<br /> Lee Letter: a077

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: E. V. Childe

My dear brother Childe

I have just read your letter of the 25 April from Baltimore, & its post scriptum of the 27th, stating the Richmond banks declined transferring to you the stock of which I trustee, without my empowering the Cashiers respectively to do so. I have filled up the powers of attorney which you forwarded to me in blank to execute, but shall have to travel down into the region of Courts & the administrators of law, before I can have my signature properly attested. Some delay must therefore occur, before I can transmit them to Mr Lyons as you request, as I must get authority from the Commg Genl of the Dept: before leaving my Post for the purpose.

I assume from your letter that the trust devolved on me by decree of the Court of Monthly Sessions for Fairfax County Virginia in 1854 has in law, terminated, & that I have only to transfer to you as the legatee, the property for which I was appointed trustee. If my assumption is right, my authority to the Cashiers will be legal & valid, & the accomplishment of the business simple.

Not having with me a copy of my mothers will or of the decree of the Court, I really do not know the extent or limit of the trust with which I am invested, & it is therefore that I wish to call your attention to it, in order that I may act in strict accordance with law. As I have never yet, & it is my determination never to, willingly go contrary to it.

But if on the contrary my assumption is not right, & the trust with which I was invested is not legally terminated, nor the conditions of my mothers will fulfilled, my orders of transfer to Messrs Marx & Smith will not be lawful, & as it was decided in 1854, that I had no power to change the investment of the property, but that it must remain as devised, until the conditions of the deed of trust were accomplished I suppose they will decide now that I have no right to transfer the property out of my hands, except in fulfilment of the conditions of the will.

In this latter event, in order that the object you have in view may be accomplished, I propose to relinquish the trust, & to apply to the Court to be relieved & that you be appointed the trustee; & to save time will write to Mary, should this supposed state of things be found to exist, to cause an application to be made in my name at the next meeting of the Court of Monthly Sessions in Fairfax County to this effect. You will perceive that this is anticipatory on my part, & entended to provide for a state of things that may not exist; but which if found to exist, might create delay & embarassment in your plans.

Whatever is done by virtue of the powers that I will enclose to Mr Lyons, I must request you to see in my behalf, is done in strict accordance with law, for it is by its provisions as already said that I wish to be governed, & not being able to attend to the matter myself, must get you to attend to it for me. You see now the truth of what of what I stated to you (or Marshall) at the time I accepted the trust. That my professional duties prevented my proper attention to my own affairs & that I was not therefore the proper person to entrust the affairs of others [text omitted in letterbook] Very truly & affy

your brother

R E Lee


Ely-DeButts PapersLibrary of Congress

Transcribed in Francis Raymond Adams, Jr., An Annotated Edition of the Personal Letters of Robert E. Lee, April, 1855 – April, 1861, pp. 352 – 54. Addressed to “E. V. Childe Esqr. Boston Mass.”