<br /> Lee Letter: n190

Washington and Lee University

Sender: George Washington
Recipient: Thomas Sim Lee


The Letter with which your Excellency was pleased to favor me, dated
the 7 inst: was received on the 10, and might have been acknowledged
the next day; but I waited the arrival of Friday’s mail in hopes that I
should have had a report from the Secretary of War relatively the Ship
Rochampton. Disappointed in this, I am not able to give any opinion
thereon, uninformed as I am of the specific articles of charge which
have been exhibited by the British Consul. The French minister
complains of the detention.

With respect to the second case mentioned in your letter, and those of the
British Consuls, I have only to observe that as these Gentlemen are not
ignorant, that the Custom-house officers in every port are instructed
to keep a vigilant watch upon all armed vessels, and the presumption
being that they also are not inattentive, there seems to have been no
necessity for lodging a complaint unaccompanied with proofs.

It is scarcely possible to give instructions which will embrace every case
minutely that may arise during the war; nor do I conceive it essential.
Your Excellency will readily perceive by the communications which have
been made to you, the principles upon which the
General Government act in the recess of Congress, respecting the
belligerent powers. These principles are to adhere strictly to
treaties, according to the plain construction and obvious meaning of
them, and, regarding these, to act impartially towards all the Nations
at war. Keeping these principles in view and observing the rules which
are founded on them, with your disposition to do justice and to
preserve this Country in peace, I persuade myself you can be at no
loss, that your decisions will be always right, and I hope they will
always be prompt.

Being removed from the public Offices, intending when I left Philadelphia
not to be absent from that City more than fifteen or eighteen days, I
brought no public papers of any sort (not even the rules which have
been established in these cases,) along with me; consequently am not
prepared at this place to decide points which may require a reference
to papers not within my reach. but as I find cases are daily occurring
which call for attention and decision, I have requested the Heads of
Departments to attend at Philadelphia, or in its vicinity, by the 1st
of next month, whither I shall go and be present myself. With great
esteem and regard

I am &c.