In "Letter to His Son" by Robert Lee, how does Lee describe secession? In your own words, explain Lee's argument against secession.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

General Lee's letter to his son is noteworthy because it describes secession as a very mournful process, in stark contrast to the jubilation that many Southerners displayed towards it.  Lee describes secession as disastrous for the country, something he terms as "no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union."  In further his claim by suggesting that secession as "anarchy," Lee suggests that secession goes against the very essence of the vision that the framers had in crafting the nation.  For Lee, secession defies the notion of the "union" that is articulated in the Preamble to the Constitution:

The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it were intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It is intended for perpetual union, so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government (not a compact) which can only be dissolved by revolution, or by the consent of all the people in convention assembled.

For Lee, the argument against secession is rooted in the nation's founding document.  Lee cannot zealously embrace a path that he feels goes against the spirit of the nation's founding and the intent of its architects.  It is in this light where Lee's description of secession, especially in light of the destructive nature of the Civil War, is significant.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question