by Courtney Danforth, Alex Lesman, and AS@UVA

On June 15, 1934, the United States House of Representatives passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 45, officially accepting the donation of two statues from the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was the final act --almost an afterthought -- of a process that had begun over one hundred years before. In 1864, Congress had decided to fill the Old Hall of the House with statues of great Americans, two from each state. In 1903, after decades of apathy toward the idea, the Virginia legislature resolved to commission statues of George Washington and Robert E. Lee to send to the Capitol. The bronze likenesses of the two generals were presented (though not officially accepted) in 1909.

Robert E. Lee has been lauded by different groups for the same reasons; Lee has the qualities of: devotion, humility, self-sacrifice, reserve, gentlemanliness, Christian character, acceptance of defeat, moderation . . . His status as an icon has developed over time in three major groups-Virginians, Southerners, and Americans.