Robert E Lee’s Birthday is celebrated every year to commemorate the birth of this famous General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States. Born in the month of January, Robert E Lee is considered an important historical figure whose achievements are still remembered throughout America’s southern states.

General Facts About Robert E Lee’s Birthday

Date Type Alternative names National holiday
January 19th or the third Monday in January Historical
  • Robert E Lee Day
  • Lee’s Birthday

The celebration of Robert E Lee’s birth is observed either on January 19th or the third Monday in January. Robert E Lee’s Birthday is a historical holiday that is alternatively known as Robert E Lee Day or Lee’s Birthday. Various states in the South observe Robert E Lee’s Birthday as an official state holiday. However, this celebration is not an officially observed national holiday.

What Is Robert E Lee’s Birthday?

Robert E Lee’s Birthday is celebrated to remember the life and accomplishments of Robert E Lee. In many states, the observance of Lee’s birthday has been combined with Martin Luther King Day. In some cases, this single holiday also incorporates celebration of the life of Andrew Jackson. Very few states actively celebrate Lee’s birthday in modern times. In days past, Robert E Lee’s birthday was seen as a way to honor Southern history and remember the atrocities of the Civil War.

The History of Robert E Lee’s Birthday

The first recorded observance of Robert E Lee’s Birthday was in 1907. Lee himself had died less than four decades before the day of his birth became a holiday. In the American South, he is seen as a central historical figure that many revere as a defender of Southern values. Before becoming the leader of the Confederate Army, Lee had an illustrious career in the United States Army. So well known was Lee’s military prowess that Abraham Lincoln asked him to head the Union Army in 1861.

Though Lee privately opposed the secession of the Southern states, he declined Lincoln’s invitation and promptly resigned from the army. Though Lee eventually went on to lead the army of the Confederate States, he was an active opponent of slavery. Toward the end of the war, he strongly recommended that slaves be inducted into the army and given their freedom. When the South lost the Civil War, Lee rejoiced that slavery was now abolished. He believed that the freeing of the slaves would be good for the South.

To this day, Robert E Lee’s Birthday has immense historical significance not only for those living in the South but for anyone that appreciates the importance of the life and accomplishments of this famous military figure. The epic strategic struggle between Lee and his counterpart in the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant, is considered by many to be one of the most important conflicts in the history of warfare.

The Civil War will always be remembered as the bloodiest war in United States history. It’s estimated that over 600,000 combatants lost their lives. Remembering Lee is a way of paying respect not only to this great general but to all those who participated in this defining moment of the nation’s history.

Robert E Lee’s Birthday Traditions

Robert E Lee’s Birthday is often celebrated in the South in tandem with Secession Day. This is the day that the South seceded from the United States of America. While the celebration is still a historical observance, in many states this holiday in January is also a general celebration of veterans who have fought or died in other American wars.

Observances on this holiday often include family dinners, paying respect to veterans, historical meetings and studies, and public parades in honor of the life of General Lee. These parades are often organized by groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They are sometimes centered around the various monuments and memorials to Robert E Lee found around the country.

Celebrations certainly contain a strong element of homage to the man himself. However, for many celebrants this day also represents an opportunity to remember the values for which the Civil War was fought. Most Southerners remember this war as a testament to the right of self-governance. They view their ancestral rebellion as a testament to the founding principles of the United States.

Summing Up

Celebrated in the first month of every year, Robert E Lee’s Birthday is an opportunity for many in the South to reaffirm their patriotic values and remember a core component of their history. Though this holiday has been mixed in with other celebrations over the years, Robert E Lee Day remains a vital annual opportunity for Southern communities to celebrate their rich heritage and project their cherished ideals forward into the years to come.