<br /> Lee Letter: n334

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Robert Morris

Dear Sir,

The following extract of a letter from London dated 21st of September last
I send for your future government. “The Americans seem strangely
infatuated, for notwithstanding the repeated perfidy they have
experienced from the Scotch & the bitter hatred every one of that
nation, in all parts of the world, bear to the American cause, some how
or other that people are parties concerned in all the trade that the
Americans carry on to parts of Europe, in consequence of which the B.
Ministry have an accurate accot. of every Vessel that arrives in every
Port of Europe from America with the particulars of her returns and
they know also of every Vessel that loads in Europe for America. This
is accomplished principally by the means of the house of Hope & Co.
in Amsterdam (all of them Scotchmen) who have the most extensive
correspondence of any power in Europe & have been employed these
two years to give the British Ministry information of whatever is done
in any of the European Ports relative to America. Besides the Scotchmen
& Tories in London seem to be the only persons in whom the
Merchants of America at present place confidence by which means two
Ships have been lately stopt by the Magistracy of Hamburgh that were
loading there, as is supposed on account of Messrs. Willing &
Morris & Co. in Philadelphia.

“The bills with which their Cargos were to be purchased, were remitted for
negotiation to some Scotch House in London, & it is imagined thro
that Channel information was given of the real destination of the
Vessels, th’ the property appears to be British & the Vessels were
said publickly to be bound to Madeira. However upon this information,
the British resident there, Mr. Matthias applied to the Magistracy of
Hamburgh, who have stoped the Vessel, & some say, have imprisoned
the Masters. You know that Hamburg is a very small independent State
that must at all times comply with the requisitions of the strong
European Powers in order to preserve their independence.

“It is said that a plan is formed with France to supply that Country with
Tobo. from America, should this be the case, they, vizt. the Americans
will no doubt take care to send there, only such kind of Tobo. as the
French have been accustomed to receive, otherwise the general trade in
that Comodity will hereafter be much injured, if not totally ruined.” I
do not write you this on a supposition that you have meddled with these
treacherous people, but to put you on your guard against those who mean
our Ruin.1

I am with much esteem Sir your most obedient Servant,

Richard Henry Lee

In great haste


Receiver’s copy, James S. Copley Library, La Jolla, Calif., 1974.

1 For Morris’ reply, see Morris to Lee, December 27, 1776.