<br /> Lee Letter: n367

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

Dear Sir,

Nothing new hath happened that we know of since my last. But it seems
extremely probable that a general engagement will take place in a day
or two between the American Army and Gen. Howe. The Quaker m<otto>
ought to be “Nos turba sumus” for if you attack one, the whole Society
is roused. You will see by the inclosed
Testimonies1 a
uniform, fixed enmity to American measures, which with the universal
ill fame of some capital persons, has occasioned the arrest of old
Pemberton and several others, to prevent their mischievous
interposition in favor of the enemy at this critical moment when the
enemies army is on its way here, with professed design to give this
City up to the pillage of the soldiery. They have taken infinite pains,
according to custom, to move heaven and earth in their favor, and have
transmitted copies of their indecent remonstrances over the Country.
Congress have, to prevent ill impressions, ordered their several
inimical Testimonies to be published in one Handbill. Altho nothing can
be more certain than that Allegiance & protection are reciprocal
duties, yet these Men have the assurance to call for the protection of
those laws and that government, which they expressly disclaim and
refuse to give any evidence of their Allegiance to. There is no doubt
but that they will endeavor by means of the “Friends” in Virginia to
make disturbance and raise discontent there, but this may serve to put
you on your guard. We understand that Gen. Howe has put all his heavy
baggage and even his Tents on board ship and that all his fleet except
a few Ships of war have fallen down to the mouth of Sassafrass, and
many of them gone down the Bay. The Army has three or 4 days victuals
cooked and by all their Man#339;uvres it seems clear that they mean to
urge their way to this place. Gen. Washington is within 6 miles of
their main Body and determined not to remove without a battle. By your
letter of the 30th2 last it would seem that
you have not received many letters from me that I have written, not one
post since my arrival here on the 12 of August having gone without a
letter to you with all the material news, besides one by Express. It is
realy discouraging to write so much as I do having so little time, and
yet my friends not receive my letters. This day Congress have proposed
that the Quaker Tories should be sent forthwith to Stanton in Augusta,
I hope you will have them well secured there for they are mischievous
people.3 Should Howe be disappointed here,
as it seems very likely that he will, it is more than probable that he
will endeavor to do us all the injury in his power as he returns, and
therefore it will be wise to be as well prepared for him as possible. I
am dear Sir most affectionately yours

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. – The worthy Baron Kalb desires me to aid your good offices in procuring
his baggage to be forwarded by sending you the inclosed which shews the
rout travelled and where his Trunks were left – at Wrights Ordinary.

R.H. Lee


Receiver’s copy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:92. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 320 – 22.

1 Lee may have enclosed the special 5 September “Appendix” of the Penn
sylvania Evening Post, which contained a 20 December 1776, address
urging Quakers to refuse to assist in the American war effort and a
4 September 1777, remonstrance of Israel Pemberton, John Hunt, and
Samuel Pleasants claiming the rights of freemen against arbitrary
confinement. Pemberton and other prominent Philadelphia Quakers had
been arrested by Pennsylvania authorities at the recommendation of a
congressional committee of which Lee was a member. On 6 September
Congress had approved this committee’s recommendation that Quaker
records seized from the confined Quakers should be published, and
nine of the “testimonies” and “epistles” presented at various Quaker
meetings held in 1775 – 77 were printed in the 9 September issue of
Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet. For information on the origin of this
episode and the developments that led to the arrest and removal to
Virginia of several Quakers, see John Hancock to William Livingston,
30 August 1777, note.

2 Henry’s 30 August letter to Lee is in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry,
Life, Correspondence and Speeches,
3 vols. (New York: Charles
Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 3:89 – 90.

3 For Henry’s 12 September response to Lee acknowledging this
request, see ibid., pp. 94 – 95.