<br /> Lee Letter: n308

Washington and Lee University

As the scarcity of Arms, artillery, and other military stores is so
considerable, would it not be proper to instruct the Ambassador to
France that he press for the immediate supply of 20, or 30 thousand
stand of well fitted Muskets & Bayonets, a good supply of brass
field pieces, Gunpowder &c. These to be sent under convoy, and the
13 States engaged for the payment. A few good Engineers would be
greatly serviceable. It seems very clear that France means not to let
N.A. sink in the present Contest, but distance and difficulty in giving
true accounts of our condition may be the cause of opinions being
entertained of our power to support the War on our own strength and
resources longer than we can in fact do. Considering this may it not be
proper for the Ambassador to press for the immediate and precise
declaration of France, Upon a suggestion that our reunion with G.B. may
be greatly endangered by delay.

Should Spain be disinclined to our cause from an apprehension of danger to
her South American dominions, cannot France be prevailed on at our
request and assurances not to disturb theirs to Gurantee to that Crown
her Territories there against any molestation from us.

Should not the Ambassador be instructed to give us the most speedy &
effectual intelligence of his progress in this business, and of any
other European intelligence that it may import us to know.

Notes:

Manuscript, American Philosophical Society. In the hand of Richard Henry
Lee. Endorsed by Lee: “Propo’sed addition to the instructions given
the Commissioners going to France 1776 Octr. Agreed to.”

1 On August 27 the plan of foreign treaties was recommitted to committee. At
the same time Richard Henry Lee and James Wilson were added to the
committee, which was then ordered “to draw up instructions pursuant
to the amendments made by the committee of the whole.” Lee must have
written this document before September 10, since these instructions
were incorporated almost verbatim into the committee’s report,
which-according to Charles Thomson’s endorsement – was “bro’t in Septr.
10, 1776.” The committee’s report, with additional amendments by
George Wythe and Lee, was approved on September 24 and served as the
basic directions to the commissioners to France who were appointed on
the 26th. See JCC, 5:709 – 10, 813 – 17, 827.