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His life has been written by John Esten Cooke, John William Jones, J. D. McCabe, Jr., and Fitz Hugh Lee, his nephew.
TO HIS SON.
Duty is the sublimest word in the English language.
AT THE SURRENDER.
Human virtue should be equal to human calamity.
GENERAL LEE'S LAST order.
(Appomattox Court-House, April 10, 1865.)
After four years of arduous service, marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. I need not tell the survivors of so many hard-fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but, feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that would compensate for the loss that would have attended the continuation of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen. By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes, and remain there until exchanged.
You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection. With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration of myself, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
LETTER ACCEPTING THE PRESIDENCY OF
POWHATAN COUNTY, August 24, 1865.
GENTLEMEN :-I have delayed for some days replying to your letter of the 5th instant informing me of my election, by the board of Trustees, to the Presidency of Washington College, from a desire to give the subject due consideration. Fully impressed with the responsibilities of the office, I have feared that I should be unable to discharge its duties to the satisfaction of the Trustees, or to the benefit of the country. The proper education of youth requires not only great ability, but, I fear, more strength than I now possess; for I do not feel able to undergo the labor of conducting classes in regular courses of instruction. I could not, therefore, undertake more than the general administration and supervision of the institution.
There is another subject which has caused me serious reflection, and is, I think, worthy of the consideration of the Board. Being excluded from the terms of amnesty in the proclamation of the United States of the 29th of May last, and an object of censure to a portion of the country, I have thought it probable that my occupation of the position of president might draw upon the college a feeling of hostility, and I should therefore cause injury to an institution which it would be my highest object to advance.
I think it the duty of every citizen, in the present condition of the country, to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony, and in no way to oppose the policy of the State or general Government directed to that object. It is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the young to set them an example of submission to authority, and I could not consent to be the
cause of animadversion upon the college. however, take a different view, and think that my services, in the position tendered me by the Board, will be advantageous to the college and the country, I will yield to your judgment and accept it; otherwise I must most respectfully decline the offer.
Begging you to express to the Trustees of the college my heartfelt gratitude for the honor conferred upon me, and requesting you to accept my cordial thanks for the kind manner in which you have communicated its decision, I am, gentlemen, your most obedient servant,
R. E. LEE.
JEFFERSON DAVIS, President of the Confederate States, was born in Todd County, Kentucky, but his father removed to Mississippi soon afterwards, and he was reared and partly educated in that state. Later he attended Transylvania University in Kentucky, and in 1824 entered West Point. He was graduated in 1828 and served seven years in the army, being stationed in Missouri and Minnesota. On account of ill-health he resigned in 1835 and travelled, and then settled on his Mississippi plantation, "Brierfield."
He was elected to Congress in 1845; served in the Mexican War with great distinction and was injured in eye and limb at the battle of Buena Vista. He was Secretary of War in President Pierce's cabinet, and was a Senator when Mississippi seceded from the Union.
He made his farewell to the Senate in January, 1861, and returned home where he was at once appointed commander
of the State troops. But he had been elected president of the new Confederacy by the Convention at Montgomery, and he was inaugurated, February 18, 1861. On the change of the capital from Montgomery to Richmond, he removed to the latter city and remained there until the war was ended.
He was imprisoned for two years at Fort Monroe, to be tried as a traitor to the United States. Being finally released on bail, he went for his health to England and Canada; and then he resided in Memphis and at "Beauvoir," Mississippi, which latter place was his home when he died. This home," Beauvoir," he had arranged to purchase from Mrs. Dorsey, who was a kind and devoted friend to his family and had assisted him in his writing; but on her death in 1879, it was found that she had left a will bequeathing it to him and to his daughter Varina Anne. He, like Lee, had always declined the many offers of homes and incomes made by their devoted and admiring friends.
On him, as President of the Confederacy, seems to have fallen in some sense the whole odium of the failure of that cause; and this passage from Winnie Davis' "An Irish Knight" has a touching application to his case: "Thus died Ireland's true knight, sinking into the grave clothed in all the bright promise of his youth; never to put on the sad livery of age; never to feel the hopelessness of those who live to see the principles for which they suffered trampled and forgotten by the onward march of new interests and new men. Perhaps Freedom like some deity of ancient Greece, loved him too well to let the slurs and contumely of outrageous fortune dim the bright lustre of his virgin fame.” He is enshrined in the hearts of thousands.
His daughter, Varina Anne, or Winnie," the Child of the Confederacy," as she is lovingly called, is a writer of