<br /> Lee Letter: b207

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Shippen, Jr.

My dear Sir.

I arrived here six days ago, to give my attendance as a member of this resent General Assembly, and here I received your favor of Apl. 16th. on the 5th. Instant, for which be pleased to accept my thanks. You ask, must the wicked enemies of our Country still prosper and go unpunished? I answer they probably will, untill virtue learns to be as industrious as vice, and men in general come to prize the former more than the latter. The stimulated industry that marks your persecutor strongly demonstrates, that some other quality than mere virtue influences his conduct. The bitterness of revenge, working on disappointed ambition and avarice, is plainly perceptible at this distance of time. I cannot recollect the particular Complainants against Dr. Morgan out of Congress; but I remember perfectly well, that in Congress Mr. Chace did most warmly oppose Dr. Morgan’s longer continuance in the Directorship, saying repeatedly, that not a Soldier would be obtained from Maryland, if the director was not changed. I remember Mr. Chace, his mentioning particular instances of his misconduct which appeared strong at the time. I make no doubt but that you may get the information you want from Mr. Chace, and be availed also by his testimony. If there were any written complaints they no doubt may be found upon the files of Congress. Having had the pleasure of a great share of your confidence and correspondence, and having been a member of Congress at the time, it seems more than probable that if you had excited clamors against the Director, with a view to succeed him, that I should have heard or known something about it, and yet I can declare before God and Man, that I neither knew or heard of any such thing. I believe there is scarcely a gentleman who was then a member of Congress, who does not well remember, how great and general the dissatisfaction was at that time, against the Director General; insomuch that I solemnly affirm, it appeared to me, as I know it did to many others, that the change in the Directorship, was indispensable to the collecting of another army; – the former having been chiefly disban[d]ed in the fall of 1776. It appears to me a new mode of Judicial proceeding for the prosecutor to be the evidence taker, – altho’ the defendent be present. Because if they differ concerning the propriety of any insertion, who is to determine? or is either of the parties to determine for himself against the other? In such a case an individual, whether he was able or otherwise, must be considered as an atom compared with N. America, the safety of which depended absolutely on an army, and one speedily obtained. I heartily wish you a successful discharge from persecution, as I do most firmly believe that your services have greatly availed the public. I am once more engaged in the busy scene of politics. Col. Frank too is elected both for our Senate and House of Delegates; he is not yet here, but will be in a few days. My best love attends Mrs. Shippen and my cousins. Whatever letters you favor me with after 15th. June next, must not be directed to this place, but as usual to Chantilly. I am yours, my Dear Sir,

most sincerely and affectionately,

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 178 – 80. Shippen’s letter to Lee of 16 April 1780 was printed in the May 1860 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger, p. 344.