Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/366

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358 Southern Historical Society Papers,

educator : He said Colonel Bolivar Christian, himself, and several others were talking together some time in the summer of 1865 in Staunton, Va. The subject of their conversation was what business would suit a certain ex -Confederate officer, when one of the group said, and what shall we do for General Lee ? and Baldwin answered, make him president of Washington College. Colonel Christian, who was a trustee of Washington College, approved the suggestion and at the next meeting of the board of trustees, August, 1865, nomi- nated Lee as such. He was unanimously elected, and was inaugu- rated as president October 2, 1865. I have it on credible authority that at first he hesitated, modestly distrusting his qualifications as an instructor, but when he ascertained that a general superintendence of the studies and discipline would only be required of him he accepted. The wisdom of his selection was soon manifested. When he entered upon the duties of the presidency of the institution there were but four professors and forty students. The latter rapidly increased. I know the fact that a number of ex -Confederate soldiers came even from distant States to Washington College because General Lee was its president. He gave over five years of his life to education, his presidency extending from October 2, 1865, to the time of his death, October 10, 1870. In that period his college took giant strides, in- creasing ten-fold in the number of its students. In 1869 and 1870 there were about four hundred students. Through General Lee*s influence mainly three new chairs were established, viz., Physics, Mathematics, and Modern Languages, which included astronomy, en- gineering and English philology. Before his death instruction in Law was added to the curriculum of his college.


The writer of this represented Rockbridge and Nelson in the Vir- ginia State Senate in the years 1865, 1866 and 1867. In the former county was situated the college of which General Lee was president. His desire to subserve its interests caused him to seek my acquaint- ance. In the early part of December, 1865, I took my seat in the Senate, and soon after was informed that General Lee was in Rich- mond, and desired to see me with regard to getting some legislative assistance for Washington College. Having served under him as a soldier, and having for him that intense admiration which all of his soldiers had, I needed no stimulus to call promptly on him. He desired me to aid in procuring the passage of a law by the Legis- lature by which the interest, or a portion of it, on the debt of the