<br /> Lee Letter: b167

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear Sir,

I had the honor of writing to you on the 18th. instant previous to my leaving Chantilly for this my brothers seat. I have here been favored with your obliging letter of the 8th. with its inclosures, for which I present my best thanks. The letter you send me is from my brother William dated Frankfort December 20th. 1778, and contains the following paragraphs “The British partizans headed by the P. of O. & aided by British guineas had nearly prevailed to destroy the freedom of the Dutch commerce & overthrow the rights of the Republic, but the firmness of the Regency & Pensionary of Amsterdam supported by the body of the Merchants, at the head of whom was placed Monsr. Jean de Neufville, has hitherto saved the Republic from the evils it was threatened with; & the patriotic party seems to gather strength. For, on the last question in the general assembly of the States, two other cities & three members of the Nobility voted with Amsterdam, so that by perseverance it is expected the patriotic measures will finally prevail. All which, will be greatly to our advantage – I cannot learn that G.B. has been able to engage any fresh troops from this quarter for the American war. On the contrary, I am assured from all quarters, that she will not be able to procure near the number of recruits necessary to complete the German corps now in America. – The designs of the B. Ministry cannot be exactly understood, because their plans are changed so frequently. However, I think they are determined on essaying another campaign to recover America, and that most of their operations will be of the predatory kind & ravaging the back country with the Indians – Be as well prepared as possible for any sudden attempt on the Coast of Virginia, & on Charles Town which from resentment Clinton will wish to destroy – ’Tis my duty to mention, and you may be assured of the fact, that Ld. North declared publickly in the house of Commons, that if the Congress had assented to treat on the terms proposed by the British Commissioners, that he would not have confirmed them. After this, what American, in his senses, can listen one moment to any terms whatsoever proposed by the present British Ministry? this should be published thro America, and if it is necessary, you may give me as the author – Mr. Deane has, it seems, written over, that Congress had plans of changing all their appointments in Europe & that he was coming over in a very lucrative employment. I had no doubt but that he and his Coadjutor 6 – would carry on intrigue and trick wherever they were, but my opinion of Congress must be greatly changed from what it is, before I can believe it will be deluded by them. – The English papers tell us of a thousand divisions & distractions in America & even in Congress, not a word of which do I believe, tho’ Govr. Johnston insists that a great deal of his money was received, which was layed out to produce those effects.” –

If the writer of these paragraphs had been in Congress the last ten months he would be less incredulous. For, from what cause has it happened, that in that most important period so little, so very little, has been done in those essential things that concern the happiness and safety of America – Why has it been, that so much pains has been taken to force a breach between Congress & the State of Pennsylvania – Why so much intrigue to create jealousy, distrust, and hatred of the long tried, firm Whigs & supporters of the American Independence? I am settled in my opinion – Yet I hope that Heaven & America will baffle all these secret determinations and open Attempts. As it does not seem probable at present that Count D’Esteing will come here, I should suppose that the provisions purchased for his support on this coast might aid Mr. Wadsworths department – especially as the new harvest is now coming in. I am decided in my opinion, that if the U. States do not get into their public councils such of their Men as possess the greatest abilities and most integrity, in place of number that now they trust; our liberties will be greatly endangered indeed. I believe there are few private clubs of gentlemen in the world that would suffer themselves to be insulted by M. Deane in the manner Congress has been for some months past – What can all this mean? – This is the 4th. letter I have written to you since my arrival in Virginia. I should wish to know if you receive them. I am yours dear Sir

with great respect, esteem, and affection,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Laurens CorrespondenceLong Island Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 78 – 80. Addressed to Laurens “Member of Congress at Philadelphia.” Endorsed “Recd. 28 [June]” and “Ansd. 16 July.”