Robert E. Lee

Solon Borland

U.S. Mil. Academy West Point N.Y.

19 Oct. 1854

My dear Sir,

I have recd your letter of the 4th Inst. enclosing $25.00 for the use of your son & a letter for him. The latter I will hand him, & will apply to the Secy. of War for permission to place the former to his credit, which will reduce his indebtedness, & enable him to get many little articles, he would otherwise be deprived of. I think it probable from your letter that it may have been your wish that your son should have himself recd. the money, but I have no authority to give it to him, nor could I with propriety apply to the Secy. of War without some urgent reason. The object of the Regns. is not only to inculcate habits of economy & to take away temptations to self indulgence & extravagance, but to place all the Cadets on an equal footing at the Academy, & give the sons of the poor, the same advantages as the sons of the rich. As you left therefore to me the “further disposition” of the money, I had no other course, than that I have mentioned, which as I really think it best for your son, I hope it will meet with your approbation. It is the one I pursued in the case of my own son & the one I recommend to all parents. I concur entirely in your views as to extravagance & its consequences & without positing to the advantages of an opposite course, of which the country is full of illustrious examples, it is very evident, that to enable officers of the Army to live on their pay, they must learn to do so while Cadets.

I hope therefore you will not only urge upon him the necessity of economy, but strict attention to all his duties, & the propriety of taking a high position in his class. Without having committed any grave offences, he has incurred up to this time 60 demerit, arising from want of punctuality & precision. He is in the 4th Section in Mathics & in the 3rd in French, & that you may be enabled to form some idea of his proficiency in his studies, I will state that his recitation marks in the last week were 5.9 in the former, the maximum being 12; & 6 in the latter, the maximum being 9.

It will at all times afford me much pleasure to do anything in my power for you or for him, & you need make no apologies in commanding my services.

I remain very truly yours,Signed/ R. E. Lee Br. Col:
Supt: Mil: Acady

Superintendent’s Daily Correspondence
United States Military Academy

Superintendent’s Letter Book No. 3, pp. 144–45. Addressed “Hon. Solon Borland Little Rock Arkansas”