<br /> Lee Letter: b346

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Martin Pickett


It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people, and it is as true that knowledge is a principal source of virtue; these facts render the establishment of schools, for the instruction of youth, a fundamental concern in all free communities. I wish that it had been made a primary duty of the legislature, by our constitution, as it has been wisely done by some of the states in this union. Such establishments will be the surest means of perpetuating our free forms of government, for, when men are taught to know, and well to understand, the great inherent rights of human nature, they will take care not to suffer the hands of vice, of violence, or of ignorance, to rob them of such inestimable blessings. You may suppose, sir, that, with these sentiments, I see with pleasure every attempt to establish seminaries of learning, and that my endeavours shall not be wanting to promote the laudable purpose, by every means in my power. You say there are several beautiful situations on Spicer’s tenement, for the purpose of the proposed academy, and that he is willing to part with any two acres for that use. I do hereby, sir, declare to you, and assure the other gentlemen concerned with you in the establishment of this academy, that whenever Randall Spicer’s consent for this purpose, shall be tendered me in writing, and a fee simple deed be offered me to sign, for conveying a clear and effectual fee simple right in any such two acres, for the sole use of a public school, or seminary of learning, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever, I will sign and execute such deed with pleasure, and desire no other gratuity but the satisfaction that I shall receive in knowing the salutary effects that will be derived to the good people of Fauquier in particular, and the community in general, from so useful an establishment. With my respects to all the gentlemen concerned in this praiseworthy business, I remain, Sir,

Your most obedient and very humble servant,

Richard Henry Lee



Printed in R. H. Lee, Memoir of Richard Henry Lee, 2:70. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 411 – 12.