<br /> Lee Letter: b002

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas Cummings

Dear Sir,

I wrote to you a few days ago, that the council of this colony, had unanimously addressed his majesty to remove from their board Mr. – – , the last appointed counsellor, on account of his incapacity. If this address succeed, I entreat the favour of you, to exert your friendship that I might be appointed in Mr. – – ’s place. If an ardent desire to serve my country, added to considerable time and application, already employed in the service of the public, are to be considered in this appointment, you may safely declare yourself my friend. I shall say nothing of the abilities of the gentleman, who, 1 understand, has a probability of filling the next vacancy, from the chance he stood last; because, as you know him, this would be unnecessary; and because I think it not proper, to establish my success, by making invidious observations on another. But in his favour, it is urged, that his contiguity to the seat of government, renders his appointment proper, as on government contingencies, his attendance in council could be presently obtained. If this argument, independent of any auxiliary one, was to be admitted, might not a cobbler in the city dispute the point with him? Less weight will be found in this reason, when you consider that those who compose our council, meet four times a year of course, to constitute the general and oyer courts; when they sit, on the whole, more than two months, besides the frequent meetings of the general assembly. At these times it is, that council business is chiefly discussed. If, in the intermediate time, any contingency render a council necessary, there are always six or seven of the board, whose situation admits of a very speedy meeting. But in a variety of instances, it may happen, that a dispersion of the councillors through the several parts of the colony, will be attended with advantageous consequences, by their having a more minute and particular acquaintance with the circumstances of the country.

Against my success, I hear it is urged that I have a brother already in the council. This is true; but can any solid reason be assigned, why this friendly connexion should banish virtue and morality from the breasts of brothers? or does it follow, of course, that those thus allied, should, to promote any views they may be supposed to have, unite to injure their country, and so found their brotherly union on the destruction of honour, duty, and public good? For my part, I think the objection does not hold in theory; and, exclusive of the many historic proofs that might be adduced to confute it, we have a familiar experience here, of two brothers having long sat together in the council, to the honour of his majesty, and to the interests of the colony.

To whom, my dear sir, can you apply with so much effect, as to your noble friend Lord Halifax, since a word from him would accomplish the object; and then the honour of the appointment would be enhanced, by its being the direction of a person so universally admired for the honesty of his heart and the ability of his head. I know you will excuse the length of this letter. With great sincerity, I assure you of the unabated esteem of

your affectionate friend.

R. H. Lee

To Thomas Cummings, Esq. in London.


Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 2 – 4. Original transcription taken from R. H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and his Correspondence, 1:14.