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[57]

Arlington, the home of Lee, from the great oak The beautiful estate by the Potomac came to General Lee from the family of George Washington. While Lee, as a boy and youth, lived in Alexandria he was a frequent caller at the Arlington estate, where Mary Lee Custis, the only daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, was his companion and playfellow. Before he had completed his course at West Point the friendship had ripened into love and the two became engaged. Her father is said to have considered her entitled to a more wealthy match than young Lee, who looked forward to a career in the army. But in 1831, two years after his graduation, the ceremony was performed and on the death of Custis in 1857, the estate passed into the possession of Robert E. Lee as trustee for his children. The management had already been in his hands for many years, and though constantly absent on duty, he had ordered it so skilfully that its value steadily increased. On the outbreak of the Civil War and his decision to cast in his lot with Virginia, he was obliged to leave the mansion that overlooked the national capital. It at once fell into the hands of Federal troops. Nevermore was he to dwell in the majestic home that had sheltered his family for thirty years. When the war was over, he gave the Pamunkey estate to his son Robert and himself retired to the quiet, simple life of Lexington, Virginia, as president of the institution that is now known, in his honor, as Washington and Lee University.

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