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Robert E Lee was born in Stratford Hall near Montross Virginia on January 19 1807 He grew up with a great love of all country life and his state This stayed with him for the rest of his life He was a very serious boy and spent many hours in his fathers library He loved to play with some his friends swim and he loved to hunt Lee looked up to his father and always wanted to know what he was doing George Washington and his father Light-Horse Harry Lee were his heroes He wanted to be just like his father when he grew up In the 1820s the entrance requirements for West Point were not close to as strict as they are now It still was not that easy to become a cadet Robert Lee entered the United States Military Academy at West Point where his classmates admired him for his brilliance leadership and his love for his work He graduated from the academy with high honors in 1829 and he was ranked as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers at the age of 21 Unlike many Southerners Lee did not believe in slavery and did not favor secession He felt that slavery had an evil effect on masters as well as slaves Long before the war he had freed the few slaves whom he had inherited Lee greatly admired George Washington and hated the thought of a divided nation But he came to feel that his state was protecting the very liberty freedom and legal principles for which Washington had fought He was willing to leave the union as Washington had left the British Empire to fight what the South called a second war of independence Lee had great difficulty in deciding whether to stand by his native state or remain with the Union even though Lincoln offered him the field command of the United States Army He wrote
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