ARLINGTON, VA., April 20, 1861.
My Dear Brother Smith:
The question which was the subject of my earnest consultation with you on the 18th inst. has in my own mind been decided. After the most anxious inquiry as to the correct course for me to pursue, I concluded to resign, and sent in my resignation this morning. I wished to wait till the ordinance of secession should be acted upon by the people of Virginia; but war seems to have commenced, and I am liable at any time to be ordered on duty which I could not conscientiously perform. To save me from such a position, and to prevent the necessity of resigning under orders, I had to act at once, and before I could see you again on the subject, as I had wished. I am now a private citizen, and have no other ambition than to remain at home. Save in the defense of my native State, I have no desire ever again to draw my sword. I send you my warmest love.
Your affectionate brother,
R. E. LEE.
SOURCE: John William Jones, Life and Letters of Robert Edward Lee: Soldier and Man, p. 134