<br /> Lee Letter: n221

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

D. B.

All America has received with astonishment and concern the Speech to
Parliament.1 The wicked violence of Ministry
is so clearly expressed, as to leave no doubt of their fatal
determination to ruin both Countries, unless a powerful and timely
check is interposed by the Body of the people. A very small corrupted
Junto in New York excepted, all N. America is now most firmly united
and as firmly resolved to defend their Liberties ad infinitum against
every power on Earth that may attempt to take them away. The most
effectual measures are every where taking to secure a sacred observance
of the Association. Manufactures go rapidly on, and the means of
repelling force by force are universally adopting. The inclosed Address
to the Virginia Delegates published a few days since in the Gazette
will shew you the spirit of the Frontier Men. This one County of
Fincastle can furnish 1000 Rifle Men that for their number make the
most formidable light Infantry in the world. The six frontier Counties
can produce 6000 of these Men who from their amazing hardihood, their
method of living so long in the woods without carrying provisions with
them, the exceeding quickness with which they can march to distant
parts, and above all, the dexterity to which they have arrived in the
use of the Rifle Gun. Their is not one of these Men who wish a distance
less than 200 yards on a larger object than an Orange. Every shot is
fatal. The Virginia Colony Congress meets the 20th of next month for
the appointment of Delegates to the Continental Congress in May next,
and for other purposes of public security. The Ministry who are both
foolish and wicked, think by depriving us of Assemblies to take away
the advantage that results from united and collected counsels. But they
are grievously mistaken. In despight of all their machinations, public
Councils will be held and public measures adopted for general security.
Still we hope that the proceedings of the last Continental Congress
when communicated to the people of England will rouse a spirit that
proving fatal to an abandoned Ministry may save the whole Empire from
Its impending destruction. The honerable Coll. Lee of Stratford was
buried this day, he died the 21st ultimo after a months painful
illness. He is a public loss, and if the Ministry go on filling up
these vacancies in the Council with raw boys and hotheaded senseless
people, the affairs of Virginia must be in perpetual confusion, altho
the present dispute should be accommodated. It is absolutely necessary
that some grave sensible Men should now be placed there in order to
temper the present body.

The pamphlet entitled an Appeal &c. is, I think the best I have read on
the subject amidst such a variety of finely reasoned
ones.2

Farewell.

P.S. By authentic accounts just come to hand, all the Ministerial ef forts
with New York and the Jersey Governments have failed, both Assemblies
have highly approved the proceedings of the Continental Congress,
thanked their Delegates, and appointed them to represent their
respective Colonies in the next May
Congress.3

From N. York we have lately sent back a Ship from Glasgow with goods that
arrived after 1st of Feby. scarcely allowing the Vessel time to get
fresh provisions. It is now therefore certain that without a redress of
Grievances, G. Britain must prepare to do entirely without the N.
American trade, nor will the British Isles in the W. Indies get their
usual necessary supplies from the Continent. Georgia has acceeded to
the Continental Association, and we understand Canada will have
Delegates in the next Congress. You will oblige me greatly by giving my
boys advice and pressing to diligent application as often as you have
leisure to do so. You never say whether or when you take the Gown, and
where you propose to practice.

Farewell.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, University of Virginia Archives. In Lee’s hand, though not
signed.

1 The king’s speech of November 30, 1774, opening the new Parliament,
appeared in a supplement to John Pinkney’s Virginia Gazette, February
3, 1775, and in Dixon and Hunter’s Virginia Gazette, February 4,
1775. The king’s address, which alarmed Lee, began: “It gives me much
concern that I am obliged, at the opening of this Parliament, to
inform you that a most daring spirit of resistance and disobedience
to law still unhappily prevails in the province of Massachusetts Bay,
and has, in divers parts of it, broke forth in fresh violences of a
very criminal nature. These proceedings have been countenanced and
encouraged in other of my colonies, and unwarrantable attempts have
been made to obstruct the commerce of this kingdom, by unlawful
combinations.”

2 Arthur Lee, An Appeal to the Justice and Interests of the People of Great
Britain, in the Present Disputes with America
(London: J. Almon,
1774).

3 Lee’s information on the disposition of the New York Assembly was
inaccurate. On January 26, 1775, the assembly had refused to consider
the proceedings of the First Continental Congress, and subsequently a
majority in the assembly defeated a series of motions designed to
secure New York’s approval of Congress’ recommendations, including
motions to thank the New York delegates for their work in
Philadelphia and to elect delegates to a Second Congress to meet in
May. Am. Archives. 4th ser. 1:1286 – 87, 1289 – 90.