Lee Granted Citizenship

from a Washington Associated Press release 23 July 1975

Confederate General Robert E. Lee won congressional approval Tuesday to have his citizenship restored - nearly 110 years after he applied for citizen status following the Union's victory in the War Between the States.

The House passed the citizenship resolution 407 to 10, over objections of several northern Democrats who also wanted it to include amnesty for Vietnam war draft evaders.

The Senate passed the measure unanimously on April 10. It now goes to President Ford, who is expected to sign it.

"If Robert E. Lee is not worthy of being a U.S. citizen, then who is?" Rep. Caldwell Butler, R-Va., asked colleagues.

Butler and other members of Virginia's congressional delegation led the drive to restore Lee's citizenship.

Although Lee applied for amnesty and signed an oath of allegiance to the United States shortly after his surrender in 1865 at Appomattox Court House, his citizenship was never restored.

By some still not understood snafu, Gen. Lee's oath of allegiance never reached President Andrew Johnson," said Rep Herbert E. Harris, D-Va.

Lee's oath was discovered in 1970 among other Civil War documents buried in the National Archives.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., called the Lee resolution "Bicentennial fluff" and said that Lee may not have even wanted his citizenship restored.

One spectator in the gallery took strong exception to Conyers' contention. He is Robert E. Lee IV, the Confederate general's 50-year-old great-grandson.

"He obviously wanted to be back as a citizen of the United States," Lee said.