Hope eternal

The Economist
November 5, 2009

This engaging history of Arlington National Cemetery, America’s most hallowed military burial ground and home to over 300,000 soldiers, officers and statesmen, is also the story of America’s maturation through death and war.

Originally the estate of General Robert E. Lee, the renowned military strategist who led the Confederacy in battle against the Union during the American civil war, it was designated a military cemetery in June 1864, after the Lee family fled south but before the war had ended. Lee’s rival, Montgomery Meigs, as skilled in bureaucratic manoeuvring as Lee was on the battlefield, ordered bodies buried right against the Lee family’s former home, so as to discourage the family from ever wanting to live in it again—as indeed they would not. After filing suit to regain Arlington in December 1882, Mr Lee’s son sold it four months later for $150,000. Accepting the title to the property was Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the president who oversaw General Lee’s defeat.

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