<br /> Lee Letter: n441

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Brother,

This will be delivered you by the Baron Arand who has served some time in
our Army, and who now returns to France, with leave, on account of his
health.1 Your two letters of July the 3d.
& March 2d. came to my hands two days ago. Where the latter has so
long been, I do not know. I shall observe the caution contained in the
former, and give Loudon 2 the same. I do not
know that we have erred in this way upon any occasions of consequence.
I must here repeat my former advice, not to use the book cypher you
have hitherto done, unless where you have reason to suppose the Bearer
of the letter will deliver it himself. It may be good against his
curiosity, but not against that of many others who by Carmichaels
treachery have got possession of the key to this mode of corresponding.
You were not mistaken in the union you supposed would be formed here
between Carmichael & {Deane}.3 They go
hand in hand & are closely allied in forming {faction} – Nor have
they been unsuccessful in their wicked labors – But I trust, not in a
manner to avail them much, or to {injure} you. The {scheme} is not yet
completely opened, but before we part with {Deane}, we shall endeavor
to get as much truth out, as will save the public from injury. I wish
we had all the evidence on your side – But Mr. Stephenson is alone here,
4 and we must call for his evidence to fix
Carmichaels charges against {Deane} when the former was at Nantes. The
necessity of immediately appointing a {plenipotentiary} for our {ally}
has occasioned a vote for the {Doctor},5 and
his credentials & instructions will soon be sent. In a few days the
other {Courts} will be determined on – {You} and our
{brother}6 I think will not be {shaken}, but
I assure you that envy, selfishness, and {Deane’s} arts have created a
strange spirit among many, and will require on your parts great wisdom
and much {caution} in all your {conduct} and {correspondence}. The
{Doctor} is as I always thought him, I am not in the least disappointed
or informed by any thing {immoral}7 that I
hear of him. We do not know he has {written} any thing against {you}
but I strongly {suspect} it from the conduct of some Men. However,
virtue will prevail over vice in the end if tolerable prudence support
the former. The {Doctor} is {old} and must soon be {called} to
{account} for his {misdeeds}; therefore {bear} with him, if possible.
In order to provide for {Deane} I suppose, it has been proposed to have
a {consul} {general} in France, but this I think will never prevail.
{One} in each {port} of consequence, and appointed by {Congress} the
public good demands, and this will probably be done.

But {Deane’s} pride nor avarice will let him in here. I wish our brother
may succeed in either of his missions – I fear he will in neither until
these Courts have taken decided parts with regard to their contemplated
war. The arrival of Byrons Squadron has given the enemy superiority at
Sea over our friends, but we hope it will not long continue so. The
Count is at present refitting safely in Boston from his damage in the
Storm where he will soon be ready. The English fleet has been off that
harbor but are now off Rhode Island. The movements in New York denote
an intention soon to abandon that place, I suppose to strengthen
Canada, Hallifax & the West Indies. Our accounts are now very good
that the enemy lost between 12 & 1500 killed & wounded in the
late battle where they were defeated on Rhode Island. I pray you my
dear brother not to keep Ludwell8 a moment
longer than it is convenient for you. A well grounded knowledge of
eloquence, Civil & natural law will fit him for pursuing in
Virginia the study of the laws of Engd. & his own Country. Besides,
the justice I owe my other children will not allow very great
partiality in expence on any one or two. Yet would not withhold what
may be necessary for good foundations. But my income is chiefly paper
money, and that you know will not reimburse you in Europe or serve my
Sons there. Can you contrive the contents of this letter to William, I
know not whether to address him at Vienna or Berlin. The Bark you
kindly sent me has been of great service to me, but I shall want more
next year, therefore pray send me some, if possible, directly to
Virginia. I shall be glad of any valuable new publications whether in
France or England.

Not being forewarned at the time, and it being so long since Sim. Deane’s
arrival that I cannot recollect all the letters you sent me a list of – I
did receive several by him, but I do not remember those for Owen or
Pringle. I believe the rest came.

I sincerely wish you health, happiness & success. Adieu,

Richard Henry Lee

[P.S.] My best love to my boys, brother & sister. Remember me
affectionately to Mr. Adams


Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, pp. 435 – 37. Endorsed “Letter for Dr. Lee Septr. 1778. Returned the Officer leaving it behind. Some of this letter to be written yet.”

1 Baron d’Arendt’s 21 August 1778, letter to Richard Henry announcing his
plan to return to France is in the Lee Family Papers, University of Virginia Archives. See also
JCC, 11:808 – 9.

2 Francis Lightfoot Lee.

3 Words in braces here and below are in cipher in the receiver’s copy. For discussion of
the cipher used by the Lees, see Richard Henry Lee to Arthur Lee, 12 May 1778, note 2.

The “union you supposed would be formed here between Carmichael &
Deane” was about to become a matter of concern to the Lees, for this
day Congress resumed consideration of Silas Deane’s request for
clarification of his status and concluded by directing him to attend
Congress on the 18th “to answer such questions as the house may
propose to him, for the better understanding of the state and
progress of public affairs during his mission in France.”
JCC, 12:908, 920, 927. But before Deane was
permitted to appear, debate on his request was apparently reopened
the morning of the 18th (Secretary Thomson’s journal entry on this
point has been lined out), and subsequently Congress was diverted by
a report, submitted by Richard Henry Lee the same afternoon, that
William Carmichael had knowledge of instances of Deane’s
“misapplication of public monies &c.” Thereupon attention shifted
to Carmichael’s relations with Deane in France and allegations
against Deane made by Arthur Lee growing out of reports he had
received from two American merchants in France, John Lloyd of South
Carolina and William Stevenson of Maryland. “I am confident in my
opinion,” Lloyd had reported in a 24 January 1778, letter to Lee,
“that Mr. Carmichael is at present positively determined to expose
upon his arrival in America, Mr. Deane’s conduct as a Commissioner,
in the fullest extent,” a view repeated in a 1 February letter to Lee
from Stevenson. The circumstances that frustrated the Lees at this
time, however, was simply that Carmichael had patched up his
relationship with Deane but had had a falling out with Arthur Lee
before he had left France and was now reluctant to offer information
against the former, although he had once so freely admitted to Lloyd
and Stevenson that he was prepared to. The originals of their letters
to Arthur Lee are located in the Lee Papers, MH-H; but the fact that
copies of these and other related Lloyd and Stevenson letters can be
found in the Laurens Papers, ScHi, Lee Papers, University of Virginia Archives, and Peter Force
Collection, Library of Congress, suggests that considerable significance was attached
to their intelligence and that several delegates obtained access to

For the examination of Carmichael before Congress and the steps taken to
compel his testimony, see Gouvernor Morris’ Proposed Resolve on
William Carmichael, 18 September; and Charles Thomson’s Notes on
William Carmichael’s Examination, 28 September 1778. For information
on Carmichael, and an extended analysis of Richard Henry Lee’s role
in the entire Deane-Arthur Lee affair, see Floyd B. Streeter, “The
Diplomatic Career of William Carmichael,” Maryland Historical
8 (June 1913): 120 – 27; and Paul C. Bowers, “Richard Henry
Lee and the Continental Congress, 1774 – 1779,” (Ph.D. diss., Duke
University, 1965), pp. 280 – 341.

4 William Stevenson, whose arrival in America in June had been reported by
James Lovell in the Committee for Foreign Affairs’ 20 June 20 1778,
letter to Benjamin Franklin.

5 Benjamin Franklin.

6 William Lee.

7 Whether “immoral” or “immoderate” was intended must be conjectured.

8 Richard Henry’s son Ludwell, whose education in France was being supervised by Arthur.