<br /> Lee Letter: n175

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir:

I have had the honor to receive your favor of the 15th instant,
and thank you for the ordinance which was enclosed in it. My
sentiments, with respect to the navigation of the Mississippi, have
been long fixed, and are not dissimilar to those which are expressed in
your letter. I have ever been of opinion that the true policy of the
Atlantic States would be instead of contending prematurely for the free
navigation of that river (which eventually, and perhaps as soon as it
shall be our true interest to obtain it) must happen, to open and
improve the natural communications with the western country, through
which the produce of it might be transported with convenience and ease
to our markets. Till you get low down the Ohio, I conceive, that it
would, (considering the length of the voyage to New Orleans, the
difficulty of the current, and the time necessary to perform it in) be
the interest of the inhabitants to bring their produce to our ports;
and sure I am, there is no other tie by which they will long form a
link in the chain of federal union. I believe, however, from the temper
in which those people appear to be, and from the ambitious and
turbulent spirit of some of their demagogues, that it has become a moot
point to determine (when every circumstance which attends this business
is brought into view) what is best to be done. The State of Virginia
having taken the matter up with so high a hand, is not among the least
embarrassing or disagreeable parts of the difficulty.

Will you permit me to put the enclosed under cover to you; from the
Gentleman to whom it is addressed, I have lately received a letter to
which this is an acknowledgment. with very great esteem and regard.

have the honor etc. 1


1 From the “Letter Book” copy in the Washington