<br /> Lee Letter: n432

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas Jefferson

Dear Sir

I agree entirely with you concerning the importance of the confederation,
and have never failed to press it. Ten States have ratified – Jersey,
Delaware, and Maryland have not, and one of them, Maryland, has
adjourned until November, so that the new Congress under the
Confederation cannot meet this year at the time proposed by the
Confederacy. The inclosed paper contains all the news we have, except
that it is well reported that Lord Howe being reenforced by 4 Ships of
the Line sailed from N. York on Thursday last with his whole force to
Attack the French Squadron now at Rhode Island. Howe has a greater
number of Ships, but Count D’Esteing has heavier Metal. The attack by
Sea and Land was to be made this day on the enemy at R. Island, where
they have 5500 men strongly posted and 3 or 4 frigates. Our force will
be about 14000 men besides the Squadron. Success seems certain if Ld.
Howe does not get up in time to prevent it. The Count D’Esteing is an
Officer of approved merit, and his Ships very strong in every respect,
so that I think he will check the British insolence on the Sea as we
have already done on the land. No war in Europe on the 10th of June,
nor do I believe G. Britain means to resent the proceedings of France.
It seems to be a contest between the two Nations which shall be last in
declaring War. Some advantages to accrue from Treaties is the cause of
this. To us it matters little, since we so powerfully experience the
aid of France. For it is certain this Squadron is to Act with and for
us so long as the enemy by continuing here renders it necessary. There
is great probability that the Emperor of Germany and the King of
Prussia will fall out about the Bavarian dominions. Theirs will be a
battle of Giants, each party having 300,000 men, the best disciplined
Troops in the world. France, I fancy, has taken measures to avoid
engaging in this quarrel, that her whole force may be employed against

The design against Detroit is abandoned for the present, and a force will
be sent into the Indian Country to chastise their late
insolences.1 I heartily wish that the wisdom
of our Country may be early next Session employed to regulate our
finance, restore public credit, determine about our back lands, and if
possible get rid of our public Commerce. If it succeeds with us, I
believe it will be the first instance that has ever happened of the
kind. But many there are of injury derived from such Trade. Whilst
necessity impelled, it was unavoidable, but now that private Commerce
will furnish abundance of all things, I incline to think our interest
will consist in withdrawing from governmental Trade. Remember me to Mr.

I am yours dear Sir very sincerely,

Richard Henry Lee2


Thomas Jefferson PapersLibrary of Congress

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 430 – 31. printed also in R. H. Lee, Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee and his Correspondence, 2:43.

1 See Henry Laurens to Patrick Henry, 24 July 1778, note 3.

2 On 17 August Lee also wrote a brief letter to “Reverend Bartholemew Booth
To the care of Richard Potts Esquire at Frederick Town in Maryland,”
inquiring on what terms Booth would consent to undertake the
education of his two nephews, recently placed in his charge because
of the death of his brother Thomas Lee. Gift Collection, Maryland Archves.