R. E. Lee: A Paradoxical Paradigm
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentHistory and Geography
ProgramDoctor of Philosophy
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Robert E. Lee's personality, childhood experiences and antebellum career are key components which influenced his comprehension and execution of strategic theory, practice, and leadership in his position as general-in-chief of the Confederate armies and commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. To understand the ways and means of this occurrence, JoAnna McDonald applies strategic studies and strategic leadership methodologies. Strategic studies encompasses psychology, philosophy, sociology, geography, military history, political science, economics, tactics, and in Lee's case, religion, to examine Robert E. Lee's thought processes and behavior while strategic leadership fuses strategy with management of the organization, vision, and communication. This investigation reveals that a defining paradox was replicated at every stage of his life and became detrimental in the first two-and-a-half years of the Civil War as R. E. Lee exhibited a paradigm of paradoxical philosophies in the preparation as well as implementation of his strategic theory, practice, and leadership. His education, assignments and character had confirmed him on a narrow path where he secured positive results and admiration. These validating experiences solidified his perfectionism, paladin persona, congeniality, tact, vivacity, and ambition which, as one of the highest ranking generals in the Confederacy, produced negative results. Although he possessed the intelligence and energy to broaden his cognitive capabilities, as well as to adjust his disposition, Lee failed to expand his ingenuity or modify his deportment. Thus, his maturation as an individual and military officer, as explained within this dissertation, discloses the alpha and omega of this paradox which resulted in lethal consequences.