<br /> Lee Letter: n418

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee, for the Committee of Five
Recipient: Lord Howe

My Lord1

The unprovoked and cruel war that has been waged against these States,
renders every idea inadmissible, that proposes a return to the
domination of that Power which by its own Acts of devastation and
slaughter, has forced a separation. The Acts of the British Parliament
lately transmitted by your Lordship having this domination principally
in view require no further comment. But the good people of N.A. my Lord
not insensible of what belongs to humanity, can forgive their enemies,
and wish to stop the effusion of human blood. When therefore the king
of G.B. shall be seriously disposed to peace, Congress will readily
attend to such terms as may consist with the honor of Independent
nations, with the interest of their Constituents, and with the sacred
regard they mean to pay to Treaties.

By order of Congress


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in Smith, Letters of Delegates, 10:34. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, p. 411. Lee drafted this letter as a member of the committee of five appointed to reply to the letters sent Congress by Lord Howe and Henry Clinton, written respectively on 27 May and 3 June. Lee wrote and struck out the signature “H. Laurens,” and endorsed the letter “Draught of answer for the British Commission. June 6, 1778.” Congress adopted the final draft on 6 June.

1 Richard Henry Lee wrote this intended letter to Lord Howe as a member of
the committee appointed this day to formulate a response to recently
received letters from Howe and Sir Henry Clinton forwarding three
conciliatory acts of Parliment

to Congress. Since the delegates approved a more moderate reply to
Howe drawn up by William Henry Drayton, one of Lee’s colleagues on
this committee, it is possible that Lee’s draft was never presented
to Congress for consideration. See JCC,
11:572 – 74.