<br /> Lee Letter: n299

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Samuel Adams
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Sir

I must acknowledge that when you left Congress, I gave you Reason to expect
a letter from me before this Time. You will not, I am very certain,
attribute my omission to the Want of a most cordial Esteem for you. The
Truth is, I hardly know how to write without saying something of our
Canadian Affairs; and this is a Subject so thoroughly mortifying to me,
that I could wish totally to forget all that has past in that Country.
Let me however just mention to you that Schuyler & Gates are to
command the Troops to be employ’d there, the former, while they are
without, and the latter, while they are within the Bounds of Canada.
Admitting both these Generals to have the military Accomplishments of
Marlborough and Eugene, I cannot conceive that such a Disposition of
them can be attended with any happy Effects, unless Harmony subsists
between them. Alas! I fear this is not the Case. Already Disputes have
arisen, which they have referrd to Congress! And though they appear to
treat each other with a Politeness becoming their Rank, in my Mind,
Altercations between Commanders who have Pretensions so nearly equal, I
mean in Point of Command, forebode a Repetition of Misfortunes. I
sincerely wish my Apprehensions may prove to be groundless.

General Howe, as you have heard, is arrivd at New York. He has brought with
him from 8 to 10,000 Troops. Lord Howe arrivd the last Week, and the
whole Fleet is hourly expected. The Enemy landed on Staten Island.
Nothing of Importance has been done, saving that last Fryday at about
three in the Afternoon a 40 and a 20 Gun Ship with several Tenders,
taking the Advantage of a fair & fresh Gale and flowing Tide,
passed by our Forts as far as the Encampment at Kings bridge. General
Mifflin who commands there in a letter of the 5 instant informd us he
had twenty one Cannon planted and hoped in a Week to be formidable.
Reinforcements are arrivd from N England, and our Army are in high
Spirits. I am exceedingly pleasd with the calm & determind Spirit,
which our Commander in Chiefe has discoverd in all his Letters to
Congress. May Heaven guide and prosper him! The Militia of the Jerseys
Pennsylvania & Maryland are all in Motion. General Mercer commands
the flying Camp in the Jerseys. We have just now appointed a Committee
to bring in a Plan for a Reinforcement to compleat the Number of 20,000
Men to be posted in that Colony.1

Our Declaration of Independency has given Vigor to the Spirits of the
People. Had this decisive Measure been taken Nine Months ago, it is my
opinion that Canada would at this time have been in our hands. But what
does it avail to find fault with what is past. Let us do better for the
future. We were more fortunate than I expected in having 12 of the 13
Colonies in favor of the all important Question. The Delegates of N
York were not enpowerd to give their Voice on either Side. Their
Convention has since acceeded to the Declaration & publishd it even
before they receivd it from Congress. So mighty a Change in so short a
Timel N Jersey have finishd their Form of Government, a Copy of which I
inclose. They have sent us five new Delegates, among whom are Dr.
Witherspoon & Judge Stockton. All of them appear to be zealously
attachd to the American Cause. A Convention is now meeting in this City
to form a Constitution for this Colony. They are empowerd by their
Constituents to appoint a new Committee of Safety to act for the
present & to chuse new Delegates for Congress. I am told there will
be a Change of Men, and if so, I hope for the better.

A Plan of Confederation has been brot into Congress wch I hope will be
speedily digested and made ready to be laid before the several States
for their Approbation.2 A Committee has now
under Consideration the Business of foreign Alliance. It is high time
for us to have Ambassadors in foreign Courts. I fear we have already
sufferd too much by Delay. You know upon whom our Thoughts were turned
when you was with us.

I am greatly obligd to you for favoring me with the Form of Goverment
agreed upon by your Countrymen.3 I have not
yet had time to peruse it, but dare say it will be a Feast to our
little Circle. The Device on your great Seal pleases me much.

Pray hasten your Journey hither. Your Country most pressingly solicits, or
will you allow me to say demands your Assistance here. I have written
in great Haste.

Adieu my dear Sir, and be assured that I am very
affectionately, your Friend.


Receiver’s copy, American Philosophical Society.

1 See JCC, 5:561 – 62.

2 A draft plan of the articles of confederation was presented to Congress on
July 12. JCC, 5:546.

3 Lee’s letter to Adams of July 6, in which he enclosed a copy of Virginia’s
new constitution, is in Richard Henry Lee, The Letters of Richard
Henry Lee, ed. James C. Ballagh, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan Co.,
1911 – 14), 1:207 – 8.