<br /> Lee Letter: b379

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Cabell

Sir. –

A gentleman with whom I have had the honor to serve so long in the Councils of my Country, will I am sure pardon me for informing him of my willingness to continue my public services in the Senate of the new Congress, if it shall please the Legislature to elect me to that office. It is, sir, a conviction of mind, resulting from the most mature reflection, that the civil Liberty of our Country will be endangered if amendments cannot be procured to the lately received Constitution, that has prevailed with me again to become a public man. When so many respectable States, and such numbers of respectable citizens in all the States, are anxious for amendments; they will surely take place if such men are appointed to the new Congress as are known friends to Civil Liberty and to the amendments required. And I think that the choice of men of a contrary description will as assuredly defeat the wishes of those who desire to secure the public liberty by shutting the door against the numerous abuses, that in its present form, the new Government admits of. It seems to me that if all the friends of the new system were friends to their Country, they could none of them oppose amendments, that in their nature are calculated only to controul bad but aim not at the restraint of good Government. Yet I have heard some of these friends, now that their plan is adopted, begin to argue a inst amendments until, as they say, experience shall have shewn their propriety. I take the meaning of such men to be, that abuse under the name of use shall be rivetted upon mankind. For the reverence paid to established forms when supported by power has generally proved too strong for correction however necessary it might be. I beg to be remembered to those of your family to whom I am known by having had the honor to serve with them in the General Assembly. I am sir, with much esteem and regard,

Your most obedient and very humble serv’t,

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. – A present indisposition prevents this letter from being all written with my own hand which I hope your goodness will excuse.



Printed in the Virginia Historical Register, 2:20. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 479 – 80.