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Robert E. Lee

Joseph G. Totten

U.S. Mil. Academy West Point

10 Oct. 1854

General.

I have recd. the letter of Lt. Col. Casey, in reference to commutation of fuel & qrs. to the Board of Officers in session at the Post; refer to me on the 7th Inst. for the report required by the Honble. Secy of War.

The hotel at the Point was built about 25 years since, from means derived from the Mily. Acady. Post Fund, to provide accommodation to the friends & relatives of Cadets, Board of Visitors, Officers on duty, & others visiting the Acady. The terms of its lease require this accommodation to be furnished at all times, & that the Hotel shall be kept open in winter as well as summer. Other conditions are imposed which the interest of the Acady require, & which diminish profits Generally enjoyed at other Hotels. The revenue from the rent, is applied to the support of the Band, chapel, making roads, walks, planting trees, & other things for the beauty of the Point & Acady. The repair of the Hotel for the last two years has cost $2835.00. The interest on the cost of its construction, though being gradually reduced, is still $200.00 per year. About $800 is annually paid for Support of the Band, $30.00 to the Organist at the chapel. Last year $178.00 were contributed for the purchase of an organ, $92.00 for Hymn Books & church music, $48.00 for trees, planted around the plain &c.—all of which has been paid out of this fund. Government has done nothing to furnish accommodations to the relations of Cadets or to Offcrs. on temporary duty, as supposed by the Br. M. Genl, or to place them on a different footing, than when called to the seat of Government or elsewhere. Some of the former frequently pass the entire Summer at the Point, as may suit their pleasure or convenience; & though accommodation is secured them, the landlord is not obliged to make a difference in his rates of charge between them & other citizens of the country, who feel an interest in the Academy, or wish to visit it. As the Hotel is required to be kept in the manner of a first class Hotel in New York, there is no reason why the rates should not be about the same- Nearly every thing has to be procured from New York, & the cost & loss of transportation added to the market price. Visitors, in Summer, have the choice between the Hotel on the Point, & others very acceptable in the immediate vicinity, & I believe it is better & more in accordance with the policy & principles of our institutions to let individual interests & preferences regulate these matters, than to attempt to control them—This is therefore left to the parties concerned.

For the reasons given & my experience of the cost of living at West Point, I know of no fairer criterion for fixing the rate of commutation than that paid in the City of New York. The letter of Col. Casey is herewith returned.

I have the honour to be Your obedt. Servt.Signed/ R. E. Lee Br. Col:
Supt: Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, p. 142. Addressed “Genl: Jos: G. Totten Chief Engineer Washington City D.C.”