Lee Mansion at Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery is on what was the Robert E. Lee estate. When Lee left to accept a commission with the Confederacy, the Union confiscated the estate under a pretext of back taxes, which they made impossible to pay. A cemetery was placed here to emphasize Lee's role in prosecuting the war and through his efforts, adding to the Union death toll.

Eventually Lee's son accepted a settlement in payment for the estate, for by then it was impractical to return it to the family for its use as a homestead.

The Lee Mansion is preserved and is open for tours. It is best to get tickets early and then wait outside, touring and looking at the cemetery.

Inside the mansion.

An office with a table and a globe.

The Lee family kept slaves here. This is the slave quarters.

20000708-2-17-Arlington-Lee-South-Slave-Quarters-Doorway (79K)

 Image of Selina Gray at the top left and image of Thornton Gray at the top right.  Text: The South Slave Quarters - The Home Of Selina Gray // Selina Gray, a slave, lived here with her husband, Thornton, and their seven children, also slaves.  Selina was the housekeeper, and Mrs. Lee's most trusted servant. When the Lees left their home in May, 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War, Mrs. Lee gave Selina the keys to the house and charged her with the protection of the remaining possessions.  These included numerous heirlooms and relics from George and Martha Washington, known as the 'Washington Treasury'. That same month, when Union Occupation came, Federal Soldiers entered the mansion and stole many valuable items belonging to the Lee family. Worried about the 'Washington Treasury', Selina successfully prevailed upon the Union Commander, Irvin McDowell, to protect it. In January, 1862, everything associated with the Washington family was removed by the army from Arlington and stored in the U.S. patent office in Washington. Fortunately, the army returned many of these items to the house some years after the Civil War. / Selina, her family, and the other five slaves at Arlington, were not always to be in bondage. In his will, their owner, George Custis, freed his slaves five years after his death. George Custis died in October, 1857, which set a deadline of 1862 for all of the Arlington slaves to be free. In Decenber, 1862, Robert E. Lee, Custis' executor, despite wartime difficulties, wrote and sent letters of manumission for each of the slaves. // For more information about African - American history at Arlington, ask the Ranger at the front door of the mansion.

Copyright (C) 2003 by Dick Hodgman.
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Last modified on 2003 July 30

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