<br /> Lee Letter: n217

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee’s
Recipient: the King

May it please your most excellent Majesty

Graciously to permit your dutiful Subjects the Representatives of your
loyal People in North America to approach the Throne and humbly to
entreat the royal attention to those Grievances, which have for ten
years past, with increasing violence threatned danger and ruin to
Antient Constitutional Rights which your Majesties faithful Subjects in
this western world have long enjoyed under your Majesties royal
Progenetors. The history of these Colonies, may it please your Majesty,
is one continued proof of unshaken loyalty to their Sovereigns, of
unremitting zeal for the glory and prosperity of Great Britain, to
which, their active labors have much contributed. No rebellions, no
traiterous dissaffections have ever disgraced their story, or disturbed
the repose of the Mother Country. These truths may sufficiently prove
to your Majesty, that nothing less than imminent dangers and most
oppressive Grievances could now move a numerous people of such steady
and persevering Loyalty. Such, may it please your Majesty, are certain
Acts of your British Parliament passed in the 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th &
years of your Majesties reign, which destroy every idea of property in
your Majesties American dominions, and in many cases deprive the
Subject of his antient, equitable, and legal trial by Jury, and
unncessarily endanger his life, by ordaining its trial in far distant
Courts, where want of evidence and assistance of friends may conspire
to destroy the most innocent of your Majesties subjects. We say
unnecessarily may it please your Majesty, because your Majesties
Courts, with compitent Laws, are here open to the punishment of all
Offenders who shall dare to commit Treason, or disturb the quiet of
Society. It is not to be wondered, may it please your Majesty, that
apprehensions of distress and danger do greatly disturb your people in
North America, when they see such extensive and unexampled Oppressions
fixed by military force on many thousands of your Majesties brave and
loyal people of the Massachusetts Bay, without their ever having been
called Upon to answer, or heard in their defence, repugnant, as they
have thought, to the practise of the just in all Ages. Added to these
most alarming proceedings, we have the missfortune Great Sir, to see an
arbitrary government and the Roman Catholic religion established in
Canada, now so extended along the borders of the Colonies, as to
comprehend the greater part of North America; a Religion equally
destructive of the indepenc’y of Princes and the Civil and Religious
liberties of Mankind, so fatally fixed on the ruin of Protestants, that
the Laws of England have, since the Reformation carefully guarded
against its admission into the British dominions. Sensible, may it
please your Majesty, that the greatness and glory of the Sovereign are
best sup ported by the freedom and happiness of his people, and devoted
as your Majesties faithful American Subjects are to the Protestant
succession in the House of Brunswick, and most earnestly wishing to
preserve in its greatest purity the excellent Constitution of England
as settled at the Revolution, they feel with the deepest affliction
that their happiness and security can never exist with those violent
and unconstitutional Councils which are ever ready to be suggested by
Tory Counsellors whither in or out of place, Men, whose principles of
Government, however artfully concealed, are at fatal enmity with
Revolution principles and the Hanoverian Succession. May we be
permitted Most gracious Sovereign to assure your Majesty that no
machinations of such Men, or any other of your Majesties Enemies shall
ever succeed, if they can be prevented by the fullest exertion of the
lives and fortunes of your Majesties loyal and affectionate Subjects in
North America. Unpractised in Courts and unused to dissemble, we most
humbly pray your Majesty to pardon the freedom with which duty and
loyalty to our Sovereign compels us to declare that our apprehensions
of danger can never cease so long as the unwise and destructive
Councils of the Lords Bute, Mansfield, and North are suffered to
approach the Throne.

The grievances of your Majesties faithful American Subjects are with great
humility, presented, we hope, for the favorable attention of our
Sovereign, the Father of all his People.

Notes:

Manuscript, University of Virginia Archves. In the hand of Richard Henry
Lee.

1 For the date of this draft, see Edwin Wolf 2d, “The Authorship of the 1774
Address to the King Restudied,” WMQ 22 (April 1965): 196 – 98. See
also Patrick Henry’s Draft Address to the King, c.21 October 1774; and
John Dickinson’s Draft Address to the King, c.22 October 1774.