Anne Hill Carter Lee (1773–1829), the mother of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, impressed upon her sons the importance of writing letters. She admonished her second son, Smith: "A man that cannot write a good letter on business or on the subject of familiar letters will make an awkward figure in every situation and will find himself greatly at a loss on any occasion. Indeed I cannot imagine how he could pass through life with satisfaction and respectability."
Smith Lee never took letter writing seriously; brother Robert did. He advised his youngest daughter: "It is said that our letters are good representatives of our minds . . . They certainly present a good criterion for judging the character of the individual. You must be careful that yours make as favorable an impression of you as I hope you will deserve."