Lexington Va 22 Jany 1867
My dear Edward
About a week after dispatching my last letter I recd yours of the 27 Ulto: I had previously written to Mr. Corbin in reply to his enclosing the letter of the Revd S. D. Stuart to the London Times. The second letter which you mention I have not seen, but if he exonerates me in it from all complicity in his action as he did in the first, he stated the truth in that respect. You must not be surprized at the imprudence of Americans, & I presume by this time the English people are prepared for it. I expressed my opinion in my former letters to you & Mr. Corbin, but lest they have not reached you, I will repeat that Mr. Stuart was appointed by the trustees of Washington College to receive any funds its friends might bestow for its restoration & enlargement, & I have seen it styled in this country the “Lee Endowment” to distinguish it from other endowments. I presume Mr. Stuart used the expression in the same light in England, but his mistake I think was in supposing that the English people would care about it at all. I am sorry to see that you anticipate a renewal of hostilities in Europe. There are but few questions which require the intervention of war, & Governments ought to try every honourable means for their settlement before resorting to it. I can understand the angry feelings between France & Prussia, but I think it is to the interest of the former to maintain if possible peaceful relations, & I think Louis Napoleon is wise enough to see it. I wish I could say that our prospects in this country were cheering. The greatest danger to be dreaded, is the tendency in the mind of the majority towards the subversion of the old form of Government & the substitution in its place of a great Consolidated central power, which wielded by the will of the
majority party, will soon disregard every constitutional check, trample upon the reserved rights of the states, & in time annihilate the Constitution. The avowed objects of the war, the restoration “of the Union with all the dignity, equality & rights of the states unimpaired,” have not been fulfilled; & the President for attempting to carry out the resolutions of Cong[ress] in 1861 on the subject, is threatened with impeachment & deposition. The Supreme Court for deciding that the Constitution is supreme, & binding upon the President & Congress, must be swept away, or the Judges reorganized out of office; the existing governments of the Southern States must be abolished. These are some of the first demands of the present majority, & it is painful to contemplate what the end may be. The certain fact seems to be that though the war has ended, peace is not restored to the Country.
I am glad to find that you removed from the troubles by which we are surrounded, are engaged in your studies, & are advancing your knowledge of the Greek & other languages. If you can not rival Epaminondas & the illustrious men of antiquity in their greatness, you can at least strive to equal them in wisdom & virtue.
I have been obliged to write very hastily, for my time is so occupied, that I can not indulge in friendly Correspondence, & in this effort I have been greatly interrupted. All the members of the family are as reported in my last, & all who are with me send you much love. I have not heard whether Mildred has returned to Baltimore from the E[astern] Shore, & as I see that the Chesapeake is frozen over, Communication may be interrupted.
Truly & aff[ectionatel]y your Uncle
R E Lee
Mr. Edw[ar]d L. Childe
Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.346, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 25