<br /> Lee Letter: b242

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Davies


Your favor of the 31st. Ultimo is this moment put into my hands, and fortunately our whole militia is to meet tomorrow in consequence of former orders, so that as little time as possible will be lost in sending forward our militia to the Camp in Gloucester. I am no stranger to the fortunate event which has rendered this call necessary, and I hope that the spirit of our countrymen will be roused to exertions adequate to the great purposes that an oportunity is now presented of accomplishing. I know that all the ideas which I am now going to suggest, come not properly with in those of your department, but I cannot help here throwing them out that you may take occasion to mention them to the Governor and Council. The widows mite was once acceptable, and in our system, the giving attention to all hints that may be offered, will probably be productive of consequences very salutary on many occasions –

We have two very important points to manage – the recover of our finances, and the secure navigation of our Bay – It seems to me that the arrival of the fleet of our Ally and the probable consequences thereof will put it in our power to do both – The capture of armed Vessels of different kinds, and Transports from the enemy, may enable us immediately, by securing some of the former, to take and keep the secure navigation of the Bay – And the possession of a proper number of Transports & their being quickly loaded with public Tobacco and immediately dispatched to Holland may lay the foundation of a Loan of Specie sufficient to purchase up the greater part, if not the whole of those paper bills that constitute so great and oppressive a part of our national debt – My design of being so quick in the transportation of Tobo. to Holland is, that the State may avail itself of the present & of the rising Market before individual Traders under a free navigation can fill the foreign markets – I should suppose that there would be no difficulty in obtaining from our Ally a frigate or two to convoy these Tobo. loaded ships off the coast – And above all it is indispensably necessary to exclude totally from this operation all private jobs and private views of every kind – Let the person trusted with this business in Holland be a man of sure probity of character, of discretion, knowledge of Trade, secrecy, and activity, and of undoubted affection to America. Some States by a prudent conduct of this kind, have already freed themselves from the expenses of the war, and their people will bless their Rulers as they find themselves at the end of a long war free, happy, and discharged from oppressive taxes and ruinous systems – Willing to discharge your express immediately I have written in great haste, but I think the principles laid down are good, and that in good hands they may be improved to great national benefits, – I am, with much esteem, Sir

your most obedient humble servant.

Richard Henry Lee


Ford CollectionNew York Public Library

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 248 – 50. Endorsed “Septr. 3d. 1781 From Colo R. H. Lee informing that the Militia of Westmoreland are on their march & proposing a plan to secure the navigation of our Bay & rivers & reducing the quantity of paper money in circulation. Answd Octr 1st. 1781.”