• The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia
  • The Lees of Virginia

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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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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Fort Point, San Francisco

16th February 1858

 

My Dearest Mother,

The steamer, which arrived yesterday, brought me quite a budget of letters from home, one from Pa’, another from Agnes, one from ‘Precious Life’ with a few lines from Annie, and last, although not least, a long letter from yourself. I feel that I have not been forgotten this time, and such remembrances from home, as you know, give me much pleasure, even although what I hear informs me of some of the many troubles that you and my dear Father have to bear. I wish indeed that I could be near you to endeaver [sic], at least, to aid you in your various difficulties.

Since I first became aware of the requirements of my dear Grandfather’s will, I have been convinced that it was not only right and proper, but in accordance with the best interests of all of us, that Pa’ should have unlimited control over the whole property, in order that the will might be carried into effect. I see no other way in which all of its requirements can be satisfied.

I have intended from the first to resign altogether any interest I may have in Arlington, that is as soon as your letters informed me that I had anything to do with the matter. I have done so informally in a previous letter to Pa’, and by this mail, will if possible, send on the legal instrument for carrying my purpose into effect. I have no fear that I shall ever regret anything he may do in the management of whatever is entrusted to him, and I feel that without full power to act as one thinks best, it is next to impossible to do anything. I do not consider what I am about to do a favor, even setting aside the debt of love and gratitude I owe to both Pa’ and yourself for devoting the best parts of your lives to me, to anyone but myself. I will be the sole gainer by the act. I trust Pa’ will not refuse to receive my interest in Arlington, for my sake, if not for his own. I can never have any interest seperate [sic] from my dear Father and mother. I endeavered [sic] in my last letter to you to say what I have been trying to explain in this one, but fear I have not succeeded well in either case; however; I will write to my dearest Father by this mail, and perhaps all my letters taken together may enable you to get at what I wish to say. I am very sorry to learn that Sister’s health is so bad, I am afraid she does not take good care of herself. I dare say you will have to consign her after all to my tender cares, and let her try the effects of this climate. I have much improved in health since my arrival, expecting the rheumatism, and that has been very troublesome lately, so much so now that I can not unite with much ease or comfort.

I received a most spirited epistle from “Precious Life”, extolling the merits of Tomtita.1 I must manage to answer it, but never having been particularly struck with Tomtita’s good qualities, I am afraid I can not do him justice. I am glad that Agnes has gone to Baltimore to take lessons with my little cousin Mary Childe. I think they will be of great benefit to her; what will she do without Annie! Poor Annie! she will have to come out to me, I see.

I will not write any more just now, but will make up for the deficiency of this note, I hope, at another time.

Yr most aff. Son

Custis

 

Mrs R. E. Lee

Arlington, Va.

 

Source: Photocopy of original letter, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c, Section 12, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2017 October 30   

 

1. The Lee family cat.

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