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Today in Virginia’s History

Robert E. LeeAt Left: Robert Edward Lee, as a U.S. Army Colonel before the Civil War. Moore, Frank, ed. Portrait Gallery of the War. New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1865.

Robert Edward Lee, the commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies, was born in Stratford, Virginia on 19 January 1807, the fifth child born to Revolutionary War Hero Henry Lee (“Light Horse Harry”) and Anne Carter Hill. Lee was born at Stratford Hall Plantation, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. His great-great maternal grandfather was Robert “King” Carter, the wealthiest man in the colonies when he died in 1732. But, Lee’s father died when he was age eleven, leaving the family deeply in debt. The family lost their home to creditors and Lee grew up in a series of houses in Alexandria, Virginia. He attended Alexandria Academy, where he was considered a top student and excelled at mathematics. His mother, a devout Christian, oversaw his religious instruction at Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Read more about Lee at the “From Revolution to Reconstruction” website.

Poe HouseAt Right: Old Stone House in Richmond in 1865 that now houses the Poe Museum.

Edgar Allen Poe was also born this day in 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts. Orphaned at age two, Poe grew up in the Richmond, Virginia home of a childless couple, merchant John Allan and his wife Frances. His foster parents treated him with affection and provided him with an excellent education at schools in England and in Virginia. Allan recognized Poe’s intellectual promise and sought to assist him further, enrolling him in the University of Virginia in February 1826. Read more at The Library of Congress.

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