<br /> Lee Letter: b319

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Short

Dear Sir,

I am much obliged by the goodness with which you have been pleased to remember, and to comply with my request that you would write to me, and I am thereby encouraged to hope that your correspondence will be continued – It may always be safely conveyed, even when I am away from Congress, by enclosing your letter to the Virginia delegates in Congress. It is a point of much uncertainty whether Congress will adjourn or not this summer – but if they do, it will probably not be before the middle of August. When they adjourn I shall go home, but if they do not adjourn, I shall of course be detained here until the end of the federal year, the first monday in November.

The very great uncertainty to which the conveyance of letters is exposed under the present System, discourages exceedingly all free communication of sentiments. And upon this occasion, as Mr. Mazzie will probably visit you at Paris, he will render unnecessary much writing on my part respecting Virginia, as he has come from that State long since left it. The principal topics of discussion there at present are, An Act for a General Assessment, – A Circuit Court Law – And a plan for opening the interior navigation of Potomac, James, & Elizabeth rivers – The two former were favored by the last Assembly but meet with much opposition since the Recess – The latter of these measures was also a favorite with the last Assembly, and the Legislature of Maryland has joined ours in the Potomac business – How they succeed in the South I know not – But already £40,000 has been subscribed for clearing Potomac – A Corporation for the purpose is legitimated, and Gen. Washington is President of the Society – You well know his persevering spirit, and attentive character – These qualities promise success to the Potomac plan – Congress has just finished an Ordinance for surveying S selling that part of the Land N.W. of Ohio that has been lately purchased of the Indians, for the purpose of discharging our public debts – This will present about 10 Millions of Acres for sale at one dollar an Acre of Liquidated Certificate debt – Subsequent treaties to be held with the Indians will extinguish their claim to about 20 millions more which it is intended to devote to the same purpose, & which will very nearly pay off our whole domestic debt – The foreign will then not be found oppressive – An American Coinage, & the regulation of the Post Office, with some other affairs of importance are now under consideration of Congress – We hope that the powers & directions given by Congress to our Ministers abroad, will secure peace for us with the Barbary States and free our Trade from the embarrassement threatened by them – I incline to think however, that Comrnercial finesse has been more operative than the enmity of those people to distress the American Commerce

Being much engaged with public business at this time, I must conclude with presenting my best respects to my old friend M: Jefferson – I am with very much esteem, Sir

Your most obedient & very humble Servant.

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Dreer CollectionHistorical Society of Pennsylvania

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 372 – 74. Endorsed “Given to me by Mr. Short to whom it is addressed in 1834. R. Gilmore.”