Lot 131 of 395:
ALs about 1843 Murder of Robert E. Lee  

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Lot closed - unsold
$500 - $800

Manuscript-length Autograph Letter Signed about the 1843 Murder of Robert E. Lee

Peyton, Dr. Robert E.

Gordons Dale, [Virginia]


September 13, 1843


10 pp. + stampless address leaf.

To his brother-in-law General Walter Jones, Washington, D.C. Concerning the trial of Richard Moore for the murder of 33 year-old Robert Eden Lee in the streets of Warrenton, Virginia on July 24.  Jones was married to the victim’s sister, and Peyton was married to Jones’ sister, so both men were “disgusted” when Moore was acquitted.  Another close relative who undoubtedly followed the trial from a distance was Robert Edward Lee, the future Confederate commander in the coming Civil War, then Captain of Engineers at a Fort near New York City. The deceased was his first cousin, the son of Captain Lee’s uncle Charles, who had served as Attorney General of the United States under George Washington.  Walter Jones himself, once a General in the War of 1812, was a nationally-renowned Washington lawyer, a protégé of Thomas Jefferson and legal peer of Daniel Webster and Henry Clay. So Peyton, who attended the trial, knew that Jones expected this blow-by-blow account of the courtroom proceedings, which recapitulated the confrontation, a virtual duel with pistols, between Robert Eden Lee and Moore on the steps of the Warrenton Court House after a long-simmering legal dispute between their families.  Peyton goes into great detail, from the selection of the judges to the four-day testimony of some forty witnesses, the attempt of the “feeble” Defense to portray Lee as “a spirited and fractious young man…disposed to avail himself of deadly weapons in any conflict” and then the surprising verdict. This letter may be the only surviving historical account of Lee’s death and Moore’s trial. Full transcript of the 3000-word text available on request.

Lot Amendments

Yellow soiling to bottom corners of each leaf, many small tears at edges, not affecting text, tape repairs to many folds, stampless address leaf most tattered; good or very good.

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