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George Washington Custis Lee

President, Washington and Lee University, 1871-1897

George Washington Custis Lee, a son of Washington College President Robert E. Lee, was born in 1832 at Fort Monroe, Va. He graduated first in his class at West Point in 1854. He received a commission in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and in 1859 became a full first lieutenant. In 1861, he resigned from the army after Virginia seceded from the Union.

Lee served in the Virginia state forces for a short time and then became a captain in the Confederate Army, becoming a major general in 1864. Toward the end of the war, he commanded troops in the field, and was captured at Sayler‘s Creek three days before his father surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

In 1865, the Virginia Military Institute hired him as a professor. He left VMI after the death of his father to become the ninth president of Washington and Lee. Upon his death, on Feb. 18, 1913, the University trustees resolved that "his administration witnessed periods of depression in the affairs of the University calculated to make the stoutest heart lose courage; yet at no time did he lose confidence in the work to which he put his hand." Lee is buried in Lee Chapel with his family.