The land where Arlington National Cemetery now stands, along with Arlington House, was originally owned by George Washington Parke Custis - the step-grandson of George Washington, the “Father” of the United States of America, and considered the foremost man responsible for the formation of America as a healthy, independent country.
Ironically, Arlington House and its grounds eventually became the possession of General Robert E. Lee, the most important man to guide the Confederate Army during the U.S. Civil War, as the southern states attempted to divide the country which George Washington had worked so hard to establish.
Lee’s ownership of Arlington came about through his marriage to Mary Anna, Custis’s daughter and George Washington’s step great-granddaughter.
Robert E. Lee, who called Arlington House home for three decades, wrote of the place where “my affections and attachments are more strongly placed than at any other place in the world.”
Lee’s lands were confiscated by the U.S. government in 1861, immediately following Lee’s assumption of general of the Confederate troops. Arlington House and its immediate grounds became a small island amid thousands of white headstones spreading over the surrounding hills across Arlington National Cemetery.
The establishment of Arlington National Cemetery insured that Arlington would no longer be a private residence. Robert E. Lee would never return home.
By the early 1900s Lee, long a hero to the South, was being embraced by the North. In a climate of reconciliation the nation now saw him as a great general who in the post-war years had by word and example helped to heal the country’s wounds.
The National Park Service acquired Arlington in 1933 and continued the restoration of the house and grounds which Congress had designated the “Custis-Lee Mansion. “ In 1972 it was dedicated as “Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial.”
When you visit Arlington House today, you are greeted with a spectacular sweeping view of the Potomac River and the Nation’s Capital.
The mansion is open to the public for tours. You can also enjoy a stroll through the beautiful flower garden, and you’ll want to explore the Robert E. Lee Museum, and the slave quarters.
During your visit stay in a Washington, D.C. timeshare rental at either Wyndham Old Town Alexandria or Wyndham Vacation Resorts at National Harbor. Both are budget-friendly.
Photo Credit (top): arlingtonhouse.org
Photo Credit (center): markgibsonphoto.com
Photo Credit (bottom): arlingtonhouse.org