Ap. 13th 1866

 

                                    New Orleans

 

To

            Genl R. E. Lee

                                    Dear Sir

                                                            Prof. Harris writes me that certain Editorials concerning my Agency have grieved you.  I feared this and cautioned all the Editors not to say anything that wd place you before the public as an applicant for pecuniary favors.  Still I am myself to blame in this matter, for want of explicitness in private statements to certain editors.  For instance I remarked to the Editors of the “Commercial” that you had stated to me that the press of Memphis had made a very favorable reference to yr. College and that influence by yr remark I had decided that Memphis was the point to lead on the Endowment Effort.  The objectionable public statements upon this point were made upon this private statement of mine

            As to yr. “declining numerous offers” the trustees in forming you that “they would have to look to yr friends to endow yr. chair” – yr. being “driven into a cabin”  etc   These were floating rumors & statements of others for which I am not responsible.

            In future I shall insist upon nothing being said by friendly editors inconsistent wk.  Prof Harris’ statement of yr views & feelings in the premises.  My object in calling on you before leaving was to learn from you how far the press might employ yr name in advocating the Endowment.  I did not explicitly ask such a statement because I thought if you had felt and apprehension on the subject you would not have guarded me.

            But Genl, the whole country knows you & no local editorials could induce any one to believe that in lending yr. influence to the upbuilding of a College, you were actuated by a “desire to increase your salary.”  The Southern people wish & if the Trustees will cooperate with them, they are determined that you shall endow this College by this agency.  They say there is a dignity, a delicacy & a disinterestedness in lending yr name to such a cause that must be appreciated by all.  Moreover it is understood by every body that there is no difficulty on yr. part in obtaining positions that wd at once, render you wealthy, if money were a ruling end wh. you.  There is not a businessman in any commercial city that could not abundantly afford to give you $20,000 pr. an. merely for the use of yr name as partner in his business; at least so business men tell me.  Now, in this light how could a newspaper command public credence by unguardedly having room for the supposition of yr. being “anxious to increase yr salary.”

            With sincere desire that nothing more may occur to offend you

                                                            I remain, wh. great respect

                                                                        Very sincerely

                                                                                    Yrs. etc

                                                                        Edward Payson Walton

 

Notation on reverse in General Lee’s handwriting:

            13 Apl ‘66

Revd E. P. Walton

in reference to “Editor

ials in relation to

the endowment of

Washington College