<br /> Lee Letter: n393

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee1
Recipient: Samuel Adams

My dear Sir,

Tho. the times are dull, yet its so long since I had any converse with you,
that I cant help asking how you do. Your time I suppose passes sweetly
on, surrounded with all the delicacies of Boston, and uninterrupted
with the rude alarms of War, but is not your happiness sometimes broke
in upon by the spirit of extortion which rages in your City?

In the midst of my protesting & swearing that they were the most
infamous, vile, execrable, extortionate villains in this State, of any
in the whole world; that they woud soon effect what the British arms
had in vain attempted; in pops a Letter from our Clothing Agent at
Boston informing that it was impossible to procure any supplies, for
that the moderate Merchts., & Whigs too! asked £20 for what
cost one. Guess my surprize & concern: you who know my affection
for your Country, will readily believe I wd. not give credit to it,
’till the Letter was read twice. How happens this my friend? is Joyce
Junr.2 no more?

To be serious, we are absolutely ruined, unless a remedy is found for this
Evil. The Virginia Assembly3 is exerting
itself. They have seized sufficient for their troops in the hands of
Ingrossers, have passed a severe Law against them, & appointed a
Comtee. of their body to hunt them out & prosecute. They have
determined to fill up their Regts. by drafts from the young men &
have laid a heavier tax than I fear they will be able to bear. The
monied wretches from the other States have polluted your City; drive
them off, & purify your people. By Letters from my two brors. from
France we have no reason to expect any of the burthen will be taken off
our Shoulders by the powers of Europe. We do not want it if we will
exert our own strength. The campaign in this quarter has to be sure
been very disgracefull, but we have a great many men now inlisted tho
scatter’d & disordered. I hope we shall find means to collect them
& introduce some (Economy & discipline; And if the States will
draw the Reins of Governmt. a little tight, check the insatiable rage
of avarice, & rouse their people from the present total inattention
to public affairs; I make no doubt we shall put a glorious period to
the contest the next campaign. Our enemy is not near so strong as
heretofore & no prospect of ever becoming so; America in my opinion
is stronger then ever. And yet all is lost unless our people are
reclaimed. I have this day a Letr. from Wmsburg. dated Decr. 12, which
has the following paragraph, which looks well. “A Vessell in 12 Days
from Hispaniola brings advice, that a large Spanish fleet was arrived
at that place with 12000 Soldiers; & their destination was supposed
against Jamaica. It was expected war was then declared against G.B.”
The Tories in Phila. are much tired of their new Guests, Duche gone to
Britain, Doctor Chauvet going to Jamaica. We intend to send Israel
Pemberton into the City to head a party against Howe. what think ye of
the scheme? Tis late, Mrs. Lee in bed & asleep but she left her
commands with me to present her best respects to Mrs. Adams &
Yourself, in which I beg to be joined.

Adieu my friend

Francis Lightfoot Lee

[P.S.] I have corrected some errors in this Letr., you must take care of
the rest, I have not time. Compts. to Mr. J. Adams.


Receiver’s copy, New York Public Library.

1 Lee was one of the committee appointed on December 12 to consider Deputy
Clothier General Samuel A. Otis’ letters of 26 and 29 November.
Congress had approved the committee’s report on 20 December,
recommending that state legislatures take vigorous measures to
suppress speculation in goods needed for the army. See JCC, 9:1022,
1042 – 47.

2 “Joyce Junior” was the pseudonym adopted by a Bostonian who in 1774 led a
committee on tarring and feathering and reemerged in 1777 to drive
several loyalists from the city. See William Duer to John Jay, 28 May 1777, note 2.

3 For acts passed by the Virginia Assembly during the October 1777 session
authorizing the seizure of goods for the army, curbing forestalling
and engrossing, and prohibiting the exportation of pork and beef, see
William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of all
the Laws of Virginia
(Richmond: J. K. G. Cochran, 1821), 9:375 – 77,
382 – 87.