<br /> Lee Letter: b071

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

D.B.

All America has received with astonishment and concern the Speech to Parliament. The wicked violence of Ministry is so clearly expressed, as to leave no doubt of their fatal determination to ruin both Countries, unless a powerful and timely check is interposed by the Body of the people. A very small corrupted Junto in New York excepted, all N. America is now most firmly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties ad infinitum against every power on Earth that may attempt to take them away. The most effectual measures are everywhere taking to secure a sacred observance of the Association – Manufactures go rapidly on, and the means of repelling force by force are universally adopting. The inclosed Address to the Virginia Delegates published a few days since in the Gazette will shew you the spirit of the Frontier Men – This one County of Fincastle can furnish 1000 Rifle Men that for their number make most formidable light Infantry in the World. The six frontier Counties can produce 6000 of these Men who from their amazing hardihood, their method of living so long in the woods without carrying provisions with them, the exceeding quickness with which they can march to distant parts, and above all, the dexterity to which they have arrived in the use of the Rifle Gun. Their is not one of these Men who wish a distance less than 200 yards or a larger object than an Orange – Every shot is fatal. The Virginia Colony Congress meets the 20th. of next month for the appointment of Delegates to the Continental Congress in May next, and for other purposes of public security. The Ministry who are both foolish and wicked, think by depriving us of Assemblies, to take away the advantage that results from united and collected counsels. But they are grievously mistaken. In despight of all their machinations, public Councils will be held and public measures adopted for general security. Still we hope that the proceedings of the last Continental Congress when communicated to the people of England will rouse a spirit that proving fatal to an abandoned Ministry may save the whole Empire from impending destruction. The honorable Colo. Lee of Stratford was buried this day, he died the 21st. ultimo after a months painful illness. He is a public loss, and if the Ministry go on filling up these vacancies in the Council with raw boys and hotheaded senseless people, that affairs of Virginia must be in perpetual confusion, altho the present dispute should be accommodated. It is absolutely necessary that some grave sensible Men should now be placed there in order to temper the present body.

The pamphlet entitled an Appeal &c. is, I think, the best I have read on the subject amidst such a variety of finely reasoned ones.

Farewell. – –

R. H. Lee

P.S. By authentic accounts just come to hand, all the Ministerial efforts with New York and the Jersey Governments have failed, both Assemblies have highly approved the proceedings of the Continental Congress, thank their Delegates – and appointed them to represent their respective Colonies in the next May Congress.

From N. York we have lately sent back a Ship from Glasgow with goods that arrived after 1st. of Feby. scarcely allowing the Vessel time to get fresh provisions. It is now therefore certain that without a redress of Grievances, G. Britain must prepare to do entirely without the N. American trade, nor will the British Isles in the W. Indies get their usual necessary supplies from the Continent. Georgia has acceded to the Continental Association, and we understand Canada will have Delegates in the next Congress. You will oblige me greatly by giving my boys advice and pressing to diligent application as often as you have leisure to do so. You never say whether or when you take the Gown, and where you propose to practice.

Farewell.

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 130 – 31. Addressed to Lee at The Temple, London. William Lee endorsed the document: “I will meet you at 7 o’clock tomorrow eveng. at the George & Vulture in Cornhill.”