Arlington February 9th 1861
I only this evening my dear friend received your letter written on the 5th of January. Where could it have been all this time? Not intercepted I hope by the Secessionists. You directed it to Alexa. whereas we have changed our Post Office now to Arlington near Washington DC. I am so much obliged to you for thinking of me in these troublous times, tho I have thought much of you & yours & a few days since had determined to write to you to know if you could approve of all these riotous proceedings. Has all love for & pride in their Country died at the South? that they are willing to tear her in pieces & some even to exult to see her glorious flag trailing in the dust. It should rather have drawn tears from their eyes. We have lived & fought & prospered under this flag for so many years & tho’ the South has suffered much from the meddling of Northern fanatics. Yet do they expect to fare better now; Are there no rights & privileges but those of negro slavery? You by your situation are removed from any active interference, whereas we in the border states are so much annoyed that our slaves have become almost useless. In our own family we have lost numbers who have been decoyed, off & after my Father’s death we were preserved from an outbreak excited by two abolitionists who were constantly over here (as we learned afterwards, one of whom I am happy to say is now in the penitentiary for 14 years) we were preserved I say by the special mercy of God. The Tribune & New York Times published the most villainous attacks upon my husband by name & upon my Fathers memory in language I would not pollute my lips by repeating, & yet after all these wrongs I would lay down my life could I save our “Union.” What is the use of a government combined as ours is of so many parts, the Union of which forms its strength & power if any one part has the right for any wrong real or imaginary of withdrawing its aid & throwing the whole into confusion as Carolina who refuses all overtures for peace & imagines the world will admire her independence, whereas they laugh at her folly which is perfectly suicidal. You know my feelings are all linked with the South & you will bear with me in the expression of my opinion, but while there are many of the Northern politicians who deserve no better fate than to be hung as high as Haman, believe me that those who have been foremost in this Revolution will deserve & meet with the reprobation of the world either North or South, for having destroyed the most glorious Confederacy that ever existed. You have lived abroad, you have known many excellent people at the North & all your sympathies & feelings cannot be confined to your state to the exclusion of your Country. The Almighty may intend to punish us for our National Pride. I pray now that He will preserve us from Civil War. We can never boast again as a nation unless all could be restored.
Believe me my dear friend whatever may happen you & yours will be always dear to my heart & at least our love & association will be unbroken. I only wish the other Southern states had left Carolina alone & the government had let her alone & she would soon have been tired of her sovereignty. She has been restless & anxious to show her independence for many years & it would have been well for her to try the experiment alone. Mr. Lee is in Texas deeply grieved at the state of things. Custis is here with us in his absence & goes over daily to his office. He desires to be most kindly remembered to you & all his friends in Savannah. You have got the advantage of me. I have only one grandson Rooney’s boy called Robert Edward & I haven’t seen him since he was 3 weeks old. Rooney is such a busy farmer he thinks he cannot leave home. Mildred is at boarding school in Winchester & Rob at the University. I do not know if I have written to you since they both became communicants a subject of great joy to me. Mary Annie & Agnes have been with me all the winter tho’ Mary is now making a little visit in Washington to her aunt Mrs. S. S. Lee
Source:The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Papers of the Lee Family, Box 4, M2009.248, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall
Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 September 29