<br /> Lee Letter: n312

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Thomas Jefferson

Dear Sir,

Our affairs at N. York have not much alter’d since your departure, the
Militia of the eastern states have mostly left it, & probably
improved the Army. The Enemy having by every motion shewn a design to
get above our troops, Genl. Washington is busy in removing his stores
from the City, & collecting his forces at & about King’s
bridge, but we fear he has been interrupted by the Enemy, as a very
heavy firing was heard there on Sunday
last.1

Genl. Gates in his last Letter says, there was just then heard a heavy
cannonade upon the Lake, from whence he judged, our fleet under the
command of Genl. Arnold, was engaged with the Enemy, on their way to
Crownpoint. We therefore expect every moment to hear of some
considerable Actions at both places. All our advices from the Indians,
indicate a general war with them. I hope our people will have done the
business of the southern Indians, that they may be ready to chastise
those of the west.

The week before last Ld. Howe sent Genl. Sullivan to Congress with a
message, that he was very sollicitous for peace, that he had great
powers, that tho he cou’d not at present acknowlege the Congress, yet
he wished to confer with some of the members, as private Gentlemen.
This message made a great noise without doors, & it was fear’d
wou’d have a bad effect upon our Military operations. The Congress
fully apprized of the perfidy & villainous designs of these
Ministerial Agents; yet willing to convince our people that they are
not averse to peace; sent him in answer That being the representatives
of free & independant States, they cou’d not allow their Members to
confer with him in their private capacities; but wou’d send a Committee
of their body to know his powers & his terms. The Committee met his
Ld.ship last Wednesday on Staten Island, & had the honor to dine
upon plate with him, & a three hour’s conversation, the substance
of which was: that he had waited 2 months in England to prevail with the Ministry
to empower him to confer & converse with some Gentlemen of
influence in America. That he was sure of the good intentions of the
King & the Ministry; and if we wou’d return to our allegiance, they
wou’d revise the late instructions to Govrs. & Acts of Parliament;
& if there was anything in them which appear’d to them
unreasonable, he did not doubt, but they wou’d make them easy. That he
had no power to suspend the operations of war, or to offer any terms.
The tories are struck dumb, but I fear it will have a bad effect upon
our foreign negotiations; as it will show too great an eagerness in us,
to make up with G.B.

This whole transaction will be soon published by Congress, which the next
post will bring you, & I hope the Accts. of our glorious Victories.

I am Dear Sir, Yr. afft. friend & hble Servant,

Francis Lightfoot Lee

During the conversation Ld. Howe said it wou’d make him very uneasy to see
America plunder’d & laid waste. Doctr. Franklin assured his Ldship
we were taking the most effectual measures to save him that uneasiness.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Jefferson, Papers
(Boyd), 1:520 – 21.

1 Undoubtedly a reference to the British bombardment and landing at Kip’s Bay
on September 15. See also Arthur Middleton to William Henry Drayton,
September 18, 1776, note 1.