<br /> Lee Letter: b249

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas McKean

Dear Sir,

My eldest son will have the honor of delivering you this letter. Having business at Philadelphia I have prevailed on him to remit, if he can receive it, the money that has been due from the United States to my brother William Lee for more than two years. It appears to be a partiality not reconcilable to common ideas of justice, that one man shall be fully paid and on demand too, when another for the same service and professedly as well performed, is neglected, and payment delayed. I am realy concerned to trouble you or any other friend upon a subject of this kind, because I may expect that your efforts in support of the plainest justice will not prevail against that spirit of faction which in the case of both my brothers has so largely returned evil for good. I do not suppose that Mr. Wm. Lee regrets having served his country and the cause of liberty at the expense of loosing situations honorable and profitable, but he must feel not well when he reflects upon the cruel returns that he has met with. He quickly obeyed the call of Congress to go into their service, and thus he left large debts in London which for the present are not recoverable, and in Virginia a very considerable estate ravaged by the armies of friends & foes, so that little or no remittance can be made for the support of himself & family shaken off by Congress in a foreign land, and not finding it eligible to commit themselves to the sea during war. The vote of Congress for paying him will I fear be rendered useless by the word convenient which is unfortunately interjected, unless your friendship will suggest for my son some mode of proceeding by which his Uncle may obtain speedy justice –

Do you not think my good Sir that our successes at York will go far towards procuring us an independent peace in the spring? The immense expense of G. Britain and unsuccessful too in every quarter, must clip the wings of ambition and compel avarice to be content –

I shall be ever happy to hear from you and particularly so to know that you are in health & spirits. I am dear Sir with great esteem & regard

your most obedient & very humble Servant.

Richard Henry Lee


McKean CollectionHistorical Society of Pennsylvania

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 265 – 66. Addressed to “His Excellency Thomas M’Kean esquire at Philadelphia Favored by Mr. Thos. Lee.”