<br /> Lee Letter: b006

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

Dear Sir,

Is it true that one of the best friends, as well as one of the most able of the community, intends to quit the service of his Country at this most important crisis; when every mental, every corporeal faculty that America possesses, should be strained to support its falling rights, against tyrannic power in opposition to the most palpable privileges of human nature, the legal rights of America, and the constitutional freedom of British Subjects?

I yet hope my friend, that you have only thought, not determined on declining to take a poll at the ensuing election. When the cause of our dissolution is known, will Ministerial cunning fail to suggest, that the people of Virginia disavow their Burgesses claim to freedom, if a considerable change is made by them, in their choice of new Representatives? Let us remove from despotism every shew of argument, and let us endeavor to convince the world that we are as firm and unanimous in the cause of Liberty, as so noble and exalted a principle demands. – The enclosed pamphlet is said to be written by the first Minister of Britain – If no better reasons can be assigned to support the measure he contends for, a strong proof is to be drawn from thence of its intrinsic vileness. It shews indeed, that systems calculated to destroy Human Liberty, can only be maintained by vain sophistry, and an idle affectation of wit, without one single ray of wisdom; and that such doctrines are as far remote from true policy, as they are closely connected with the futile genius of a Dealer in Expedients, who never is able, and seldom willing, to draw the necessary supplies of Government from such sources only, us are consistent with the end of all Governments, the safety, ease, and happiness of the people.

I would recommend the pamphlet to your attention, not for its merit, but that it may receive a proper answer. And such an one, it easily admits of as would make its Author blush, if it be possible for a Minister to blush. But though an answer might fail to do this, it will certainly have weight with the cool and sensible part of Mankind; and thereby perhaps, prevent the future extention of arbitrary unconstitutional power. I am, with the most perfect esteem, dear Sir, your ever affectionate friend.


Lee PapersVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume I, 1762 – 1778, pp. 7 – 9. Printed also, as 1766, in Edmund J. Lee, Lee of Virginia, 191.