From the 9 August 1877 issue of The New York Times.



As pertinent to the meeting of the Virginia Democratic State Convention, the Richmond Dispatch reproduces the following letter, written 10 years since, by the late Gen. Robert E. Lee:

LEXINGTON, Va. Feb. 4, 1867.

Hon. Robert Ould, Virginia Senate, Richmond, Va.:

I received to-day your letter of the 31st ult., and the subject to which it relates is so important that, though confined to my room by indisposition, I reply at once. I feel greatly honored at what you say is the prevailing wish of leading men in the State—that I should accept the nomination for the office of Governor of Virginia—and I duly appreciate the spirit that has led them to name me for that high position. I candidly confess, however, that my feelings induce me to prefer private life, which I think more suitable to my condition and age, and where, I believe, I can better advance the interests of my State than in that you propose. You will agree with me, I am sure, in the opinion that this is no time for the indulgence of personal or political considerations in selecting a person to fill that office; nor should it be regarded as a means of rewarding individuals for supposed former services. The welfare of the State, and the interests of her citizens should be the only principle of selection. Believing that there are men in the State more capable than I am of filling the position, and who could do more to promote the interests of the people, I most respectfully decline to be considered a candidate for the office.

I think it important in selecting a chief magistrate of the Commonwealth for the citizens to choose one capable of fulfilling its high trust, and at the same time not liable to misconstruction, which their choice of one objectionable to the General Government would be sure to create, and thereby increase the evils under which the State at present labors.

I have no means of knowing other than are apparent to you whether my election as Governor of Virginia would be personally injurious to me or not, and, therefore, the consideration of that question in your letter has not been embraced in my reply. But I believe it would be used by the dominant party to excite hostility toward the State and to injure the people in the eyes of the country, and I therefore cannot consent to become the instrument of bringing distress upon those whose prosperity and happiness are dear to me. If my disfranchisement and privation of civil rights would secure to the citizens of the State the enjoyment of civil liberty and equal rights, under the Constitution, I would willing accept them in thier stead.

What I have written is intended only for your own information. With grateful thanks for your friendly sentiments, I am, very truly yours.

R. E. LEE.