<br /> Lee Letter: n321

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Landon Carter

My dear Colonel,

Mr. Dye having been hurried away a day or two sooner than he expected,
prevented my writing to you by him. He will not probably be with you
sooner than this, as Mr. Colston sets off early tomorrow morning.

I have been so entirely engaged in politics, that I found myself very badly
qualified for the business you was pleased to put into my hands; indeed
I presently found that Dye wou’d manage it much better than I cou’d;
engaged as I was with other business. I therefore desired him to sell
your tobo. with the rest, & settle the Accts. with you. I do not
think you will suffer by it, bad as the venture has turned out. It
wou’d give me pain, if I was not sure you will beleive that it was not
want of inclination that prevented my doing the business myself. I have
sent you nothing but the medicines, being desirous that you shou’d
judge for yourself; after having received full information from Mr.
Dye, as to the price of goods here. If you determine to have the other
things, Mrs. Lee & myself will purchase them upon the first notice,
and I expect there will be many opportunities to Poto. or Rapa.

The exorbitant high prices of good is occasion’d in a great measure by the
artifices of the wealthy tories cheifly in this State, in order to
distress the Army & people, and to depreciate the Cont. Cury.
Congress cannot with propriety interfere in this business; as the
states now have powers competent to prevent the evil. The mischief has
been pointed out, & the states requested to apply a remedy; but
unhappily the rage of making regulations for future ages is gone forth,
& little attention is paid to immediate defence; while our Enemies,
open & concealed, are exerting every nerve to put a speedy end to
our political existence. What a fine fund of ridicule, will our fine
systems afford to our Victorious adversaries! I entirely agree with
your Author, as to the impropriety of Overseers mustering. It woud be
well enough to make them keep their arms in good order. However these
young hands must run wild a little at first.

You was in the right not to be alarm’d all is well in Congress; only the
members grow weary, go off & leave us too thin; which obliged us to
call for them. There are some, my dear Col. who wish the Congress to be
divided & contemptible; as that cant be accomplished, the next
thing is to make the world think it is so. These endeavors affect me
only as the public good is concern’d. Your sentiments with respect to
the same persons continuing long in high offices, have my full
approbation, & therefore tho, I hope, not in the least intoxicated,
but most confoundedly tired, I shall next spring beg leave to retire to
Virginia, and shall then have the pleasure of laying my conduct before
you, as one of my constituents, over a bowl of your good brandy toddy.

Congress made no observations on the report of the Committee to Ld.
Howe,1 thinking it better to leave the plain
facts to the judgment of the people. This was not my opinion, &
allways hoped some private hand wou’d have done it, but alass!
Constitutions employ every pen. I have not yet been able to meet with
Doctr. Bond, when I do, shall confer upon the subject of your Letter,
& let you know the results. The two mighty British armies are not
likely to effect much in the State of N. York this year; when we heard
last from Ticonderoga, Carlton was at Crown Point, uncertain whether he
wou’d retire into Canada, or make an attempt upon Ticonderoga; if the
latter, Gates thinks he can drub him. As to Genl. Howe, after long
attempting to get by our Army & penetrate into the Country, we this
moment learn by express from Genl. W. that he decamped the other night
with precipitation, & is making his way toward the City of N. York.
The Genl. is uncertain what the Enemy means to do next, but thinks he
will either cross the North River & endeavor to come thro’ the
Jerseys to this City; or will move to the Southward. If his Ships
prevent our Army from crossing the North river, we shall be in a bad
pickle. I hope the Southern states will be able to keep him at bay,
till they are reinforced. But your Convention must really give a truce
to every consideration, but warlike preparations. Tis vain to sow the
feild, unless it is fenced against the spoiler. Our best respects to
our friends of Sabine Hall. I am with much esteem Dear Col., Yr. afft.
hble Sevt.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Inclosed is the apothecary’s bill for the medicines. I recd. £14 from Dye.


Receiver’s copy, New York Public Library.

1 See JCC, 5:76546.