Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807- October 12, 1880) was a Confederate general and the 3rd President of the Confederate States of America.
Elevated to the status of a national hero, after leading the Confederates to victory during the War of Secession, was not a role that Lee immediately embraced; soon after the war he resigned from the military and returned to his Virginia plantation; however, frustrated with the direction the newly formed country was moving in, Lee decided to use his influence as a national hero for the betterment of the country, leading to the formation of the Whig Party in 1869. In 1872 after some prodding from family, friends, and fellow Whigs, Lee announced his candidacy for presidency. In 1873, the aging Lee found himself in a hard fought presidential contest with Democratic Party presidential nominee Andrew Johnson. At the end, the race proved to be too close to call and was ultimately decided by the House of Representatives, resulting in a victory for Lee.
As president, Lee introduced legislation calling for the gradual abolition of slavery, as well as rapid industrialization, and a stronger central government, efforts that were met with relative success; however, despite freeing his own slaves, it wouldn't be until 1903 that the Confederacy passed the 8th Amendment, officially outlawing slavery. Lee's ability to unite a country at crucial times during its early years as well as his efforts to modernize a primarily agrarian society have been praised by many historians. Lee is consistently ranked by scholars as one of the Confederacy's greatest Presidents.
Lee died of a stroke at his home in Virginia in April of 1880, living just long enough to finish out his term and see his Vice President, Judah P. Benjamin sworn into office.
After an attempt to purchase the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Sonora was refused by Emperor Maximilian, tensions between Mexico and the C.S.A. quickly began to deteriorate. Although many in Congress, convinced that it was the Confederacy's destiny to expand, urged President Lee to pursue war with the Mexicans, Lee opposed the idea and fought hard to stay away from war; however, he did support William Walker's, secession efforts and after Walker and the URNGHC declared war on Mexico in 1879, reluctantly Lee and the Confederacy quickly followed suit. Despite not wanting to hand a war over to a new President, but feeling he had no choice but to support his ally, On May 14, 1879 Lee issued a formal declaration of war against Mexico.