<br /> Lee Letter: b180

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear Sir,

I have received so many demonstrations of the extreme wickedness of a certain set that I can be surprised at nothing they do. Otherwise I should certainly have been astonished at the rascality of that plot to create enmity between Mr. Izard and yourself – It is obvious that the infamous stratagem was planned in Philadelphia, that the travesty of Mr. Izards letter was written there, sent to the partnership at Passi, where Bancroft introduced it under a design of having it understood to come from the respectable authority of Samuel Adams. The Villains reasoned thus – Mr. Izard is a passionate man, and under the influence of passion he may write such a letter as will probably create effectual discord between two, whose united friendship will entirely obstruct the diabolical views we have in contemplation – It is observable that these Miscreants, in order to make their deviltry succeed the better, do almost constantly graft it upon the stock of truth, and in this moral (or rather immoral) in the natural process, the graft changes entirely the nature of the fruit that would have been produced by the Stock. It was true that Congress had the letters of Mr. Izard and that they directed Deane should have a copy, but every other idea, and every impertinent consequence suggested in the letter S.A. flowed from the party themselves – Your judgement is extremely wise I think Sir, not to shew them you are disturbed at present. The corrupt hotbed of vice at Passi, has produced a tall tree of evil, the branches of which spread over great part of europe and america, and unless it is speedily cut down and thrown away, I easily foresee extensive mischief to these States, and to the cause of human nature – I thank you Sir for your favor of the 3d instant, and its inclosures. M: Izards letter is now returned – My brothers Secretary, Mr. Ford is just arrived here from France, he brought the inclosed for the Delegates of South Carolina, to ether with many packets for Congress, thro the Chairman of the Committee for foreign affairs – I have engaged an Express upon the best terms I could to carry them to Philadelphia. I fancy you will find them contain further proofs of the infamy of Deanes Libel 5th december, and of some other similar productions of that Adventurer – Mr. Ford would have come himself to Congress with these dispatches, but when he heated of the charges adduced against him he determined to repair immediately to Williamsburg, from whence they originated, and demand a hearing before the Governor & Council – He says that he can demonstrate the falsehood and injustice of the charges, and he supposes they have arisen from some papers he sent over here for publication shewing the misconduct of Deane & his party, which immediately roused that nest of hornets – Let this be as it may, he is gone to Williamsburg to solicit a hearing – He spoke with the frigate Le Sensible off the Western Islands – She brings a new Minister from France, Le Chevalier de la Luzerne, who is a gentleman, of much too high and honorable extraction and sentiment, to enter into the dregs of party, thereby insuring the Alliance and disgracing his Master. With him comes our friend John Adams, with good news he says – I hope and believe it is the union of Spain with our Alliance.

I beg of you Sir, for the honor of Congress and America, that you prevent all display of compliment, and ill placed praise on Monsr. G – d when he goes – I can venture to assure you that it will do no honor to the praisers, and therefore I wish if such a thing is attempted, as I have reason to think it will, that it may be opposed, and the yeas & nays taken – This is a state act now, of covering misconduct, from resentment and from punishment. I wish Mr. G – d to stand upon his own merits and not upon that delusive kind of security which is derived from overstrained compliments which the giver realy means nothing by whilst it imposes on the reader – It is not a secret now, that Monsr. G – d has powerfully supported the Denean faction, that his support has given life, vigor, and effect to their plans from whence such extensive injury has arisen to America – Does any man doubt, that the single publication of that Libel on the 5th. of december has done more injury to the American cause than a reenforcement of 20,000 men to the enemies general could have produced – If there is such a Man he must be very illy informed indeed – Now that Congress are possessed of all the papers, when Mr. Adams comes who knows so much of these affairs, ought they not to go into the fullest enquiry concerning Mr. Deane, and call upon Mr. Adams to declare all he knows, that such a determination may be come to and published as will give ease and information to the American mind, which at present remains distressed and greatly agitated with a belief of great misconduct, without knowing the evil doers, or seeing any steps taken to find them out and punish them. Most certainly, if Mr. Deane escapes without proper censure no man who has any character to loose, can or will serve Congress abroad. This Man acknowledges that he was possessed of his recal a month before he left Paris – And in that time, altho there were other Commissioners properly empowered to act, without any authority, for his powers ceased on another being appointed to his place he takes from the public Treasure £1700 sterling, and yet his personal expenses were left to be paid after he came away – Was this not downright robbery – Compare this with his written narrative where he boasts of the mere pittance he brought away with him – The Brig that is now coming in the New Ministers suite is the one that he and Williams bought in partnership for ten times less than her value at a time that they contrived to discourage purchasers by creating a doubt in mens minds about who was properly authorised to sell the American prizes. Yet this man is not in Trade! This Brig is the fine Vessel that Capt. Nicholson complained to the Marine Committee was one of his prizes taken by Williams for himself and Mr. Deane for private use, and let the Seamen have no part of their shares. Mr. Henry & many other gentlemen were present in a full Committee just before I came away, when Capt. Nicholson made this complaint. See also an account of this Prize mentioned in Dr. Lees vindication – I am now waiting to see whether Congress will publish this Vindication & the vouchers, such as may be safely communicated without injuring us with foreign Courts – If they will not, I most certainly will, and assign for reason that they deny this necessary information to the public – I do not think that any public injury can be derived from this, if it does lessen the present Congress in the eyes of the people, equal to the magnitude of that injury which will inevitably flow from these mens succeeding in their extensively wicked system – If Congress will not discharge their duty by censuring the bad and supporting the good servants of the public, we must pursue the old plan – Provoco ad populum – I have now, both of Dr. Lees vindications, that in answer to the Manuscript sent to Congress by Deane in Octr. & his answer to the Libel 5th. december – & I have most of the Vouchers – those that I want I shall apply for hereafter – I hope Congress will render this unnecessary by directing the publication themselves – Surely there is some moment when “Clearly out of order,” cannot avail himself of the argument from order to prevent your motion from being considered – Let us have the yeas & nays that the world may judge. The Constituent must have some clue to guide his future choice, and know in whom to repose confidence – By your favor I have the resolve in Braxtons case with the Portugueze, and I must rely upon the same goodness to send me copy of his instructions to the Capt. of the Privateer. Mr. Ford says that he was prisoner with Mr. Blake in Jersey, and he desires (if that gentleman should be at Congress) that you will be pleased to inform him that Mr. Ford will thank him for a Certificate stating his behavior during his captivity so far as Mr. Blake observed it or knows it. This may be inclosed to me. My brother Frank thanks you, with much sensibility, for your kind remembrance of him. When Congress go into the enquiry concerning Deane, Mr. Diggs of Maryland ought to be called upon, as knowing a good deal of the gambling in the funds, by Bancroft, Wharton &c &c – If Congress are not satisfied after what they have, and will see in the packets now sent, of the extreme misconduct of those who they have hitherto protected, and if they do not act accordingly, the conclusions which the world will come to are too obvious to be doubted about. Our accounts now from the West Indies are very good, and seem well authenticated – The Count D’Esteing is undoubtedly superior at present and is going pretty rapidly on with conquest.

I continue very much indisposed – My cold abates not altho I have been 4 times blooded and taken much medicine

I do most sincerely wish you health and happiness and tho I want much to see you, yet I shall be concerned to hear that you leave Congress before they et into a better way than they are at present – Our friend Mr. John Adams is sensible & honest – He is at the same time rather modest than assuming – I fear he will not come so forward in his display of truth as the wicked affrontery of the times demands – If he is publickly called upon, and desired to say all he knows of our foreign affairs and foreign servants, I have reason to think that he will “such a tale unfold” “as will harrow up” & – Such information he will give as to prevent either “clearly out of order” or his profligate Aid “Black Coat” from proceeding longer in the way they have done. I was once of opinion that the fame of Dr. Franklin would render it unsafe at present to remove him – My opinion .is totally changed at present – I foresee abuse without end and injury extreme from his continuance – The vices that used to croud around his heart in great abundance are no longer restrained by checks from the cautions of his head – It is the curse of man, that the vicious part of his nature outlives his reason. farewell my dear friend and be assured that

I am yours with great sincerity and affection.

Richard Henry lee


Laurens Correspondence, No. 11Long Island Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 117 – 23.