<br /> Lee Letter: b063

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams

Sir,

I did myself the pleasure of writing to you from this place before my departure for our Assembly in May last and again from Williamsburg immediately after our dissolution, inclosing the order for fast, which produced that event, and the subsequent conduct of the Members after this political death had been inflicted on them. The day before we were dissolved, I had prepared a sett of resolves, the last two of which were thus expressed. Resolved that the blocking up, or attempting to block up the Harbour of Boston, until the people there shall submit to the payment of taxes imposed on them without the consent of their Representatives, is a most violent and dangerous attempt to destroy the constitutional liberty of and rights of all North America. Resolved that [     ] be appointed Deputies from this House to meet at [     ] such Deputies from the other Colonies as they shall appoint, there to consider and determine on ways the most effectual to stop the exports from North America, and for the adoption of such other methods as shall be most decisive for securing the constitutional rights of America against the systematic plan formed for their destruction. I have not a remaining doubt but that these resolves would by a very great majority, have been agreed to, had they been proposed. However I was prevented from offering them by many worthy Members who wished to have the public business first finished, and who were induced to believe, from many conversations they had heared, that there was no danger of a dissolution before that had happened. It seems that government was very much alarmed at that spirit which the order for Fast denoted, and fearing its consequences interposed a dissolution. The subsequent conduct of the Members was surely much too feeble an opposition to the dangerous and alarming state to which despotism had rapidly advanced. So thinking, I did propose to the dissolved Members the plan of a Congress, but a distinction was sect up between their then state, and when they were a house of Burgesses. Most of the Members, with myself among the rest, had quitted Williamsburg before your message from Boston arrived. Twenty five of them were however assembled to consider of that message, and they determined to invite a meeting of the whole body on the 1st. of August next, to consider of stopping the exports and imports. Since that, an Indian invasion of our Frontiers has compelled the calling a new Assembly, for which purpose writs are now issued returnable the 11th. of August, at which I time, it is thought, the house will meet; when, I think there is no manner of doubt but they will directly adopt the most effectual means in their power for obtaining redress of American grievances. In the mean time, the sense of the Counties is taking, and two have already declared their desires to stop their exports and imports. It seems very clear to me that this will be the general agreement. ’Tis apprehended here, that if the grain were allowed to be exported to the south of Europe, that bad men would, tempted by the high price in the W. Indies, supply them fully under pretences of distress of weather, and many other false and delusive pleas. Do you not think Sir, that the first most essential step for our Assembly to take, will be an invitation to a general congress as speedily as the nature of the thing will admit, in order that our plan may be unanimous, and therefore effectual? I shall be in Williamsburg on the first of August, and continue there until the meeting of the Assembly on the 11th., and it will be exceedingly agreeable to me to know your sentiments fully on this most important subject. And I am sure it will be of great consequence to the common cause that your corresponding Committee write fully, their opinions to ours, at the same time. It will be well, so to time the matter, as that your letters may be in Wiliamsburg before the 1st. of August, at which time and place a meeting of the late Representatives, I expect will take place, notwithstanding the return of our election writs to the 11th. Please direct your letter for me to the care of Robert Carter Nicholas Esqr. in Williamsburg. I hope the good people of Boston will not be dispirited under their present heavy oppressions, for they will most certainly be supported by the other Colonies, their cause being rightly and universally considered as the common cause of British America. So glorious a one it is, and so deeply interesting to the present and future generations, that all America will owe their political salvation, in great measure, to the present virtue of Massachusetts Bay. I am, with singular esteem and regard,

Sir your most obedient and most humble Servant

R. H. Lee

P.S. My best respects, if you please, to all the friends of liberty, particularly to Mr. Hancock, Mr. Cushing & Mr. Otis.

Notes:

Samuel Adams PapersLenox Library

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 111 – 13. Printed also in R. H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and his Correspondence, 1:97.