<br /> Lee Letter: b223

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams

My Dear Friend

Your favor of the 15th post, was duly delivered to me, by my brother, who with my eldest son arrived safely here a few days ago. The many just and excellent observations, with which your letter abounds, I shall reply to hereafter; at present, my design is to be confined, chiefly, to the consideration of the cession, made to the United States, by this Commonwealth, at our last session of assembly, of all the country North-West of the river Ohio, which is contained within the charter limits of this country. The country thus yielded, is greater in extent, than that which remains to us, between the Ocean, and the Ohio, and in point of climate and soil, it is far preferable – the terms of cession, so far as I can judge are perfectly reasonable. Notwithstanding this, there are powerful reasons, which I clearly see, will obstruct, if not defeat the acceptation of this cession by Congress. It will be a means of perfecting our Union, by closing the Confederation – and thus our Independency will be secured in a great measure. It will bar the hopes, of some powerful confederated Land jobbers, who have long had in contemplation immense possessions in this ceded country, under pretence of Indian purchases, and other plausible, but not solid titles. It is plain therefore, that personal interest, and political views – Toryism, British interest, and Land-jobbing views, combine members without and within doors, to reject this proffered cession. – The modes and methods, which these artists pursue, are well understood, by the judicious, attentive friends to the Independence of these States – They pretend great friendship and concern for the Indepency, the Union, and Confederation of America, but by circuitous means, attack and destroy those things, that are indispensible to those ends. Hitherto the avarice and ambition of Virginia, has prevented Confederation – Now when Virginia, has yielded half, and more than half her Charter Claim, the argument will be applied to the terms as improper, and for certain purposes perhaps it may be said, that the ceded is not enough – in short anything that can operate the delay and defeat of a measure, calculated to sever us completely from Great Britain, and to preclude the avaricious views of certain Land mongers, will be industriously pressed. But my dear friend, cannot virtue for once, be as active as vice – Can we not by effectual industry, contrive, to have a plan adopted, by which our great bond of Union may be secured – Let me observe here, that our assembly is luckily called again to meet, before our annual dissolution, and if this great business can be considered and determined on by Congress, in season for us, so that we may know the result before the next meeting of assembly passes away, I think that it will greatly conduce to the general good and happiness of the United States – after that, which the uniform friends of America have already done, if they can be happy enough to complete this great bond of union, strength, confidence, and credit, the Confederation, they may reasonably be contented, with the fair prospect, that will then open upon them for future happiness and security. Our assembly is called by the Governor, to meet on the first of next month, and the Session will not be long. Mr. – – who drew the bill you mention is at present on a journey up the country, but you may be assured, that my exertions will be applied to get the bill immediately and honorably discharged. I am dear Sir

most sincerely and affectionately yours,

Honorable Samuel Adams, Esq. Member of Congress at Philadelphia.


Samuel Adams PapersMassachusetts Historical Society

Printed in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, second series, 1:186. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 213 – 15.