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The Lee Family Digital Archive is the largest online source for primary source materials concerning the Lee family of Virginia. It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online. We are always looking for new letters, diaries, and books to add to our website. Do you have a rare item that you would like to donate or share with us? If so, please contact our editor, Colin Woodward, at  (804) 493-1940, about how you can contribute to this historic project.


 

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Lee Family Digital Archive

Balt Augt 17, 1856

 

My dear Edward,

 

            I recd a letter from you at Rome which gave me great pleasure and I had designed to answer it as soon as I heard of your return to Paris. I had hoped to answer under far happier circumstances and to congratulate you upon the promise it gave instead of condole with you upon the heavy calamity which had befallen you. You are aware of the strong affection I had for your mother and therefore I need not say that. I have felt on this occasion as I should feel at the loss of my only sister. It must be long before you can recover your composure after the loss of such a parent and friend and I know will that your sensibilities will be always keenly alive on the subject of her tender and intelligent care of you. I hope that you will remember the virtues for which she was so distinguished, her energy, courage truthfulness, unwearied fidelity and frankness. These qualities, together with her fine talents made her distinguished as a girl and won her the high place in the society of the first capital of Europe, which you have witnessed.  These are qualities to be remembered not only as subjects of proud gratification but that they may be imitated. I know no one to whom I could point you more properly as the object of virtuous emulation than your mother. I know no one who more steadily cultivated their powers, who more resolutely pursued worthy purposes, who had a greater conception of the destiny that befitted her or who more steadily, and virtuously wrought out its fulfilment: Her success you are fully able to appreciate. Your father mentions that the crushing of your home has decided him and you and Mary to come to the United States. From allusions which he makes to your being willing to be employed in one of the public offices at Washington I suppose the purpose of his return is to make the United States his and Mary’s home. I have no question that your accomplishments will ensure you employment at Washington or as Foreign Secretary and that too without much delay or uncertainty. It is necessary however that you should be here and be personally known. There are two sources of success the one political and derivable from others, the other dependant upon the possession of qualities which are necessary to others. These you have and therefore must succeed and with the proud recollection that your success has been your own. I hope that you will be here in time to go to Washington during the winter session of Congress and I have not the slightest doubt of your views being gratified at an early day. I have a brother and cousin in Congress and the gentleman who is Democratic Candidate for the Vice Presidency is a relative and friend of mine. All that I can do shall be done for you, but as I have said you can do more for your self by being known and letting your qualifications be seen and felt than any one can do for you. We are about to have a change of administration. It is very doubtful whether the Democratic candidate for president will be elected. The Democratic Candidate for vice president certainly will. And it is quite possible that by a fracture to elect a president by the people the office of President may devolve upon the Vice-President. It would be unwise to attempt a place under an outgoing administration as changes are always expected and accomplished to a greater or less extent and only resisted by those who have become somewhat firmly placed by time and usage. I think the chances are about equal for the election of Buchanon the Democrat and Freemont the Freesoil or Republican candidate. I shall probably name more influence with the latter than with the former, as I have not been in favor of his nomination and as the wife of Fremont is a relative of mine and there has been a great intimacy in our families. However we must await the change with the certainty that you have about you all the elements of success and must have under any contingency many appliances to give those elements activity. I shall enclose this in one to your father. Your aunt sends a mothers love to you and many.

Yours truly,

W L Marshall

 

 

 

Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 3, M2009.231, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall

 

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 November 24

 

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