<br /> Lee Letter: n240

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

My dear Col.

I received your Letter with great pleasure tho contrary to your expectation
it paid postage to the hated Post office. As the constitutional post
now goes regularly, we may with a safe conscience say how d’ye to each
other.1 It gives me concern to hear that you
are withdrawing from public business;2 upon
my word, this is not a time for men of abilities with good intentions
to be only spectators, if we cant do all the good we cou’d wish, let us
at least endeavour to prevent all the mischeif in our power. Your good
friend Ld. Dunmore is endeavouring to raise all the powers on earth to
demolish poor Virginia. We have advice, that at his earnest
sollicitation a fleet may be expected this fall to ravage our
defenceless plantations & burn our little Towns. And we have lately
discovered a plot of his & Conolly’s, which is to be executed in
the following manner. Conolly despairing of getting up the Country
through Virga. or the Carolina’s, is to go to St. Augustine from thence
to the Creeks & Cherokees, and through all the tribes to Detroit;
by general Gage’s commission he is to have the Garrison & Cannon of
that place, & the assistance of the French at that settlement. With
all these he is to form an army in the spring, & march to
Pitsburgh, from thence to Alexandria, proclaiming freedom to all
servants that will enlist; there he is to be join’d by Dunmore with the
fleet & troops from England & march through the Country. He has
Captains commissions from Dunmore for Cornstalk & White Eyes. We
have given the earliest intelligence of these schemes to our Com. of
safety, & hope with their endeavours assisted by the Carolinas
& Georgia, that Conolly may be intercepted this fall or
winter.3 Our military operations this
campaign have been very languid, from the want of powder, but we still
hope, our success in Canada will be such, as to cut a figure for the
first essay. Such measures have been taken, as give us good reason to
expect a plentifull supply of that necessary article before the next
spring; and then we shall be in readiness to receive the very warm
attack, which from all our advices, the Ministry are preparing for us.
But least we shou’d fail in being supply’d from abroad, every man
shou’d exert himself in making saltpetre. Your several plantations
wou’d furnish a good deal, & you know the process is easy. With
plenty of powder, the Victory is surely ours.

Octr. 22d. Here I was interrupted yesterday evening by an express for Doct.
Shippen to our worthy speaker. He went out to dine with Mr. Hill and
while at dinner was suddenly seized with a dead palsy, and this morning
we are inform’d that he died last night.4
You knew his Virtues & will lament the loss of the friend and
Patriot. I am so concern’d that I cant think of politicks.

My best respects to my good friend Mr. Carter.5
I have got a man at work to make his wool cards, & we are in
possession of Miss Betsys musick, which shall be sent by the first
opportunity. Mrs. Lee Jolns me in every good wish to Mrs. Carter &
Miss Lucy. We have no doubt of Miss Lucy’s happiness in the married
state, as so much depends upon herself, & knowing the worth of Mr.
Colston. Remember me to all friends. When I shall see them, God knows.

Believe me my dear Col. your sincerely affect. friend & respectfull
Francis Light. Lee


Receiver’s copy, Virginia Historical Society.

1 Although this is the first of Lee’s extant letters written from
Philadelphia, his congressional service commenced on September 11
when he arrived there to begin a term to which he had been elected on
August 15 in place of Richard Bland. His claim against Virginia,
dated Philadelphia, August 11, 1776, included £762-15s-0 for
“attendance on Congress from Sepr. 8, 1775, to Aug. 10th. 1776
indusive being 339 days at 45s each day” and £11-10s-0 for
“travelling to Philadelphia 230 miles at 1d a mile.” NNPM.

2 Landon Carter (1710 – 78), Virginia planter, member of the House of
Burgesses, 1752 – 68, and chairman of the Richmond County Committee,
1774 – 75, was so incensed by some recently adopted militia regulations
in Virginia that he threatened to resign his office as county
lieutenant in charge of the Richmond militia, although he did not
actually carry out his threat until early in 1776. Jack P. Greene,
ed., The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter of Sabine Hall, 1752 – 1778, 2
vols. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1965), 1:3 – 8,
2:937 – 39.

3 For an account of Dr. John Connolly (c.1743 – 1813) and his abortive plan to
raise a force of loyalists and Indians in the backcountry to oppose
the American cause, see DAB, Supplement one; and Paul H. Smith,
Loyalists and Redcoats: A Study in British Revolutionary Policy
(Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1964), pp. 15 – 18.

4 For comments on Peyton Randolph’s death and funeral, see Robert Treat
Paine’s Diary, October 22; John Adams’ second letter to James Warren,
October 23, 1775; and JCC, 3:3024.

5 Presumably Robert Wormeley Carter (1734 – 97), Landon’s eldest son, who had
been Lee’s colleague from Richmond County in the House of Burgesses
and at recent Virginia conventions. Louis Morton, “Robert Wormeley
Carter of Sabine Hall,” Journal of Southern History, 12 (August 1946):
350 – 51.