On October 12, 1870, former General Robert Edward Lee, who was at the time the President of Washington College, an institution previously called Augusta Academy, Liberty Hall Academy and Washington Academy, passed away in Lexington, Virginia after years of battling health issues. Classes were canceled at Washington College, a six month mourning period was mandated on campus, and hundreds attended Robert Edward Lee’s funeral at the chapel that Lee ordered to be built while he was the Washington College President. In 1870, in honor of the former President, the Board of Trustees decided to rename the education institution Washington and University.
Robert Edward Lee, along with various immediate family members such as his wife, his sons and his daughters, were buried within the present day Lee Chapel and Museum, within the Washington and Lee College campus. A “Sleeping General” statue of Robert Edward Lee was created in Richmond and shipped to Lexington, via boat, after the general’s death.