On Robert E. Lee’s 205th Birthday January 19, 2012: “Our trusted self-government is fast becoming the jeer and laughing stock of the world”, R.I.P, General Lee!


http://leearchive.wlu.edu/papers/letters/transcripts-carter/a%20c005.html *(see especially bold emphasis sections of paragraph after mentioning the inauguration of Governor Bowie).

Sender: Robert E. Lee
Recipient: Annette Carter

[Lexington, Virginia] [28 March 1868]

I write to you in great alarm. I have just heard of Mildred’s engagement, and see nothing between you and the same fate. I beg that you will come on here immediately that I may endeavor to protect you from these voracious young men. Your father seems to be pointless in the matter and looks quietly on the abstraction of all his daughters. We hear from all quarters of the perfect happiness of Mary and of the absorbing love she has for my Cousin Ben, and now that Mildred has found her Adonis, I tremble for you. Tell your father that I see no safety for you but with me, and that he must send you up as soon as possible. Do not say as in your last letter that you “do not know when any of us will get to Lexington again.” You must come and spend the whole summer, and go with us wherever we go. I want to get to Goodwood, and to see you all so much, but you know I can go nowhere now. My only hope therefore is for you to come here. Agnes writes that she is going to see you soon. You must return with her, you sweet Annette, let me see you again. Traveller and Lucy are both ready for the road. I trust I will have many pleasant rides with you over the mountains. Your father will want to go to the W. Sulphur this summer and he must leave you here with us. When will Alice go to Annapolis?

I am so glad that Mr. Bowie was made Governor and was so pleased with his inaugural address. It was in good taste and good temper and expressed true principles. If the country is ever restored to proper Republican government, it must be through the several states. They must unite, not only for their protection, but for the destruction of this grand scheme of centralization of power in the hands of one branch of the government to the ruin of all others, and the annihilation of the Constitution, the liberty of the people and of the country. If the good and true men in each state will lay aside party and selfish inter[ests and continue] in that course which reason . . . may show as the only true [course in this] country to follow, all will [yet be saved.] If they do not, there will so [in my] opinion be an end of Republic[anism] on this continent. I have but [little] time to stay here, and therefore shall [be] little effected no matter how events turn, but I grieve posterity, for American principles and American liberty. Our trusted self government is fast becoming the jeer and laughing stock of the world.

We have had a hard winter in the mountains and this month has been particularly cold and uncomfortable, but the storm which has been raging all this week I believe is now at an end and there is a prospect of the return of the glorious sun which will soon make all things bright. Not withstanding the inclement Spring, the fields are green, the buds are shooting forth, the violets have appeared, and the songs of the birds are added to the thankfulness of man that Winter has passed. . . . [It] has been a quiet winter with us. . . . Mildred [who has kept] the domestic machine in [full] motion is in her usual indomitable condition. Her ad[ministra]tions to the students, cadets, professors and young men of Lexington I hope have been duly appreciated. I am sure she must have been a fountain of comfort to the young mothers and housekeepers who are anxiously studying the best way of rearing their children and administering their household. If they have gained no knowledge it has not been her fault. She has been somewhat exercised by a mass of feminine flesh in the form of Miss Mary Dixon this current month but she hopes to be relieved on the 1st of April and I hope so too. All unite with me in much love, but no one loves you Annette as much as your Cousin. . . .

R. E. Lee

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