<br /> Lee Letter: b139

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: British Commissioners

To their Excellencies the right Hon: the Earl of Carlisle William Eden Esq: George Johnstone, Esq: Commissioners from his Britannic Majesty. Philadelphia. –

I have received the letter from your Excellencies, of the 9th instant, with the enclosures, and laid them before Congress Nothing but an earnest desire to spare the farther effusion of human blood could have induced them to read a paper, containing expressions so disrespectful to his Most Christian Majesty the good and great ally of these States, or to consider propositions so derogatory to the honour of an Independent Nation.

The acts of the British Parliament, the commission from your Sovereign, and your letter, suppose the people of these States to be Subjects of the Crown of Great-Britain, and are founded on the idea of dependence, which is utterly inadmissable.

I am further directed to inform your Excellencies, that Congress are inclined to peace notwithstanding the unjust claims from which this war originated, and the savage manner in which it has been conducted. They will therefore be ready to enter upon the consideration of a treaty of peace and commerce, not inconsistent with treaties already subsisting when the King of Great-Britain shall demonstrate a sincere disposition for that purpose. The only solid proof of this disposition will be, an explicit acknowledgment of the independence of these States, or the withdrawing his fleets and armies. I have the honour to be, Your Excellencies most obedient humble servant.

Signed by order of the unanimous voice of Congress


YORK TOWN, June 17 1778

Resolved unanimously that Congress approve the conduct of General
Washington in refusing a passport to Doctor Ferguson.

Published by order of Congress



Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 414 – 15. An almost identical draft in the writing of Gouverneur Morris is printed in the Journals of Congress, 17 June 1778, 11:615.