<br /> Lee Letter: b050

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams


From a person quite unknown to you, some apology may be necessary for this letter. The name of my brother, Dr. Arthur Lee, of London, may perhaps, furnish me with this apology. To be firmly attached to the cause of liberty on virtuous principles, is a powerful cause of union, and renders proper, the most easy communication of sentiment, however artfully disunion may be promoted and encouraged by tyrants, and their abettors. If this be true in general, how more certainly is it so, in that particular state of affairs, in which every scheme that cunning can form, or power execute, is practised to reduce to slavery, so considerable a portion of the human species, as North America does, and may contain. Every day’s experience proves this, to an attentive observer. Among other instances in proof, if I mistake not, the manner of resenting the loss of the Gaspie, is one. At this distance, and through the uncertain medium of newspapers, we may never, perhaps, have received a just account of this affair. I should be extremely glad, sir, when your leisure permits, to have as true a state of the matter, as the public with you, has been furnished with. At all events, this military parade appears extraordinary, unless the intention be, to violate all law and legal forms, in order to establish the ministerial favourite, but fatal precedent, of removing Americans beyond the water, to be tried for supposed offences committed here. This is so unreasonable, and so unconstitutional a stretch of power, that I hope it will never be permitted to take place, while a spark of virtue, or one manly sentiment remains in America. The primary end of government seems to be, the security of life and property; but this ministerial law, would, if acquiesced in, totally defeat every idea of social security and happiness. You may easily, sir, perceive, that I understand myself, writing to a firm and worthy friend of the just rights and liberty of America, by the freedom with which this letter is penned. Captain Snow, of your town, who comes frequently here, and who takes care of this, will bring me any letter you may be pleased to favour me with.

I am, sir, with singular esteem, yours, &c.

R. H. Lee

To Samuel Adams, Esq., Boston.


Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 82 – 83. Original transcription taken from R. H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and his Correspondence, 1:86.