<br /> Lee Letter: b221

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams

My dear Sir,

I was yesterday made happy by your favor of the 30th. current – I say made happy because every recognition of our friendship is extremely agreeable to me. I always imputed your silence to causes very different from an abatement of esteem, because I believe that friendship founded on virtue is not easily changed by time or place – I wish not to form many new connections with members of Congress, because I know few of them well enough to induce me to it. People who view us at a distance may suppose from mistakes and mistated causes that this State has much fallen from its original attachment to the American system, but, if you will except the general injury done to morality by the superabundance of money, I think there is no great cause for censure. The war being distant & money plenty had produced a vicious kind of apathy which the enemies invasion seems to have roused us from, as the spirit of resistance is very active – The militia collect in numbers, and with great alacrity – The men are good and in high spirits – but alass we want a sufficiency of Arms, of ammunition, tents blankets & other covering for a winters Campaign – The enemy have however retired from our advancing troops, and covered themselves with the most intricate defiles about Portsmouth, where water and morasses render a few secure against numbers unaided by marine force. The enemies water strength is one 44 a frigate & a Sloop of war – Our present land force aided by one ship of the line with our Continental frigates in the Delaware could easily secure the enemies whole powers here – What pity is it that this stroke cannot be silently and rapidly struck! Can it not be – Cannot our Ally furnish the Line of battle ship & we, (the Congress meaning) the frigates. Cannot this be done by silent & judicious concert? It deserves much consideration, because it is I think practicable, and because it would very assuredly ruin the enemies views upon the Southern States – We have intercepted letters from Leslie to Cornwallis which inform us that the former was taking post at Portsmouth where he waited for orders from the latter – Since Colo. Campbells defeat of Ferguson upon Kings mountain, we have reason to think that Cornwallis finds his affairs in a very embarassed situation, which would be rendered much worse than that if what I have already suggested could take place – We have this day resolved to raise our quota of Continental troops for the war, and I assure you the difficulty of accomplishing it will be great, but the determination is to overcome every difficulty – To this end a further emission of money is indispensable, but it will I trust be as guarded as possible – I am happy that Dr. Lee continues to meet your esteem, and I wish for the honor of Congress and the encouragement of virtue that he had not been treated as he has – I pray you Sir to remember me affectionately to Mrs. Adams and if you correspond with Gen Whipple tell him that I hope to continue among the number of his friends – I am under many obligations to Mr. Lovell, and wish to be remembered to him – Farewell my dear friend.


Samuel Adams PapersNew York Public Library

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 210 – 12.