<br /> Lee Letter: b418

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: James Monroe

Dear Sir,

I was yesterday honored with your polite and obliging letter of december the 30th last past, for which I pray you to accept my best thanks, as well as for your kind attention to my papers. I fear the state of my health, tho improving, will not permit my setting out for Congress before the last of this month – So that I can only hope to be with you early in February. If no unforeseen accident happens I shall be with you then. You are pleased to ask my opinion u on the two subjects that you state as depending before Congress – With respect to an increased duty on imported spirits, I am informed the temptation to smuggle is already so great, that in some places the smuggling of this article is much practised – nd how it may be wise to tempt Men into the practise of violating law, deserves due consideration. To a reasonable & unabusive excise I have no objection. It does not appear to me that the public have any business to become Bankers, because Banks are capable of great abuses, and because such abuses practised by Government, leave injured Individuals too much without redress – A very great Author has given that obvious reason why Governments should not Trade; & banking is kind of Traffic that tempts by interest to abuse – To this reason you may add, if you please, the very weighty ones to be found in Mr. Smiths Wealth of Nations Chapt. 2. Part 1st. 3d. Vol. The reasons assigned by that sensible Author against the Government of England being so engaged, must be seen by every person experienced in American Affairs, to apply here with very increased force.

I will defer what further I have to say on this and other subjects until I have the pleasure of seeing you. My respects to Mrs. Monroe, & to all my friends I wish to be remembered – Particularly to M: Jefferson & the Shippen family – I am dear Sir

Your affectionate friend & Servant.

Richard Henry Lee


James Monroe PapersLibrary of Congress

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 541 – 42. Endorsed “relating to increased duty on imported spirits.”