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A lady living in New York wrote to General Lee in 1867, asking for acatalogue of Washington College and a copy of its charter and laws.She wished also to know whether or not the college was sectarian,and, if so, of what denomination. She intimated that she desired tomake a donation to some institution of learning, and was rather inclinedto select the Episcopal Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, Virginia.The president sent her the following reply to her letter:
"Lexington, Virginia, June 24, 1867.
"Miss Ann Upshur Jones, No. 156 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y.
"My Dear Madam: I have had the honour to receive your letter of the17th inst., and I send to your address a catalogue of WashingtonCollege and a copy of its charter and laws. On the thirty-seventhpage of the former, and the eleventh of the latter, you will find whatis prescribed on the subject of religion. I do not know that it everhas been sectarian in its character since it was chartered as acollege; but it certainly is not so now. Located in a Presbyteriancommunity, it is natural that most of its trustees and faculty shouldbe of that denomination, though the rector, president, and severalof the professors are members of the Episcopal Church. It is furthestfrom my wish to divert any donation from the Theological Seminaryat Alexandria, for I am well acquainted with the merits of thatinstitution, have a high respect for its professors, and am an earnestadvocate of its object. I only give you the information you desire,and wish you to follow your own preferences in the matter. Withgreat respect,
"Your obedient servant,
"R. E. Lee."
In 1869 she wrote again, stating that she proposed breaking uphousekeeping, that she had no family to whom to give her books,furniture, and silver, that she did not wish to sell them nor storethem away, and had therefore determined to present them to the "greatestliving man," and she begged him to accept them, or, if his house wasalready furnished, to make use of them in his college. To this letterhe replied:
"Lexington, Virginia, February 13, 1869.
"My Dear Miss Jones: After long and diligent inquiry I only thismoment learned your address, and have been during this time greatlymortified at my inability to acknowledge the receipt and dispositionof your valuable and interesting donation to Washington College. Thebooks were arranged in the library on their arrival, the globes inthe philosophical department, while the furniture, carpets, sofas,chairs, etc., have been applied to the furnishing of the dais of theaudience-room of the new chapel, to the comfort and ornament of whichthey are a great addition. I have yet made no disposition of theplate and tableware, and they are still in the boxes in which theycame. I inclose the resolution of thanks passed by the Board ofTrustees of the College at their annual meeting, to which I beg toadd my personal acknowledgments and grateful sense of your favourand kindness to this institution. It would give me great pleasureif you would visit Lexington at the commencement in June next, thethird Thursday, that I might then show you the successful operationof the college. Mrs. Lee joins me in sentiments of esteem and regard,praying that the great and merciful God may throw around you Hisprotecting care and love. I am, with great respect,
"Your obedient servant,
"Miss Ann Upshur Jones, No. 38 Union Square, New York."
The plate, tableware, and a curious old work-table, for which noplace could be found in the college, valuable only on account of theirantiquity and quaintness, he finally allowed to be called his own.