January 19 - 1807 - Robert E. Lee's Birthday
For decades, states throughout the American South celebrated January 19 as Robert E. Lee's Birthday as a state holiday. On a surface level, Robert E. Lee is perhaps an odd figure to honor in such a way. As the General of the Army of Northern Virginia for the Confederate States of America, Lee was both a traitor and a loser in the American Civil War. Lee was truly a brilliant general who brought a few great Confederate victories, but he was also the man who turned his back on over 30 years of service to the United States, lost at Antietam and Gettysburg, and surrendered at Appomattox. Still, the South was looking for heroes among the Confederate leadership in the post-Civil War era, lionizing the rebellious goverment founded on the basis of continuing slavery and white supremacy. Lee became the best figure, the gentleman soldier who valiantly fought for the Confederate government and the South, in all that would mean.