<br /> Lee Letter: b355

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Francis Lightfoot Lee

My dear brother,

I arrived at this place a week ago almost destroyed with heat and fatigue – Here I found Grayson in the Chair of Congress as Locum Tenens for the President who is absent – After some difficulty we passed an Ordinance for establishing a temporary Government beyond the Ohio, as preparatory to the sale of that country – And now we are considering an offer made to purchase 5 or 6 millions of Acres with pub. Securities – I hope we shall agree with the Offer, but realy the difficulty is so great to get any thing done, that it is not easy for the plainest propositions to succeed – We owe much money, the pressure of Taxes is very great & much complained of – we have now something to sell that will pay the debt & discharge the greatest part of the Taxes and altho’ this something is in a fair way of being soon wrested from us by the Sons of Violence, yet we have a thousand little difficulties that prevent us from selling! – I found the Convention at Phila. very busy & very secret, it would seem however, from variety of circumstances that we shall hear of a Government not unlike the B. Constitution – That is, an Execu<tive> with 2 branches composing a federal Legislature, and possessing adequate Tone. This departure from Simple Democrocy seems indispensably necessary, if any government at all is to exist in N. America – Indeed the minds of men have been so hurt by the injustise, folly, and wickedness of the State Legislatures; & State Executives – that people in general seem ready for any thing – I hope however, that this tendency to extreme will be so controuled as to secure fully and completely the democratic influence acting within just bounds – The Land Speculators continue to urge the Open Missippi immediately, against every principle of policy, common good & common sense – Upon this I shall write you more fully hereafter. The bills of R. Morris have been refused in France, to a very considerable amount it is said – Time must discover how this will work, & what it will produce. The discoveries of fraud among the great Officers of State in France roves that private embezzlement of public Money <is> not confined to America – There seems to be much convulsion in France on this occasion at present – My love, if you please to Mrs. Lee and when you have an opportunity, let me know that you are all well – farewell.

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. I do realy consider it a thing of consequence to the public interest that Colo. H. Lee of Stratford should be in our next Assembly, and therefore I wish you would exert yourself with the old Squire to get his resignation, or disqualification rather, so that his Nephew may get early into the house of Delegates. I know that it is like persuading a Man to sign his own death warrant – but upon my word the state of public affairs renders this sacrifice of place & vanity, necessary.


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 423 – 25. A copy in the Virginia Historical Society is erroneously endorsed as being written to Arthur Lee.