Valentine C. Saunders Collection
Letter from Cadet Saunders to his parents is the oldest extant letter written by a VMI cadet. Dated November 30, 1839, shortly after the first cadets arrived in Lexington, the letter provides a cadet's view of the newly established Institute. Saunders describes the arsenal; relationship with Washington College; the method of instruction; course of studies; gives his opinion (favorable) of Superintendent Francis H. Smith. Collection also contains Saunders' copy of a published address by Francis H. Smith "The Inner Life of the VMI Cadet" (1866).
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Biographical / Historical
Valentine Cook Saunders was born on November 15, 1820, at Leesburg, Virginia, the son of Everitt Saunders and Susan Bashaw. He entered VMI on November 11, 1839 and graduated July 4, 1842, standing 12th of 16 graduates. After graduation he began a career as a teacher, which he continued until his death on December 21, 1894, at Leesburg, VA. He was an excellent linguist, fluent in five languages. He never married.