Robert E. Lee advises friend to hire whites only, Lee thinks African Americans make things worse.
This is from the “Recollections and Letters of General Lee,” by his son, R.E. Lee, Jr. which was published by Doubleday, Page & Company in 1904. The following is a section about R.E. Lee Sr. visiting “Corbin Braxton’s widow” for dinner with some friends and his son gives an account on page 168 of the 1988 reprint by Broadfoot Publishing Co. In reading the book it is not clear exactly when this occured, but it was at some time right after the Civil War, but before he became president of Washington College.
Extract from the book:
…. a repast composed of all the good things for which that country was famous. John and I did not seem to think there was too much in sight—at any rate, it did not daunt us, and we did our best to lessen the quantity, consuming, I think, our share and more! We had been for so many years in the habit of being hungry that it was not strange we continued to be so awhile yet. But my father took a different view of the abundance displayed, and, during his drive back, said to Colonel Carter.: “Thomas, there was enough dinner today for twenty people. All this will now have to be changed; you cannot afford it; we shall have to practice economy.”
In talking with Colonel Carter about the situation of farmers at that time in the South, and of their prospects for the future, he urged him to get rid of the negroes left on the farm―some ninety-odd in number, principally women and children, with a few old men―saying the government would provide for them, and advised him to secure white labour. The Colonel told him he had to use, for immediate needs, such force as he had, being unable at that time to get the whites. Were upon General Lee remarked:
“I have always observed that wherever you find the negro, everything is going down around him, and wherever you find the white man, you see everything around him improving.”