Lexington VA 9 Feby 1867
My dear Sir,
I am very much obliged to you for your letter of the 5 Inst: & your attention to the petition & interests of Washington College. The application for a portion of the land fund was based upon the supposition that the Legislature might prefer making use of the buildings, apparatus & property of certain endowed Colleges, for applying this fund in several parts of the State, rather than confining the whole to any Single portion, thereby distributing its benefits & bringing it nearer the homes of the agriculturists & mechanics for whom it Seemed principally designed. If however they should prefer giving the whole to a single institution, I think Washington College would apply it as advantageously as any other, with as little tax upon the State.
I hope the bill which you have introduced into the Senate for the payment of interest to in operated colleges will be favorably acted on. Their claim has the sacredness of a preferred debt, united to the wise opinion for the intellectual & moral culture of the youth of the State, upon whom its future prosperity depends, I can See neither justice or prosperity, in setting aside such a claim, & then appropriating more than sufficient to satisfy it, to the University & Institute. Surely the former in every aspect in which it can be viewed, should have the preference.
Hoping to renew next summer the pleasurable acquaintance commenced the last.
I am with great respect
Yours obdt servt
R E Lee
The Honble David S.G. Cabell
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.121, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 May 26