St. Louis, 20th Aug 1838


My dear Cassius & Cousin,


     I believe I once spoke to you on the Subject of getting for one the Crest, Coat of Arms etc. of the Lee family, and which Sure enough you never did. My object in making the request is for the purpose of having a seal cut with the impression of said coat, which I think is due from a man of my large family to his posterity, and which I have thought, perhaps foolishly enough, might as well be right as wrong. If therefore you can assist one in this laudable enterprise, I shall be much obliged, and by enveloping it securely, directed to me at this place, and sending it either by mail or some safe hand to Genl Gratiot, Engr office, Washington City, without any word or farther direction it will safely come to hand. I once saw in the hands of Cousin Edmund, for the only time in my life our family tree, and as I begin in my old age to feel a little curiosity relative to my forefathers, their origin whereabouts etc. any information you can give me will increase the obligation. So Sit down some of these hot evgs and write it off for me, or at any rate the substance, and tell my cousin Philipa not to let you forget it. I wish you would at the Same time underceive her on a certain point in which as I understand She is labouring under a grevious error. Tell her it is the farthest from my wish to detract from any of the little Lees, but as to her little boy being equal to Mr. Rooney it is a thing not to be even supposed, much less believed, although in a credulous country where people stick at nothing from a Coon story to a Sea Serpent. You must remember us particularly to her, to Uncle Edmund, Cousins Sally Hannah and all the Lloyds.


     I believe I can tell you nothing doing here that would interest you, except that we are all well although my dame has been little complaining for a day or two. The elections are all over, the Vanites[1] have carried the day in the State, although the whigs in this district carried their entire ticket, and you will have the pleasure of hearing the great expunger[2] again, thunder from his place in the Senate against Banks, bribery & corruption, & what not. While on the river I cannot help being on the look out for that ‘Stream of Gold’ that was to ascend the Mississippi, tied up in silk net purses! It would be a pretty sight, but the tide has not yet made up here. Let me know whether you can enlighten me on the point in question.


     And believe me yours very truly,


R E Lee



Source: The Archives of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation, Lee Family Papers, Box 6, M2009.191, Jessie Ball duPont Library, Stratford Hall


Transcribed by Colin Woodward, 2015 October 20



[1] Lee is referring to the Democrats and followers of Martin Van Buren.

[2] Thomas Hart Benton, senator from Missouri and an opponent of the national bank. He led an “expungement campaign” in 1837 to lift the censure against Andrew Jackson for canceling the charter of Bank of the United States in 1834. He was also a hard money advocate to the point he was nicknamed “Old Bullion,” hence Lee’s joke about purses filled with gold sailing past him along the Mississippi.