<br /> Lee Letter: n411

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Adams

My Dear Sir,

Our public letter1 does not leave me much to
add, but friendship will not suffer me to let this opportunity pass,
without expressing my wishes to congratulate you on your safe arrival
in France. You will find our affairs at your Court in a much more
respectable Train than they have been heretofore, and therefore no
doubt more agreable to you. Finance seems now the only rock upon which
we have any danger of splitting. How far European loans may help us you
can judge, but I fear that the slow operation of Taxes, which indeed
are pretty considerably pushed in many States, will not be adequate to
the large emissions of paper money which the war compels us to make.
The number and activity of the British Cruisers on the coast, and in
the Bays of the Staple States, render it utterly impossible with any
degree of safety, and therefore very unwise, to attempt making
remittances to Europe at present. It is in fact furnishing the enemy
with what they want extremely, and much to our injury. Surely the Court
of France will now give protection to their Commerce to and from
America, the clearest policy demands it. Sir you would be greatly
surprised at the number and value of the French Vessels taken and
destroyed by the English on our Coasts this last winter and spring.
Thus the Marine force of G.B. is actively employed in ruining the
Commerce of France, while her powerful Navy remains unemployed. Can
this be wise? Gen. Howe remains yet in Philadelphia, and our Army where
it was, but daily growing stronger in discipline and in numbers. I am
inclined to think that the enemy will this Campaign act chiefly on the
defensive (carrying on the small war to plunder and distress) holding
all they can in order to get the better bargain of us w11en a Treaty
shall take place. I wish, for the sake of future peace, that we could
push these people quite off this Northern Continent. Monsr.
Beaumarchais by his Agent Monsr. Francy has demanded a prodigious sum
from the Continent for the Stores &c furnished the States. His
accounts are referred for settlement to the Commissioners at
Paris,2 and I hope they will scrutinize most
carefully into this business, that the public may not pay a large sum
wrongfully. We have been repeatedly informed that the greater part of
these Stores were gratuitously furnished by the Court of France. Holv
then does it come to pass that a private person, a mere Agent of the
Ministry, should now demand pay for the whole?

It will give me singular pleasure to hear from you by all convenient
opportunities, for I am dear Sir, with great sincerity your
affectionate humble servant,

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. Be so kind as to take care of the letters for my brothers and get them


Adams PapersMassachusetts Historical Society

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 405 – 7.

1 Perhaps the Committee for Foreign Affairs’ 14 May letter to the
Commissioners at Paris, which probablv had been drafted before the

2 For Beaumarcllais’ accounts, see Committee of Commerce to the Commissioners
at Paris, 16 May 1778.