<br /> Lee Letter: b257

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Ralph Wormley Carter

Dear Sir,

If any thing had passed here of sufficient importance to engage your attention from your private affairs I should have communicated it; but as usual, much is talked of & but little done. You know that our ports have been opened to the British Trade, and an Act has passed to suspend the Sherifs power of distraining for the years revenue until the 20th. of next November. A Tobacco law upon the old plan, previous to the revolution, is now engrossing – Very animated but very injudicious attacks have been made on our lower warehouses, which for this time we have parried. We have some imaginations not less heated than the last Assembly produced, as you will agree when you know that all those people whom the Statute Staple drove from this country, are forbidden, by a bill now in Committee of the whole house, to return here under penalty of being hanged; and so are all residents of this country however long since, who since the War have either resided within the teritories of Great Britain, or who residing here formerly have born arms against us in the late war! You may be sure that this mad, murder working bill, will be properly pruned before it passes into law, if any part of it should so pass.

The measure that I most apprehend mischief from, is the renewed attack of Ro. Morris for the 5 pr. Cent impost, on imported goods of all kinds – With all the dangerous train of concealed circumstances, this system presents ease in paying taxes, and plausibility in other respects, that will be very apt to delude and take in those minds that trouble not themselves to investigate consequences, or trace effects in their causes. Besides the danger to liberty that it threatens, I much fear that it will strangle our infant commerce in its birth, make us pay more than our proportion, and sacrifice this country to its northern brethren. There is talk of altering the Revenue law, but the particulars have not transpired – A Militia bill is ordered in, and one has already appeared for establishing Circuit courts, and also for funding all our debts – But whether these conceptions will ever issue into birth I cannot tell – Many of them will probably sleep with their Ancestors, the former projects in this way – If I could envy my friend anything it would be his happiness in being at home – For added to the other causes of complaint for being here, the noxious water & air of this filthy place, have deprived me of health for several days past – My respects to the Lady, & my best wishes for the family of Sabine Hall farewell.

Richard Henry Lee


Lee PapersVirginia Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 281 – 82. Another copy of this letter is in the Copies of Letters to Landon Carter in the Virginia Historical Society.