<br /> Lee Letter: n462

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Bror.

Publications still continue in abundance to blacken the Lees & make
Deane the greatest Man in the World. The cry is in their favor, no one
has dared to enter the lists with them but Common Sense, who tho he has
said a great deal of truth, & much to the purpose, was as far as I
can understand very little regarded, it having been artfully put about
that he was hired, & the poor fellow got a beating from An Officer,
it is said for having wrote the peice. He unfortunately made some
mistakes, which are taken notice of by his Answeror Plain Truth, &
throws a discredit upon the rest.1 It is
really a shame, that when so many things can be alledged against this
man, that the public shou’d be so abused, because Congress will not go
thro’ the business. They have done nothing yet, in the mean time he
continues to insult them. After having long pester’d the Congress by
Letters to hear him, in justification of himself, never hinting that he
has any discovery to make, urging the necessity he was under of going
immediately to

France. And after complaining to the public that he was obliged to
communicate his discoveries to them, because Congress woud not hear
him, as if he cou’d not have given his information to Congress in a
Letter, as well as to the people. After all this Congress on the 8
inst. directed him to put in writing the whole of his transactions
& discoveries while in Europe & told him that if in the mean
time, he had any thing of immediate consequence to communicate, they
woud hear him the next evening. He answered that as he cou’d in two or
three days put everything in writing he did not desire to be heard,
since which we have not heard one word from him in
Congress.2 And yet no notice is taken of
him: in short the Party are determined to support him in everything,
& to contradict the old opinion, that it is impossible to wash the
blackamore white. Finance is yet very backward. God knows what will
become of us. Letters from Rhode Island say Byron’s seamen are very
sickly, which prevents his fleet from moving. This is all our news.

When you come up I wou’d advise you to cross at Kent Island, the road by
Baltimore is very bad.

Love to your fireside & all friends,

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

1 Plain Truth’s “Strictures on the Address of Common Sense to Mr. Deane” was
published in the 21 December issue of the Pennsylvania Packet. The
entry of “Plain Truth” into the Deane-Lee controversy itself touched
off a minor tempest that entertained the readers of John Dunlap’s
Packet the next three weeks. For the letters that were exchanged
during that period between “Plain Truth” and his opponents, and his 30 December admission of his identity as Maj. Matthew Clarkson, see
Deane Papers (NYHS Colls.), 21 (1888): 100 – 101, 103 – 23, 127 – 28,
133 – 40, 214 – 35, 245 – 46.

2 Actually Congress received a note from Deane this day advising that he was
now prepared to present a written account of his mission to France,
and the delegates responded immediately by resolving to hear him
“this evening at six o’clock.” JCC, 12:1239 – 40, 1246. For Congress’
resolve ordering Deane to report “in writing, as soon as may be,”
which was adopted on 7 December, rather than the eighth as Lee
stated, see JCC, 12:1200 – 1201.