<br /> Lee Letter: b172

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear Sir,

Four days ago I was honored with your favors of the 16th. & 20th. of July with their inclosures, for which I pray you to accept my sincerest thanks. I am grieved to hear of your illness, not less on the public than on your own account, being perfectly satisfied that your bodily feelings are not more injured on such occasions than are the public councils by your absence. I rejoice exceedingly at our successes both in the north and in the south – If we continue to do thus, it will not be in the power of the execrable junto to prevent us from having a safe and honorable peace next winter. In this idea I shall ever include the fisheries and the navigation of Mississippi – These Sir are the strong legs on which N. America can alone walk securely in Independence. For some time before, and since the receipt of your obliging favors, I have been much indisposed with an epidemic cold which prevents me from writing to you by this post fully on the subject of my much injured brother A. Lee. These no doubt have been great as they are unmerited, but this is not all, the public cause has, I greatly fear, suffered a deep wound, the healing of which will not, in my opinion, speedily take place, without a remedy, which the vice and power of a certain faction will prevent the application of – I mean a proper censure of Mr. Deane, and a thorough extirpation of those cancerous ramifications with which he has overspread our affairs in every part. I think it may be anticipated with certainty, that the publication of Dr. Lees defence with the vouchers will be denied. It will carry to the world so convincing a proof of the wickedness of a certain set, that I am persuaded force alone can extort it from them – As a Citizen of Phila. I would not hesitate to be one that should apply this procurer of justice to an abused community. It appears to me that Mr. Austins letter, with Mr. Livingstons certificate & the entry in Grands account of 1700 Livres (I think) paid by order to Wharton of London will lead to the complete development of the gambling practise, and Beaumerchais charge of £6323. Sterling to the U.S. compared with Carmichaels evidence seems to fix a truth that I never doubted about, which is, that this transaction was a knavish misapplication of public money. These instances, with the affair of the cutters, and sharing in the contracts for army cloathing are alone, independent of numerous other affairs, to fix indubitably a certain character; and by so doing, the propriety of censure, and consequent restoration of American honor will follow. I have been long of opinion that the Scene which opened upon the public on the 5th. of december was plotted some months before, and the success of it relied upon. These things appear in full conviction by the letters received in France early in december written by Holker, R. Morris, and Dean, proclaiming their triumph, the disgrace of their opponents, and the honorable and lucrative return of the latter to Europe. Is it possible that the accounts of Jonathan Williams can pass, and is he to be put into a Consulship, and the public business? I think with infinite contempt, and a good degree of detestation of my Compatriot M.S. – If he produces papers that can in any manner affect my character, I affirm they are forgeries, and thus I have done with him. A fine supply of military stores for the use of this State has safely arrived, after having been long expected. They have been procured by the efforts of my two brothers, and will put us into a good posture of defence. My brother F.L.L. presents his respectful compliments to you, and hopes to have the pleasure of seeing you at his house in your way to Carolina – He lives near to me – It is of much consequence to my brother Arthur that he should receive all the papers that Congress have, shewing the interference of Mr. G – d & H – r in favor of Deane and to his, Lees, injury – Some of these are Pacas & blackcoats information, Burks do. the letters to Congress on the subject of sending Ministers & some others which leave no doubt about it – If Sir you see no impropriety in it, ’twill greatly oblige Dr. Lee to be furnished with these by the first opportunity. I am, with very particular esteem and friendship, dear Sir

your most obliged and obedient Servant.

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. 98 – 99.