Had Robert E. Lee taken command of Union forces in spring 1861, the war would probably have come to an end more quickly and slavery would most likely have survived it. Lee would have been the hero of the nation, and he could easily have become the eighth president from Virginia. This was in his grasp, but he let it go to preserve his personal honor and to defend his home and his family. Those who argue that he chose to fight for slavery rather than against it, and that this is all one needs to know about Lee, lose sight of the extent of the sacrifice that he made. His decision was not about defending slavery; it was about doing what he thought was right. ~ Virginia Historical Society [Emphasis mine.]Well put, but no doubt unsettling to those who are preoccupied with "condemning the past for not being more like the present" and who wish to tarnish Lee's good name and status as an American hero and icon.
So, could one argue that Lee's decision to support the Confederacy ended slavery sooner than it would have had he done what President Lincoln had wanted him to?
How ironic is that?