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[72]

Late in March and early in April, the Federals made Lee's position untenable, and he pressed on to Amelia Court House, where the expected supplies failed him, Richmond having meanwhile surrendered on April 3, 1865. Grant, drawing near, sent Lee on April 7th a courteous call to surrender. Lee, still hoping against hope for supplies, asked Grant's terms. Before the final surrender he took his chance of breaking through the opposing lines, but found them too strong. Then he sent a flag of truce to Grant, and a little before noon on April 9th held a meeting with him in a house at Appomattox Court House. It is superfluous to say that in his bearing at the interview and in the terms he offered his exhausted foes, Grant illustrated as completely the virtue of magnanimity as Lee did that of dignified resignation.

With tears in his eyes, Lee told his ragged but still undaunted veterans that their cause was lost. Then he issued a noble address to the survivors of his army, received visits from old friends among his opponents, and rode away on ‘Traveller’ toward Richmond. In the fallen capital, even the Federal troops greeted him with enthusiasm, and he was at last once more in the bosom of his family. In June, he went to the country for rest, and later in the summer he accepted the presidency of Washington College at Lexington, now Washington and Lee University. He had previously refused many gifts and offers of positions which seemed tainted by mercenary considerations.

As a college president, General Lee both in character and in poise of intellect ranks with the first. During the five years of his administration the institution prospered financially, and the course of studies was liberally enlarged, no narrow military conceptions being allowed to prevail. He was as beloved by his students as he had been by his soldiers, and he was content with his small sphere of influence, declining most wisely to accept the governorship of the State and a political career

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