<br /> Lee Letter: n225

Washington and Lee University

Sender: John Dickinson
Recipient: Arthur Lee

“The ‘immedicabile Vulnus’ is at length struck. The Rescript to our
Petition is written in Blood. The impious War of Tyranny against
Innocence has commenc’d in the Neighbourhood of Boston.” Describes
battle of Lexington and Concord at length. Continues: “I cannot say, I
am convinc’d of the Truth of all the Particulars above mentioned; tho
all of them are supported by many probabilities. But these Facts, I
believe, You may depend on. That this most unnatural and inexpressibly
cruel War began with the Butchery of the unarm’d Americans at
Lexington – that the Provincials, incredible as it may be at St.
James’s or St. Stephens’ fought bravely – that the Regulars have been
defeated with considerable Slaughter, tho they behav’d
resolutely – that a Tory dares not open his Mouth against the Cause of
America even at New York – that the Continent is preparing most
assiduously for a vigorous Resistance – and that Freedom or an
honorable Death are the only Objects on which their <Sons> are at
present employed.

“What human Policy can divine the Prudence of precipitating Us into these
shocking Scenes? Why have We been so rashly declared Rebels? Why have
Divisions been sent to disarm Us? Why Orders to commence Hostilities?
Why was not General Gage at least restrain’d from Extremities till the
sense of another Congress could be collected? It was the determined
Resolution of some already appointed delegates for it, to have strain’d
every nerve at that Meeting, to attempt bringing the unhappy Dispute to
Terms of Accommodation, safe for the Colonies and honorable &
advantageous for our Mother Country, in whose Prosperity & Glory
our Hearts take as large a Share, as any Minister’s of State, and from
as just and as generous Motives, to say no more of them.

[“]But what Topicks of Reconciliation are now left for Men, Who think as I do,
to address our Countrymen? to recommend Reverence for the Monarch or
Affection for the Mother Country? Will the Distinctions between the
Prince and his Ministers, between the People & their
Representatives wipe out the Stains of Blood? Or have We the slighest
Reason to hope, that those Ministers & Representatives will not be
supported throughout the Tragedy as They have been thro the first Act?
No. While We revere & love, the Sword is open;ng our Veins. In all
human probability, the same Delusions will still prevail, till France
& Spain, if not other Powers, long jealous of Britain’s Force &
Fame, will fall upon her embarrass’d with an exhausting Civil War, and
crushing or at least depressing her, then turn their arms on these
provinces, which must submit to wear their Chains or wade thro Seas of
Blood too dear bought and at best a frequently convuls’d and precarious
Independence.

“All the ministerial Intelligence concerning Us is false. We are a united,
resolved People—are or quickly shall be well arm’d & disciplined. Our Smiths & Powder Mills are at work Day & Night. Our
supplies from foreign Parts continually arriving. Good officers, that
is, well experienc’d ones, We shall soon have – and the Navy of Britain
cannot stop our whole Trade. Our Towns are but Brick and Stone &
Mortar & Wood. They perhaps may be destroyed. They are only the
Hairs of our Heads. If shav’d ever so close, they will grow again. We
compare them not with our Rights & Liberties. We worship as our
Fathers worship’d – not Idols which our Hands have made.”

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Harvard University Libraries. In Dickinson’s hand, though
not signed.