Talladega, Ala. Jany. 20th 1866
Genl R. E. Lee
President of Washington College
In common with your fellow countrymen of the South, I rejoice that you have consented to assume a position, in which you may spend the remainder of your honoured life, in the quiet, and honourable work pf educating our noble young men.
I trust the Legislature of your venerable Commonwealth, will respond favourably & promptly to the plan for enlarging the endowments of your college proposed through you.
The ravages of the war just ended, has left many of us without sons to educate, more without present means for educating those who were spared. Yet with proper efforts, our colleges may be re-endowed and our children educated, within our own country, & by professors & teachers, of our own country, by birth, education, moral instincts, and habits of thought.
I have one son only left me, now near fifteen years of age; my eldest & only other son, living when the war began, having fallen at one of the guns of the Washington, N. O. Artillery, near Drury=s Bluff, on the 16th of May 1864.
My surviving son, so soon, as he learned you had accepted the Presidency of Washington College, expressed a strong desire, that I should send him there, as soon as he was prepared to enter. I propose gratifying him, if it is possible for me to meet the expenses; provided, non residents of the State of Virginia are allowed to enter that college. It was formerly a State Military College, & I have an impression that its privileges were limited to the Sons of residents of the State. I write for information on that Subject: If I am mistaken in this, then be pleased to inform me , 1st What sum per annum, will cover the entire expenses, except for clothing & traveling. 2nd Whither the course of instruction is upon the plan of the University of Virginia, or that of the ordinary college curriculum of four years, at the end of which the degree of A. B. is conferred?
I do not expect to send my son off before the summer or fall of the present year, perhaps not so soon as that, the time depending upon the fitness of his preparation. A particular statement of the extent of preparation in the languages & mathematics, necessary for entering in the lowest class, & of the progress required for each succeeding year will be thankfully received.
What is the population of Lexington; To what extent, if any has the Town been destroyed; Is it likely to maintain its former reputation for healthfulness, & for high moral & religious tone?
With an apology for the length of this communication, & the expression of a desire that any response you may be pleased to make, shall accord with your own convenience and leisure.
I am very respectfully
Your obt. Servt
Geo. S. Walden
Notation on reverse in General Lee=s handwriting:
Alabama 20 Jany >66
Geo: S. Walden
Ansd 1 Feb