Robert E. Lee Letter To His Son

 

This Site:

Civil War

Civil War Overview

Civil War 1861

Civil War 1862

Civil War 1863

Civil War 1864

Civil War 1865

Civil War Battles

Confederate Generals

Union Generals

Confederate History

Robert E. Lee

Civil War Medicine

Lincoln Assassination

Slavery

Site Search

Civil War Links

 

Civil War Art

Revolutionary War

Mexican War

Republic of Texas

Indians

Winslow Homer

Thomas Nast

Mathew Brady

Western Art

Civil War Gifts

Robert E. Lee Portrait

About Robert E. Lee

A Letter to His Son

 Robert E. Lee Biography | Robert E. Lee Quotes | Robert E. Lee Pictures | Robert E. Lee's Childhood | Robert E. Lee in Texas | Robert E. Lee's Religious Views | Lee on Slavery | Robert E. Lee's Farewell | Lee's Recollections & Letters | To His Son | To His Daughter | Robert E. Lee in Harper's Weekly | Lee Time Line | Lee Obituary | Robert E. Lee's Slave | Lee's Essential Writings | Lee's Surrender at Appomattox | Lee's Daughter Arrested | Lee's Nicknames | Robert E. Lee's Position on Arming the Slaves | Robert E. Lee Digital Library 

Robert E. Lee

A Letter to His Son

You must study to be frank with the world. Frankness is the child of honesty and courage. Say just what you mean to do, on every occasion, and take it for granted that you mean to do right. If a friend asks a favor, you should grant it, if it is reasonable; if not, tell him plainly why you cannot; you would wrong him and wrong yourself by equivocation of any kind.

Never do a wrong thing to make a friend or keep one; the man who requires you to do so is dearly purchased at the sacrifice. Deal kindly but firmly with all your classmates; you will find it the policy which wears best. Above all, do not appear to others what you are not.

If you have any fault to find with any one, tell him, not others, of what you complain; there is no more dangerous experiment than that of undertaking to be one thing before a man's face and another behind his back.

Photograph of Robert E. Lee and his Son

Robert E. Lee (seated) is pictured shortly after the War.  On the left of the picture is his son, General George Washington Custis Lee, and on the right is his chief of staff, Colonel Walter H. Taylor

 We should live, act, and say nothing to the injury of any one. It is not only for the best as a matter of principle, but it is the path of peace and honor.

In regard to duty, let me, in conclusion of this hasty letter, inform you that nearly a hundred years ago there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness -- still known as "the dark day" -- a day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished, as if by an eclipse.

The Legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that the last day -- the day of judgment -- had come. Some one, in the consternation of the hour, moved an adjournment.

Then there arose an old Puritan legislator, Davenport, of Stamford, and said that, if the last day had come, he desired to be found at his place doing his duty, and therefore moved that candles be brought in, so that the House could proceed with its duty.

There was quietness in that man's mind, the quietness of heavenly wisdom and inflexible willingness to obey present duty. Duty, then, is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things like the old Puritan. You cannot do more; you should never wish to do less. Never let your mother or me wear one gray hair for any lack of duty on your part.

 

 

site stats

 

Site Copyright 2003-2014 Son of the South. For Questions or comments about this collection,

contact: paul@sonofthesouth.net

privacy policy

Are you Scared and Confused? Read My Snake Story, a story of hope and encouragement, to help you face your fears.