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My father earnestly desired a
quiet, informal inauguration, and his wish was gratified. On October
2, 1865, in the presence of the trustees, professors and students, after
solemn and appropriate prayer by the Rev. W. S. White, D. D., the
oldest Christian minister in the town [the father of Professor (or
Captain) White], he took the oath of office as required by the laws
of the college, and was thus legally inaugurated as its president.
On October 3d he wrote my mother:]
...I am glad to hear that Rob is improving, and hope you had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dana [Our old pastor of Christ's Church, Alexandria, the trusted friend of my grandmother and mother, who had baptised all the children at Arlington].... The college opened yesterday, and a fine set of youths, about fifty, made their appearance in a body. It is supposed that many more will be coming during the month. The scarcity of money everywhere embarrasses all proceedings. General Smith informs me that the Military Institute will commence its exercises on the 16th inst.; and that Custis was unanimously elected to the chair of Civil Engineering [The Virginia Military Institute, a State institution, modelled after the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, was located in Lexington, and its grounds adjoined those of Washington College. Since its foundation in 1839, unto this time, General F. H. Smith had been its superintendent.]. I am living at the Lexington Hotel, and he must come there if he comes up.... The ladies have furnished me a very nice room in the college for my office; new carpet from Baltimore, curtains, etc. They are always doing something kind.... I came up September 30th from the Baths. Annie and Miss Belle still there and very well. They expect to be here on the 10th.... You tell me nothing of the girls. I hope Agnes is getting strong and fat. I wished for them both at the Baths. Annie and Belle were my only companions. I could not trespass upon them always. The scenery is beautiful here, but I fear it will be locked up in winter by the time you come. Nothing could be more beautiful than the mountains now....
Most affectionately, R. E. Lee.
- Robert E. Lee