Oct 24th 1870
Col Walter H. Taylor
My Dear Colonel,
You will see by the accompanying paper, what is doing here in reference to our beloved General’s resting place, as it now is, and whether it continue so or not. You will also notice that we assign you a post of honor & responsibility – in promoting this work. Earnestly devoted as I know you are to the design of getting the precious dust after a while to Richmond, I am aware this relation to our undertaking may at first seem to you incongruous, if not unfair. But candid as is your mind, you will, I hope & believe, with additional time, see the matter in another light.
The reason we give may not satisfy you that the tomb of Genl Lee should always be at a place as obscure as this would be, but for its association with his name. And yet you cannot fail to recognize their force. But, however that may be. For a good while to come the question is settled by the only adequate authority. And if events transpire as I have reason to believe, there is little likelihood of that authority reversing its decision.
Even, however, should it be determined some years hence to transfer these remains to the Capital, the Mausoleum here for which we now plead, may well continue at this spot, a momento of the last significantly useful work to which our illustrious leader gave his benignant energies. In this view, surely, you can consistently give your influence to our enterprise. We desire to interfere with no other monumental design. On the contrary all such that are sincere & worthy we cordially wish success. But ours is undoubtedly at present most identified with the personal rela [sic] & most sacred feelings that attach to the memory of our peerless friend.
Whatever then may be done hereafter, & elsewhere, let us now & here render – as he lies entombed – the honor due to him not only for what he was, as the best Representative & Champion of Virginian & Southern rights, but also & peculiarly to us, the country & the world, as the noble exemplar of grandly useful en virtue – in adversity.
We beg that you will accept the position, and cordially cooperate with us, by conferring with Genl Early you can judge in what way best to give vitality & efficiency to Local Auxiliary Associations & other agencies – towards the early accomplishment of our design.
The honor conferred upon me of making me Ch[air]m[a]n of the Ex[ecutive] Com[mittee] was wholly without my knowledge. But I deem it a duty to promote as best I can, so important an object. I hope you will feel & act in like manner.
Please let us hear from your favorably:
most truly yr friend
W. N. Pendleton
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 8, M2009.391
Transcribed by Caitlin Connelly, 2016 July 15