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    Robert E. Lee Autograph Letter Signed Accompanied By A Mitchell & Tyler, Virginia State Seal Button From His Uniform. One page, 5" x 8", Lexington [Virginia], February 29, 1868. Following his surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1865, General Lee was neither arrested nor punished. On the contrary, he was offered a number or lucrative positions hoping to bank on his illustrious name. One position appealed to the famous general, however, and that was as president of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University).

    Lee accepted the post for several reasons. First, he had familial connections with the Washington family through his wife Mary, a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, and he held a great admiration for General George Washington. Also, being a former superintendent of the United States Military Academy, he had experience in the management of a facility for higher learning. But what drove him overall was the belief that he could use his position to help reunite the country. To that end, he recruited students not only from the South, but from the Northern states as well.

    Here, Lee writes to Fannie A. Bell, in full: "I am very glad to have it in any power to comply with your request of the 22nd. I send you a button which I wore on my coat during the late war. It has on it the arms of Virginia which I hope will not make it less acceptable in your eyes. Sympathizing sincerely with your mother & yourself, in the heavy sorrow which has fallen upon you both in the death of your father." Very light, scattered foxing spots; folds have weakened slightly and have started to separate along the edges. The text is bright and Lee's signature is bold. Included with the letter is the two piece, brass coat button Lee makes mention of in his letter, featuring the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia on the front with a "Mitchell & Tyler/Richmond VA" backmark.

    Lee held the position as president from 1865 until his death in 1870. The name of the school was changed shortly after his death in honor of his contribution to the school.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2012
    8th Saturday
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