<br /> Lee Letter: n436

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Bryan

Sir,

Mr. President Laurens having this day informed Congress that your honorable
board desired he would write to Gen. Maxwell concerning Doctor
Birkenhout, it was desired by Congress that I should furnish you with
the Generals letter to me upon the subject, which I have now the honor
of doing.1

I must do Dr. Birkenhout the justice to say, that when I informed him
General Maxwell had written me that he, the Doctor, said he had
“intelligence of much import for Congress” he replied it was a mistake,
and that he attributed it to the General being at the time engaged in
business with many people, and to his having said his business was to
see a Member of Congress, meaning myself. He has further, in
conversation told me, that his plan in coming to America was to find a
proper place to fix himself and his family in a country of freedom, and
where he might advantageously practise physick which is his profession.
For this he assigned many reasons that appeared to me very forcible
ones.

Be pleased Sir to return me the letter of Gen. Maxwell when you have done
with it.

I am, with due regard, Sir your most obedient and very humble servt.

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

George Washington PapersLibrary of Congress

1 There is no mention in the minutes of the Pennsylvania Council of a
decision to request information on John Berkenhout from President
Laurens, or in the journals of Congress of a decision to ask Lee to
send Maxwell’s letter to Vice President Bryan. But for information on
Berkenhout’s case and references to the Pennsylvania Council’s
determinations concerning the doctor, see Richard Henry Lee to
William Maxwell, 29 August; Henry Laurens to William Maxwell,
5 September 1778 and Pa. Council Minutes, 11:567, 569 – 70, 576.