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Robert E Lee's Birthday in the United States

Robert E. Lee’s birthday, also known as Robert E. Lee Day, is a state holiday in some parts of the United States. In some states it is an annual shared state holiday with Martin Luther King’s birthday on the third Monday of January.

Is Robert E Lee's Birthday a Public Holiday?

Robert E Lee's Birthday is a public holiday in 4 states, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Robert E. Lee (statue pictured above) is remembered on the third Monday of January.
Robert E. Lee (statue pictured above) is remembered on the third Monday of January.
©iStockphoto.com/DoxaDigital

What Do People Do?

Robert E. Lee’s birthday is celebrated by many Americans every year. Events may include: marches, parades, wreath laying ceremonies and musket salutes. Many publications run editorial notes to commemorate Robert E. Lee’s achievements on or around the holiday. It is also customary for some state governors to proclaim the holiday to the general public.

Robert E. Lee’s birthday may not be an official public holiday in all states but there are many people who remember his life and achievements on either the third Monday of January or January 19, which is his actual birthday. Lee-Jackson Day is a state holiday in Virginia on the Friday before Martin Luther King Day to honor both Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Robert E. Lee is also remembered as part of Confederate Memorial Day, also known as Confederate Heroes Day, which falls in different times of the year, depending on the states.

Public Life

Robert E Lee's birthday is a state holiday in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Mississippi. It is a legal day but it is not a paid holiday for state branches or agencies in Florida. Some states combine the holiday with Martin Luther King’s birthday, but state holiday regulations may change over the years.

Background

Robert E. Lee was a commander of the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861–1865). He was born in Stratford, Virginia, on January 19, 1807. His father was known as “Light Horse Harry Lee”, a Revolutionary War hero. Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class at West Point, earning no demerits for discipline infractions during his year there.

Robert E. Lee’s first military action after graduation from West Point was in 1845, in the war with Mexico. He met and worked with later key players in the Civil War, including James Longstreet, Ulysses S. Grant, George Pickett and Thomas J. Jackson. Lee worked as an army engineer prior to the Civil War. He helped build the waterfront in St Louis and coastal forts in Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia. He was appointed superintendent of West Point in 1852 and is considered one of the best superintendents in the institution's history.

Abraham Lincoln, who later became president of the United States, offered Robert E. Lee command of the Union Army in 1861 but Lee refused. He would not raise arms against his native state. Lee resigned his commission and headed home to Virginia. Lee served as adviser to Confederate leader Jefferson Davis, and then commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. After four years of death and destruction, Robert E. Lee met Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, where both generals ended their battles. Lee told his comrades, “Go home and be good Americans”.

Lee was appointed as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia in 1865. The school was later renamed to include his name in his honor. He died of a heart attack at Washington-Lee College on October 12, 1870, and is buried in a chapel on the school grounds with his family.

Symbols

Various monuments, heritage sites, and institutions (including schools) are named after General Robert E. Lee. Political leaders in modern history have been quoted to honor him. For example, Winston Churchill once said that Robert E. Lee was one of the noblest Americans who ever lived. Lee's motto is known to be “Duty, Honor, Country.”

Robert E Lee's Birthday Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonJan 18Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, GA, MS
2010TueJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2011MonJan 17Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, GA, MS
2011WedJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2012MonJan 16Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2012ThuJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2012SunNov 25Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayGeorgia
2013SatJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2013MonJan 21Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2013FriNov 29Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayGeorgia
2014SunJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2014MonJan 20Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2014FriNov 28Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayGeorgia
2015MonJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2015MonJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2015FriNov 27Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayGeorgia
2016MonJan 18Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2016TueJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2016FriNov 25State HolidayState holidayGeorgia
2017MonJan 16Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAL, AR, MS
2017ThuJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2017FriNov 24State HolidayState holidayGeorgia
2018MonJan 15Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAlabama, Mississippi
2018FriJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2018FriNov 23State HolidayState holidayGeorgia
2019SatJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2019MonJan 21Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAlabama, Mississippi
2019FriNov 29State HolidayState holidayGeorgia
2020SunJan 19Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayFlorida
2020MonJan 20Robert E Lee's BirthdayState holidayAlabama, Mississippi
2020FriNov 27State HolidayState holidayGeorgia

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