In the northeast part of authentic Virginia, where the Chesapeake Bay cuts deeply into the American land, the county of Westmoreland lies like a sort of peninsula between two powerful rivers -- the Potomac and the Rappahannock -- whose slightly barbarous names we will encounter frequently. Their reaches are known for their fertility in this America that seems fertility itself. Initially covered with impenetrable forests, they now produce tobacco and cereals in profusion. But the islands scattered along the river's course still carry centennial maple trees. The hills have preserved the deep shadows of bygone days. No other land succeeds in being, at the same time, richer and more picturesque.
It is in an old mansion settled between the two rivers, on the edge of the woods conquered long ago by the English settlers over the Indian tribes, that, on January 19th, 1807, Robert Edward Lee was born. His family was of English descent. Two hundred years before, one of his ancestors, sent by King Charles II to govern the Province of Virginia, had become attached to the new world and had made it his definite home.
His sons and grandsons had all been public-minded. They
- Potomac : River of the Swans.