Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XII: Lee's Opinion upon the Late War: Called before a committee of Congress

The Document

During the last days of February he was summoned to Washington to appear before a committee of Congress which was inquiring into the conditions of things in the Southern States, with a view to passing some of the so-called reconstruction measures. His testimony was simple, direct, and dignified, and is well worth reading by all who wish to hear the plain truth. It was his first appearance in any city save Richmond since the war, and being at a time of such political excitement, his visit was an occasion of absorbing interest to the crowds then in the capital.

When in Washington, Armanda, one of the house-servants at Arlington, called on him but failed to see him. In answer to a letter from her, my father replies as follows:

"Lexington, Virginia, March 9, 1866.

"Amanda Parks.

"Amanda: I have received your letter of the 27th ult., and regret very much that I did not see you when I was in Washington. I heard on returning to my room, Sunday night, that you had been to see me; and I was sorry to have missed you, for I wished to learn how you were, and how all the people from Arlington were getting on in the world. My interest in them is as great now as it ever was, and I sincerely wish for their happiness and prosperity. At the period specified in Mr. Custis's will--five years from the time of his death-- I caused the liberation of all the people at Arlington, as well as those at the White House and Romancoke, to be recorded in the Hustings Court at Richmond; and letters of manumission to be given to those with whom I could communicate who desired them. In consequence of the war which then existed, I could do nothing more for them. I do not know why you should ask if I am angry with you. I am not aware of your having done anything to give me offense, and I hope you would not say or do what was wrong. While you lived at Arlington you behaved very well, and were attentive and faithful to your duties. I hope you will always conduct yourself in the same manner. Wishing you health, happiness, and success in life, I am truly,

"R. E. Lee."

Preaches patience and silence in the South

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How to cite this article

Lee, Robert E. jr., The Recollections & Letters of Robert E. Lee, webpage created by Rickard, J (8 June 2006),

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