<br /> Lee Letter: b280

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

Dear Sir,

We are placed now, I think, pretty nearly in the same political relation under which our former correspondence was conducted; if it shall prove as agreeable to you to revive it, as you were then pleased to say it was to continue it, I shall be happy in contributing my part. The intelligence from hence cannot now be so interesting as formerly, because important events can be expected to occur but seldom in these times. It is, however, not unpleasant to know how things are going, and likely to go, in the world; that part of it at least in which we are in any manner interested. The courts of Spain and London do not seem to be upon such cordial principles with the United States as we might wish, the former seeming to be intent upon possessing, with a strong hand, the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi, and the latter has actually encroached already upon our peace boundary on the river St. Croix, and they detain the western posts; assigning, for reason, that we have violated the peace by not repealing the laws that impede the recovery of British debts; the court of London seems also willing to injure its own possessions in the West Indies, rather than not wound our commerce with British Isles. Much of this mischief arises from the want of a proper understanding of each other, and from the active industry and acrimonious misinformation that the exiled tories and refugees are constantly inculcating and asserting, without much danger of contradiction in having the truth fairly displayed. A well informed gentleman, in our ministry abroad, therefore, lately wrote us, that we could much better have dealt with these people among ourselves, than we can counteract the evils now resulting from their conduct abroad. This temper of the two courts will, however, produce the necessity of sending to each a well informed proper minister to negotiate commencing difficulties, and thereby prevent the evils of renewed war. It seems yet to be a matter of much doubt, whether the imperial determination to open up the long closed navigation of the Scheldt, and restoring Antwerp to its former splendour as a commercial city, will not light up a general war upon the continent of Europe. I hope that our dispute with Great Britain may be previously settled. Our commissioners have concluded a peace with the six nations, and are now on their way to Cayahoga, on Lake Erie, to meet the western nations and to make a treaty with them also. I present you the compliments of the approaching season and assure you that I am with great regard and esteem, Dear Sir,

Your Most obedient and very humble Servant,

Richard Henry Lee



Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:247. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 314 – 16. A variant copy addressed to “Hon. E. Pendleton Virginia” is printed in R. H. Lee, Memoir of Richard Henry Lee, 2:53.