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 It contains published and unpublished items, some well known to historians, others that are rare or have never before been put online.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



Lexington, Va., 21 May 1867.

Mrs M. E. Wells

Petersburg, Va,

My Dear Mrs Wells:

I regret that I have not been able to reply sooner to your kind letter; but my duties are so constant and my correspondence so large that I am unable to keep pace with its demands. I am very glad to hear from you, and hope that your family are all well. My thoughts often revert to the good people of your city, and I shall never cease to sympathize in everything that concerns them. The present condition of affairs is, as you state, calculated to create much anxiety, but not sufficient in my opinion to cause us to despond, or to cease in our efforts to direct events to a favorable issue. It is difficult to see now what course will lead certainly to that end, and I can not pretend to advise, as you suggest, those better qualified to judge than myself. But I know that in pursuing the path dictated by prudence and wisdom, and in endeavoring honestly to accomplish only what is right, the darkness which overshadows our political horizon will be dissipated, and the true course to pursue will, as we advance, become visible and clear. I think however it must be now apparent to every one who reflects, that all who are not disfranchised by the present laws should qualify themselves to vote at the approaching elections, and unite in selecting the best available men to represent them in the required convention. Whatever the convention may then adopt as the best under the circumstances for the people and state, irrespective of individuals, should be accepted and carried out in good faith. Although their decision may not be considered at the time as the most advantageous, it should be recollected that it can be improved as opportunity offers; and in the end, I trust all things will work together for our good. Above all, I think there should be harmony and good feeling between all citizens, and no division into parties; but all should unite for the common good. For reasons which I think you will understand and appreciate, I have a great reluctance to appear before the public in any manner. I think no good would result from it, and must therefore ask you to consider my letter as private.

Please present me most kindly to Mr Wells and all the members of your household, and say to your kind neighbors, the Meades, Bollings and Banisters, that I wish much to see them.

Very respectfully & truly yours

(sgd.) R. E. Lee



Source: Photocopy of letterbook copy, Lee Family Papers, Mss1 L51 c 738, pp.45-46, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond

Transcribed by Katie Hall, 2018 June 13

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