Many people do not know that Arlington National Cemetery sits on land that used to be owned by Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate Army. The Union confiscated the 1,100-acre Virginia estate from Lee, and President Lincoln then gave permission for it to be turned into a cemetery. According to some accounts, the idea was that if Lee ever decided to return, he would have to look out at the graves of those killed by the war he helped to create.
Lee’s oldest son sued the federal government after the war and won back the estate, but because it was now a cemetery, he sold it back to the government for $150,000.
The Arlington House today:
The Arlington House in 1864: