....soon after, Lee gave an interview to a reporter from The New York Herald. In the story he was quoted as saying he condemned the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He called it “deplorable,” “a crime.”
More important, Lee celebrated the end of slavery. (“I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished ... the best men of the South have long been anxious to do away with this institution ... “slavery [is] forever dead,” he said. “The South was anxious to get back into the Union and to peace.”)
The news story received wide circulation in both Northern and Southern newspapers. Lee’s words did more than anything else at this critical juncture to help bring the United States of America to peace.
Soon after, Lee and his family were attending St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va. The blacks in church were seated at the back, as was the custom of the time. Their former white masters were seated in front. When the minister called for Holy Communion, a black man advanced to the communion rail. The congregation was stunned. Usually whites received communion first. After a moment, a tall white man got up and knelt beside the black man to take the Lord’s supper. Watching the scene, others both white and black followed. The white man who joined his black brother was Robert E. Lee.