• 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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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 curator, Colin Woodward, about how you can contribute to this historic project.



[Red Hook, NY]


Dear Lee,


I received your letter some days ago. I think well of your project. The subject is a fine one—the army of the north “pulling up drowning honor by the locks.”1 A Sallust2 would indeed make something of it, and I see no reason why you should fail. At any rate, whether you rival the brilliant touches of the Roman or not, you may far surpass him in the fullness and frankness of your story. What a mistake to forget such an actor as Cicero, in detailing the conspiring of Catalina! Any aid, in proof as illustrious as facts, that I can give you, you may command. I may soon be treading the same path myself, but as it is abundantly wide for us both, this will create no jostling. Accept the assurance of my entire good will and great regard.


John Armstrong


Dec 6 1825


Maj Lee Washington




Source: Mss 2 Ar573 a 1 Manuscripts, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2016 August 15






1. Reference to Shakespeare’s Henry IV, “By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap/To pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon/Or dive into the bottom of the deep/Where fathom-line could never touch the ground/And pluck up drowned honor by the locks.”

2. Roman historian (86 to ca. 35 BCE) who wrote the Conspiracy of Cataline.

Reference Shelf

Data Collections

About the Project

Website by Fresh Look Web Design
Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved