that preceded it. – Robert E. Lee

The enemy never sees the backs of my Texans! – Robert E. Lee

I can only say that I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation. – Robert E. Lee

Shake off those gloomy feelings. Drive them away. Fix your mind and pleasures upon what is before you. All is bright if you will think it so. All is happy if you will make it so. Do not dream. It is too ideal, too imaginary. Dreaming by day, I mean. Live in the world you inhabit. Look upon things as they are. Take them as you find them. Make the best of them. Turn them to your advantage. – Robert E. Lee

I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings. And have never seen the day when I did not pray for them. – Robert E. Lee

Act with a determination not to be turned aside by thoughts of the past and fears of the future. – Robert E. Lee

They do not know what they say. If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources, and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins. – Robert E. Lee

It’s the loneliest feeling in the world-to find yourself standing up when everybody else is sitting down. To have everybody look at you and say, ‘What’s the matter with him?’ I know. I know what it feels like. Walking down an empty street, listening to the sound of your own footsteps. Shutters closed, blinds drawn, doors locked against you. And you aren’t sure whether you’re walking toward something, or if you’re just walking away. – Robert E. Lee

The war… was an unnecessary condition of affairs and might have been avoided if forbearance and wisdom had been practiced on both sides. – Robert E. Lee

We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing. – Robert E. Lee

A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others. – Robert E. Lee

The trite saying that honesty is the best policy has met with the just criticism that honesty is not policy. The real honest man is honest from conviction of what is right, not from policy. – Robert E. Lee

We must expect reverses, even defeats. They are sent to teach us wisdom and prudence, to call forth greater energies, and to prevent our falling into greater disasters. – Robert E. Lee

My chief concern is to try to be an humble, earnest Christian. – Robert E. Lee

There are very few nearly perfect plays. ‘Streetcar’ is one of them, – Robert E. Lee

He loves his sailors, he loves his Navy, no bones about that, … He never expects anything in return. That’s what I love about him. – Robert E. Lee

Whiskey – I like it, I always did, and that is the reason I never use it. – Robert E. Lee

At present, I am not concerned with results. God’s will ought to be our aim, and I am quite contented that His designs should be accomplished and not mine. – Robert E. Lee

Duty is the sublimest word in the language. You can never do more than your duty. You should never wish to do less. – Robert E. Lee

It would appear that General Hooker has placed his hindquarters where his headquarters should be.(So said by Lee when he learned that General Hooker, the new Union Commander, had written, in a letter to his soldiers, that My headquarters will be ‘in the saddle.’ – Robert E. Lee

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less. – Robert E. Lee

The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. – Robert E. Lee

The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom and forbearance in its formation if it was intended to be broken up by every member. – Robert E. Lee

Any victory would be dear at such a price. – Robert E. Lee

For I consider the character of no man affected by a want of success, provided he has made an honest effort to succeed. – Robert E. Lee

Let us go home and cultivate our virtues. – Robert E. Lee

Such an executive officer the sun never shone on. I have but to show him my design, and I know that it can be done, it will be done…Straight as the needle to the pole he advanced to the execution of my purpose. – Robert E. Lee

Let danger never turn you aside from the pursuit of honor or the service to your country … Know that death is inevitable and the fame of virtue is immortal – Robert E. Lee

No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me… I alone am to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess and valor… could I have foreseen that the attack on the last day would fail, I should certainly have tried some other course… but I do not know what better course I could have pursued. – Robert E. Lee

There is always hazard in military activity, but we must decide between the positive loss of inactivity and the risk of action. – Robert E. Lee

Whither shall I flee? To no country on earth that I know of where there is as much liberty as yet remains to me even in Virginia. – Robert E. Lee

I am as willing to serve now as in the beginning in any capacity and at any post where I can do good. The lower the position, the more suitable to my ability and the more agreeable to my feelings. – Robert E. Lee

We cannot afford to be idle, and though weaker than our opponents in men and military equipments, must endeavor to harass, if we cannot destroy them. – Robert E. Lee

There is nothing left for me to do but to go and see General Grant and I would rather die a thousand deaths. – Robert E. Lee

Life processes take place in an aqueous medium. All organisms are composed mostly of water, whether they dwell in the oceans, lakes, and rivers, or on the land. Because the physical and chemical properties of water are well suited to the requirements of life, it is no accident that life is a water-based phenomenon. – Robert E. Lee

We must enlist our own snake and strike like a cobra against their vitals with an attack on Washington. – Robert E. Lee

The devil’s name is dullness. – Robert E. Lee

I will attack no matter what and win the war! – Robert E. Lee

Every student must be a gentleman. – Robert E. Lee

It is easier to make our wishes conform to our means than to make our means conform to our wishes. – Robert E. Lee

If we do not do this our churches will lighthouses without light, wells without water, dumb witnesses, sleeping watchmen, silent trumpets, messengers without tidings, a comfort for infidels, jubilant joys to the devil, and an offense to God. – Robert E. Lee

A man may manifest and communicate his joy, but he should conceal and smother his grief as much as possible. – Robert E. Lee

Without music, we wouldn’t have an Army. – Robert E. Lee

I believe I may so, looking into my own heart, and speaking as in the presence of God, that I have never know one moment of bitterness or resentment. – Robert E. Lee

Private and public life are subject to the same rules-truth and manliness are two qualities that will carry you through this world much better than policy or tact of expediency or other words that were devised to conceal a deviation from a straight line. – Robert E. Lee

Life Insurance trusts I consider sacred. To hazard the property of the dead & to lose the scanty earnings of fathers & husbands, who have toiled & saved that they may leave something to their families deprived of their care & the support of their labor, is to my mind the worst of crimes. – Robert E. Lee

As a general principle you should not force young men to do their duty but let them do it voluntarily and thereby develop their characters. – Robert E. Lee

We have but one rule here, and that is that every student must be a gentleman. – Robert E. Lee

Live in the world you inhabit. Look upon things as they are. Take them as you find them. Make the best of them. Turn them to your advantage. – Robert E. Lee

We must…submit ourselves in adversity to the will of a merciful God as cheerfully as in prosperity. – Robert E. Lee

My experience through life has convinced me that, while moderation and temperance in all things are commendable and beneficial, abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safeguard of morals and health. – Robert E. Lee

Ideas are easy to conceive, less easy to execute. – Robert E. Lee

You cannot barter manhood for peace. – Robert E. Lee

Say what you mean to do…and take it for granted you mean to do right. Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one…you will wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind. – Robert E. Lee

I endeavored to give thanks to our Heavenly Father for all his mercies to me, for his preservation of me through all the dangers I have passed, and all the blessings which he has bestowed upon me, for I know I fall far short of my obligations – Robert E. Lee

I should NOT be trading on the blood of my men. – Robert E. Lee

Respect is based on Friendship,and friendship is based on love and love is so accidental isn’t it ? – Robert E. Lee

You see what a poor sinner I am, and how unworthy to possess what was given me; for that reason it has been taken away. – Robert E. Lee

My trust is in the mercy and wisdom of a kind Providence, who ordereth all things for our good. – Robert E. Lee

There is a terrible war coming, and these young men who have never seen war cannot wait for it to happen, but I tell you, I wish that I owned every slave in the South, for I would free them all to avoid this war. – Robert E. Lee

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