<br /> Lee Letter: n456

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: the Public

To the candid and impartial PUBLIC

Mr. Silas Deane having in his Address, in Mr. Dunlap’s last
paper,1 thrown many dishonourable
reflections on several persons highly trusted by America, and too far
distant to answer for themselves, I think it but justice to those
injured characters, to request that you will suspend your judgments,
until the matter is fully investigated by those whose immediate
business it is, and who are most likely to be possessed of the means to
establish the truth, when, no doubt, all the parties will receive their
due, whether of reward or punishment, and the public good be secured.

In the mean time I hope you will take a view of the several characters,
from the commencement of the present contest with Great Britain; the
part they have acted; what they have sacrificed; and what were their
probable prospects; and then I am sure you will agree with me, that the
narrative is void of probability, and ought to be supported with much
better evidence than insinuations, inuendoes, and bare assertions.

As to the decency of the performance with respect to that Body, to which
America must always owe its safety and happiness, I leave it to those
whom it may concern. And the real friends to the independency of
America will determine on the propriety of such a publication, in the
present situation of our affairs. For my own part, I so reverence the
Representatives of the People, and have so warm a concern for the
public welfare, that I had much rather my nearest connections should
suffer a temporary injustice, than offend the one, or in the least
injure the other.

I too, most sincerely wish you to be on your guard. Trust not professions;
hear both sides, and judge from well attested facts.



MS not found; reprinted from the Pennsylvania Packet; or the General
8 December 1778.

1 Deane’s address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America” was printed
in the 5 December issue of the Pennsylvania Packet. It is more
readily accessible in Deane Papers (NYHS Colls.), 21 (1888): 66 – 76.

2 Deane’s response to this letter, which appeared in the 10 December issue of
the Pennsylvania Packet, consists of a quotation from Congress
resolve ordering him to “report to Congress in writing,” and the
following rhetorical statement. “He [Deane] therefore conceives he cannot with propriety continue his narrative
at present: In the mean time he submits it to their [‘free and
virtuous Citizens of America’] good sense, Whether he ought to take
any notice of a publication signed Francis Lightfoot Lee, opposed to
stubborn and undeniable facts.” Ibid., p. 78.