From the 13 January 1907 issue of The New York Times.


Washington and Lee University Honors Confederate Commander.


Many of Those who Were Students and Soldiers Under Him Will Gather at lexington This Week.

Special to The New York Times.

LEXINGTON, Va., Jan. 12.— Dr. George H. Denny, President of the Washington and Lee University, announced this morning that the preparations for the clebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gen. Robert E. Lee, which is to be held in the university chapel on Friday and Saturday next, are about completed. The centennial of the birth of the Commander in Chief of the Confederate Army will be clebrated in many places throughout the South, but nowhere will the exercises be so significant as those at Washington and Lee University, the institutionof which Gen. Lee was President at the time of his death, and in the chapel of which his body is entombed.

“The one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gen. Lee,” said Dr. Denny this morning, “will be clebrated in many places, but in no other place with quite the same significance as at this university, the heir of his fame and the guardian of his dust.

“Not merely to the South, but to the Nation, belongs the fame of Lee as a great General. To those who knew him best, however, his personal character as a Christian gentleman outweighed even his skill as a military leader, and it is in this particular that he will be remembered by them. But there is another phase of his character which has received comparatively little attention.

“I refer to his career as a college President, to his influence upon young men, and to his constructive work as an educator. It is in this field that I think he would have chosen to be remembered, for this work was the work to which he consecrated the best energies of his maturest years. It is this phase of his career to whom we wish to give special attention at the coming celebration at Washington and Lee.[“]

Offers Made to Gen. Lee.

“When the war ended, many friends of Gen. Lee sought to secure for him some position in which he might spend the closing years of his life comparatively free from care and financial worry. Others, perhaps, desired not only to provide him with a competence, but also to use his name in such enterprises as would bring gain both to Gen. Lee and to themselves. Many offers of positions of emolument and honor came to him, but to all of them he turned a deaf ear.

“Then Gen. Lee received a call to assume the Presidency of a small college in the beautiful valley of his native Virginia. This offer he could not refuse. What was the motive that appealed to him and caused him to accept the Presidency of Washington College? It could not have been merely the honorable history and the unique character of the institution, although this doubtless had weight. The college had sprung out of an academy founded mroe than a hundred years before by the sturdy Scotch-Irish pioneers of the Valley of Virginia. It had passed through many vicissitudes in its career. Near the close of the eighteenth century, when its affairs were at a low ebb, Washington had come to its assistance.

“Virginia desired to reward Gen. Washington financially for his services he had rendered in the War for Independence, and while Washington would accept nothing for himself, he consented to receive and use for the cause of education certain shares of canal stock. These shares he gave to this academy in the Valley of Virginia, and it was in recognition of that givt that thename of the school was changed from Liberty Academy to that of Washington College. It may be interesting to add that this gift of Washington’s still yields a good income.

“This college was not administere under the direction of any religious denomination, and was not hampered in its freedom by political domination, and it is not strange that the offer of its Presidency appealed to Gen. Lee. But there was, I think, a far stronger motive which induced him to accept the office. For four long years the very best that there was in Southern youth had been deprived of practically all opportunities for higher education. At the close of the war many of the universities and colleges of the South were in ruins—all were without resources.

“Something had to be done immediately to give these young men an opportunity to regain this lost time. To what could Gen. Lee better devote the remaining years of his life than this task? War is not a gentle teacher. It is not surprising, therefor, that somehting of a spirit of insubordination should have been rife among the young soldiers returning to their homes from the hardships of camp life and the battlefield. Among them there was no widespread disposition to accept the verdict of Appomattox. What better opportunity could Gen. Lee have desired to impress upon them their duty to accept these results and to give their loyal support to the Union? To him there was no higher call to duty, no greater privilege.

“Gen. Lee’s estimate of the importance of this influence in the direction to which I have alluded can be judged from a passage in his letter of acceptance. In that letter, written in 1865, Gen. Lee said: ‘I think it is the duty of every citizen in the present condition of the ountry to do all in his power to aid in the restoration of peace and harmony. It is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the young to set them an example of submission to authority.’

“In the five years that Gen. Lee was spared to preside over this institution over 900 young men from all over the South were enrolled as students. Who can estimate the effect of his influence upon such a body of picked young men gathered from so many strategic points? Who can estimate how much it counted ‘the restoration of peace and harmony’ which he so earnestly sought?

“To emphasize this phase of the character and work of Roebrt E. Lee will be the feature of the celebration next week. Lee was a great college President. Over 500 of the students who idolized him are still living, and a large number of them have signified their intention of coming to Lexington to celebrate the centennial of his birth and their loyalty to the memory of the great Virginian.

“The occasion is one of National significance. Charles Francis Adams of Massachusetts will be the orator. In the history of this country Virginia and Massachusetts have always been closely connected. Great as have been their antagonisms at times, these eldest children of the Nation have for each other a profound respect and an essential affection. The ancestors of Lee and Adams were prominent in the Revolution, and their descendants took widely different views of the constitutional rights of a State during those exciting times that stirred the country half a century ago.

“But the day of sympathy and agreement has arrived, and now comes a distinguished citizen of Massachusetts to lay his tribute at the grave of Gen. Lee, against whom he once gought, but whose character he has always respected, as the peer of any known in modern times. I know of no more splendid spectacle in the history of the Nation, no surer sign that the day of sectional animosity has disappeared forever.”

The hotels and private residences of Lexington, it is expected, will be crowded during th celebration, as already hundreds of the old students, many of whom were here in Gen. Lee’s time, as well as a great crowd of Lee’s old soldiers, have signified their intention of taking part in the celebration. And in addition to these are coming many who were opponents in arms of the man whose memory will be honored in Lexington this week.