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Title: Letter from David M. Lees to Hugh M. Lees, March 17, 1829: Electronic Edition.
Author: Lees, David McMichen, 1807-1872
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 27K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-05-19, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: David McMichen Lees Papers (#3705), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from David M. Lees to Hugh M. Lees, March 17, 1829
Author: David M. Lees
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 3705 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Education/UNC Curriculum
Personal Relationships/With Family Members
Personal Relationships/With Students and Friends
Reading and Writing/Composition
Examples of Student Writing/Letters
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
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Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Lees reports to his brother on a visit with their sister in Hillsborough, NC. He offers advice on letter writing and spelling and urges that they care for their aunt and recently widowed mother.
Letter from David M. Lees to Hugh M. Lees, March 17, 18291
Lees, David McMichen, 1807-1872

Page 1
Chapel Hill March 17th 1829.

Dear Brother,

After a long, & perhaps I might say, a censurable delay I undertake to answer your friendly & satisfactory letter. I should feel very guilty of ingra(titude to you, & might justly incur deserve your reproach, for my past silence, had I not the following excuse to offer—the great pressure of business. I have been unusually busy since I wrote to Mother, & contrary to what was then the case, have had bad health—an extremely bad cold. Having a great deal to do, & but little health with which to perform these indispensable tasks I was necessarily obliged to postpone all matters which could be defered. My health has now improved & in consequence of this blessing I am permitted to pay a debt of love, though my college duties are still very urgent. William's letter has been received which gave me the pleasant information of the good health of my relations; but it appears that it lay a week or two in the office at Charlotte. It was written before the reception of the one I wrote to Mother or at least did not mention it. It also stated that McCulloch has dissented from the decission of the jury.2 I am very sorry to hear this. I hope however that he will become satisfied & cause us no more trouble, or that if he will proceed; that the court will stop him in his career. Could every man do right, how much happier might we live! Could any thing be done by reasoning the case with him, I think it would be advisable for William or some person who might have influence upon him, to consider the matter with him; for if he does proceed, there is no knowing where the matter will end. It is a most unfair & unjust, that he should be the first to be dissatisfied in this affair. But, Hugh, such is the disposition of man, such is the consequence of wealth. I was glad to learn from your letter that you got home in safety. You did not state how your money held out, which I should have been glad to have known. I got a letter from Caroline a few days ago. She was well & doing well, but seemed

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anxious to hear from home. Some of you ought to write to her. I have visited her once & written once & also sent your letter to her. I was well pleased on my visit to Hillsborough with her situation with respect to her boarding school &c. I have every reason to beleive she is doing well & will do well. In my letter to her, I was free in giving her advice on different subjects, which I also did when I went up to see her. On that occassion I had considerable satisfaction with the girls—had pleasant chat with them heard one play on the Pianna &c. They seemed glad to see me & were quit familiar. Caroline told me of their chat about you & myself—that they said I had on Jackson pantaloons but upon the whole looked pretty well—that they called you the brushy-headed man & was not quite so handsome as I. So Hugh you are in the back grouds. But I know not how they could admire either of us, for we both were certainly very dirty & shabily dressed. In fine, Hugh, they are right singular little animals. Being exceedingly busy I write this at different times, whenever a leisure moment offers itself; consequently since writing the above I have received Mother's & Jane's letter, which is a source of great delight to me, bringing news of a later date than William's, & observing that you are all still in health. I cannot proceed without first expressing my sincerest thanks to Mother for her token of affection in attempting to write to Caroline & myself, & giving her credit for the execution. I shall send the letter to Caroline as soon as possible. Permit me here to make a remark of some importance. It is as necessary that a letter at least in its outward appearance should be neat, that is consist of common letter paper, & be backed correctly, & folded up in the usual manner & of the usual size, as that a young person should be neatly & fashonably dressed when he appears in the company of strangers. This Hugh I intend to apply to all of you, as I often get letters from you which are of very coarse, unsuitable paper, & which have the directions on the back put on the wrong place, & the places to which they are directed incorrectly spelt.—For instance some3 of you spell Chapel Hill thus Chapilhill, others thus Chapple Hill, & some times thus Chaplehill. Now none of these is correct. This is the way to write it, Chapel Hill , making two words instead [of] one, each of which begins with a capital letter & the first having but one p in it. I believe I generally fold & back my letters in the fashonable way; if you can therefore condescend to take mine as pattern I think you would improve.4 Pay particular attention to them & imitate them exactly for it is of importance to write a nice letter & any person can succeed who takes the necessary pains. Now, it was not Mother's letter which suggested this remark, for it did indeed surpass my expectation; but I have often thought of making them. Hugh, permit me to advise you to read all that is in your power. Your situation perhaps will offer you opportunities to to do so, as I learn that you live with mother & oversee her lands. This is commendable

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in you, as we should do all we can for our Mother & take every burden off her hands which we can. She has been too much exposed for the last year to hardships. Mother's letter stated something about aunt Peggy, but I did not understand it. Hugh we ought to take care of her as she is the sister of our Father, who is now left lonely & helpless. She is an object of our pity & care, & it will be in after life a sweet consolation that we were kind to her, & gave her assistance in her hepless condition. We should overlook all imperfections in her & treat her as one of our near relations. Mother's letter also stated that S. Manson 5 is also dissatisfied with the division of the land. This I am truly sorry to hear. Hugh let it never be said of the rest of us that we [s]howed a contentious dispition [about] our Father's property. Let us in all our lives remember what Paul says with respect to a brother going to law against brother in the 6th chapter of 1st Corinthians,6 which read if you please.
Our Senior Report has not come out yet, but is expected shortly. When it does I shall let you know how matters stand. I endeavor to build no high expectations, & consequently hope not to be disappointed; indeed you nor myself should not entertain very high notions, on account of my bad health & late entrance into College. In about a week my class have to speak again our own compositions publickly. As soon as the throng of business is over I expect to go to Hillsborough again, which will [be per]haps about the 25th of April.
With respect to [my] coming home I have thought much, & cannot decide what would be the best. I would be extremely glad you & William & Margaret could come down to our commencement on the 2 5th of June, as much for your own gratification as our accomodation & pleassure. The stage will be throng with young men, so that it would not be convenient for both of us to take a passage with them; consequently if you do not come for Caroline we will have to stay untill the next stage—, nearly a week longer: & were some person to come for her I should be glad to go home with them. The plan then which I have thought of is this. If you cannot come so as to take both of us & our packages, for to get a chair to take her & her trunk, & bring a single horse for me, which one person could do. I will then send my trunk by the stage & go home horse back. If you cannot come to take either of us or both we will wait a week & come in in the stage, which however will cost us a great deal. If you or any person comes to take [us] home, you shall be at no expense. I should be glad you & any of the others could come at any [rate] merely to7 see our performances on that occassion, if you can spare the time & money. I want you to consider this matter, & tell me in your next what you can do, so that I may know in time how we are to get home. Recollect I wish you & the others to consult your own interest & feelings in this affair, & not mine. Remember me to all my friends. My next letter will be written to William, as soon as convenient after the Report is read. I wish you much pleasure & success among the fair ones of Providence & in every thing else. My best love to Mother & all the family, & Hugh believe me to be

Your sincere & loving brother

David M. Lees

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P S. You will find a piece of paper here enclosed which please give to William. My respects to him & Mary. I could write much more but have not time.


D. M. Lees .

Stop! I must send my respects to all my young female friends.


1. David McMichen Lees Papers, SHC. The letter is addressed "Mr. Hugh M. Lees/ Charlotte/ Mecklenburg Co./ No Carolina." The upper left corner shows a circular post mark with "CHAPL HILL NC" in the outer circle and MAR inside the circle; the date is unrecovered. A second hand has written the amount of postage "18 3/8" in the upper right corner.
David was the second oldest child in a large family. The siblings mentioned in this letter include Hugh, a younger brother; William, David's older brother; and Caroline, probably Elizabeth C. , a sister attending school in Hillsborough, NC. Elizabeth C. married Moses Hart. Other siblings were Margaret , who married Stephen D. Manson; Jane , who married Capt. James H. Davis; and Dorcas , who married Washington Miller.

2. Lees may be referring to a dispute over his father's estate. A letter in the David McMichen Lees Papers dated February 11, 1828, from David's older brother William discusses their father's last sickness and death on February 9, 1828.

3. Lees wrote some on top of you.

4. Prior to the introduction of separate envelopes in the 1840s, a letter was folded and sealed in such a way that made an outer wrapper unnecessary. A sheet of paper measuring 15 3/4 by 9 1/2 inches would be folded in half to provide four surfaces, each measuring 7 7/8 by 9 1/2 inches. Quires of paper were sold already folded into such folios. The letter would begin on the first page of the folio and might continue on the inside surfaces. The last leaf typically would remain blank (or might contain a brief postscript). With the salutation face up, the writer would fold the bottom and top two inches toward the center of the letter. Then two to three inches of the right side of the paper (the right margin) would be folded in toward the center; the final fold would bring one to two inches of the left side of the paper (the left margin) toward the center to overlap the right margin. The folded letter, now measuring slightly larger than three-by-five inches, would then be turned over and addressed. Once addressed, it would be turned over again and sealed with wax where the left and right edges of the letter overlapped. Sometimes a sealing wafer was used instead of wax. In that case, the wafer was placed under the upper flap of the closed packet. See Joe Nickell, Pen, Ink, & Evidence (Lexington: The University of Kentucky Press, 1990).

5. Stephen D. Manson was married to David's sister Margaret .

6. I Corinthians 6:4-6: "If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers."

7. Lees wrote to on top of fo.