<br /> Lee Letter: n464

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Francis Lightfoot Lee
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Brot.

The uncertainty of the Post last week prevented me from writing, & now
from the uncertainty of this Letters reaching you before you leave
home, I am at a loss what to say.

Common Sense has attacked Mr Deane something in his own way, but I think
has not made the best use of the materials in his
hands.1 However it appears he has stung the
Gentn., for he has had the impudence to complain to Congress, of his
being abused by Payne in his official
character;2 in consequence of which we have
had some warm debates, not much to Mr. Deane’s advantage. The impudence
& villainy of this man are beyond expression; & it much
increases my bad opinion of mankind, & the unfavorable prospect of
our affairs, to find him so warmly supported. It appears to me at
present that he will be continued in the public service, with an
approbation of what he had done, but you will probably have time to be
present at the shamefull decision. Your peice is in the hands of Mr.
Adams for his opinion;3 tho I am inclined to
delay it till you come, as the public is likely to be intertained in
the mean time. Finance is finished. 15 millions dollars raised by tax,
this year, 6 millions yearly for 16 years as a sinking fund. The two
last large emissions, amounting to 40 odd Millions, which are supposed
most counterfeited, are called in by the 1st June, & more money
given in Exchange. I fear the plan will not sufficiently check the
rapid depreciation which has lately taken place. The money has allmost
ceased to be current in the Eastern States. Altho we have regularly the
report of the day, yet there is very little of consequence to be
depended on, tho I beleive it is certain the Enemys Shiping at N. York
has suffered much by the late bad weather. It is said today, that there
is a fleet of Merchantmen in the mouth of this River convoyed by a
French line of battle Ship, & a Dutch M[an ofl War.

I have Letters for you from Doctr. Lee late in
Septr.4 They are Cypher, & will wait for
you here, nothing new in Europe when these dispatches came away. If you
have an opportunity to Mt. Airy before you leave home, shall be obliged
if you will get from Mrs. Garrett, a sealed Packet I left in her care,
and bring it up with you. It contains my loan office Certificates,
Lottery Tickets, & some money.

Love to Chantilly & Stratford, Yours Affectly,

Francis Lightfoot Lee

[P.S.] The report of the fleet in the River, not true.


Fogg CollectionMaine Historical Society

1 Thomas Paine’s second substantial attack on Silas Deane was a long letter
to the public that was serialized in the 31 December 1778, and
2, 5, 7, and 9 January 1779 issues of the Pennsylvania Packet. See
Deane Papers (NYHS Colls.), 21 (1888): 209 – 39.

2 Deane had registered this complaint in letters to Congress of 30 December
and 4 January. Deane protested that Paine, “styling himself Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, and pretending to address the public in his
official capacity, … ventured to assure the public that the
supplies which I contracted for with Mons. Beaumarchais were promised
and engaged, and that as a present, before I arrived in France.” See
ibid., pp. 137, 224, 244 – 45; PCC, item 103, fols. 16547; and JCC,
13:25 – 26. Before Congress resumed consideration of Deane’s complaint,
a more serious protest against Paine was lodged this day by the
French minister, Conrad Alexandre Gérard, which dominated the
congressional debate on foreign policy the next several days. See
John Fell’s Diary, 6 January 1779, note 2.

3 The Lees often shared their correspondence on public issues with Samuel
Adams, but no convincing evidence has been found to determine the
identity of the “piece” recently given to Adams “for his opinion.”
Burnett’s suggestion that it may have been the document signed
“Economist” and printed under the date 22 January 1779, in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 – 1778, 2:11 – 26, is a reasonable one. But his alternate
conjecture, that this “piece” is an undated manuscript located at the end of
the 1779 volume of Samuel Adams Papers at NN, refers to a document
that was actually drafted by Francis Lightfoot and probably after
Richard Henry returned to Philadelphia. See Burnett, Letters, 4:10n;
and Francis Lightfoot Lee to Arthur Lee, 22 April 1779, note 4.

4 An extract of a letter from Arthur Lee dated 30 September 1778, in the
hand of Richard Henry Lee, is in the Lee Family Papers, University of Virginia Archives. His
12 September letter to Richard Henry is in Richard H. Lee, Life of
Arthur Lee,
2 vols. (Boston: Wells and Lilly, 1829), 2:148.