Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee

Chapter XVI: An Advisor of Young Men: Lee's policy as college president

The Document

The college exercises were resumed in the last weeks of September. My mother and sisters were all back at home. The President's work, now more in hand, began to show results. The number of students this session was largely increased and the outlook of the college was very much brighter.

"He had from the beginning of his presidency a distinct policy and plan which he had fully conceived and to which he steadily adhered, so that all his particular measures of progress were but consistent steps in its development. His object was nothing less than to establish and perfect an institution which should meet the highest needs of education in every department. At once, and without waiting for the means to be provided in advance, he proceeded to develop this object. Under his advice, new chairs were created, and professors called to fill them, so that before the end of the first year the faculty was doubled in numbers. Still additional chairs were created, and finally a complete system of 'schools' was established and brought into full operation. So admirably was the plan conceived and administered by General lee, that, heterogeneous as were the students, especially in the early years, each one found his proper place, and all were kept in line of complete and systematic study. Under this organisation, and especially under the inspiration of his central influence, the utmost harmony and utmost energy pervaded all the departments of the college. The highest powers of both professors and students were called forth, under the fullest responsibility. The standards of scholarship were rapidly advanced; and soon the graduates of Washington College were the acknowledged equals of those from the best institutions elsewhere, and were eagerly sought after for the highest positions as teachers in the best schools. The results...were due directly and immediately, more than to all other causes, to the personal ability and influence of General Lee as president of the college."

Next: His advice on agricultural matters

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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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