<br /> Lee Letter: n234

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Alexander McDougall

Sir,

Attention to the public business, and an immediate answer to your letter
not being necessary, will, I hope, be my excuse for not sooner
acknowledging the receipt of your favor of June the
5th.1 The case you mention has not yet come
under consideration of the Congress. It is a hard one no doubt, but how
to give relief, without again introducing that Commodity to public use,
is a question of much difficulty. New York is not a singular instance
of such suffering, they are plentifully scattered thro all the existing
Colonies. Should Congress determine to admit the sale & the use of
what tea is on hand, may not bad men take the advantage of the
impossibility of distinguishing this from newly imported Tea &
exerting their wits conceal the importation, & thus render abortive
our Association against this article, the hateful cause of the present
disagreeable situation of N. America. I fear this case is among the
number of those unavoidable evils introduced into Society, by the want
of public virtue. I am acquainted with very many instances of large
quantities of stopt Tea in Virginia, but I am happy to find that the
Sufferers bear their misfortune with much patience in consideration of
the public good resulting therefrom. It is more than a year now since
the use of Tea has been totally banished from Virginia. Do you not
think Sir, that Gen. Gage will turn his eyes to N. York for Winter
Quarters for part of his Army, and may it not be wise to be prepared
for resisting a plan calculated to afford shelter in cold weather to
Men who will certainly enter upon our destruction when the Season
changes?

I am, with much regard, Sir your most obedient humble Servant.

Rich. H. Lee

Alex. McDougal Esq. N. York.

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 143 – 44.

1 Alexander McDougall (1732 – 86), New York merchant and prominent radical leader, subsequently a general in the Continental Army, 1776 – 80, and
delegate to Congress, 1781, had written Lee on behalf of local
traders who had been unable to dispose of Dutch tea before the
Association became effective. He suggested that should Congress allow
these merchants to dispose of the tea they had on hand, they would
probably use the capital to import arms and ammunition. McDougall to
Lee, June 5, 1775. Southern Literary Messenger 30 (April 1860):
261 – 62.