<br /> Lee Letter: n481

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Page

Dear Sir,

I am honored with your favor of the 19th and thank you for
it.1 I always thought too well of your wisdom
and justice to suppose you could be influenced by the most groundless,
illdesigning, and improbable calumnies that were ever devised by wicked
minds.2 From the most intimate confidential
correspondence, and from the best information, I have abundant reason
to be satisfied that both my brothers in Europe are as firmly attached
to the independance and happiness of America as any Men that breathe
the vital air. I should detest them if I thought otherways, or had any
reason to think of them than as I have above expressed. A strict
adherence to duty, active services for their Country, and opposition to
public peculation has drawn this calumny on them.

Mr. Ford being such a man as you describe,3 and
having with him authentic documents to prove that he had been confided
in by one of these States might well impose upon Dr. Lee who was an
utter stranger to any misconduct that he had been guilty of here. I
will answer for it, that he wont remain an hour in his employment after
the Doctor knows his character. I shall be greatly concerned indeed if
we have been so unfortunate as to have lost the military Stores that
you expected.4 But since Dr. Lee does not
mention any thing in his letters to me about having shipped them, and
not having seen any mention of such capture in the N. York papers, I
yet hope they may be safe. ’Tis true the number of privateers that
avarice and enmity have equipped from N. York & Bermuda to cruise
on our trade is very great indeed. I think by their list they amount to
more than eighty. Some Frigates are ordered to clear our Coast of these
Rovers, and I hope they will be successful. But this destination of our
Frigates ought not to be made public. I wish with all my heart we had
any important intelligence to communicate to you. I know of none,
unless what I have before written, that we have very good reason to
know that our enemies have no prospect of aid of any kind from any
European power to assist them in their war against us. Holland seems
much disposed to us, at least Amsterdam is securely with us, and that
is a powerful part of their Union. The King of the two Sicilies has
opened his ports to us,5 and the English
themselves publish that Spain has notified to the Court of London that
she will join France if the former does not acknowledge the
Independence of America & make peace. But such is the destructive
obstinacy and wickedness of our enemies, that they appear determined to
try another Campaign, and therefore our efforts should be exerted to
reenforce our Army with all possible dispatch. The malice of our foes
must recoil upon their own heads, if we are but wise and take the
necessary precautions.

I am dear Sir yours with much affection and sincerity,

Richard Henry Lee.


Receiver’s copy, owned by John F. Reed (1971), King of Prussia, Pa.
Addressed: “Honorable John Page esquire at Williamsburg in Virginia.”

1 Page’s 19 March letter to Lee is in the Lee Papers, University of Virginia Archive.

2 In commenting on the Deane-Lee affair, Page had reported that he and most
of the people he knew found the charges against Arthur Lee to be
groundless, although there were still “some Suspicions of Dr. Lee’s
being too much attached to his English Friends.”

3 Page had repeated the charges leveled by Gov. Patrick Henry against
Hezekiah Ford, Arthur Lee’s secretary, in Henry’s letter of 9 January to the Virginia delegates in Congress. An extract of this letter is
in the Lee Papers, University of Virginia Archives. See Committee for Foreign
Affairs to Arthur Lee, 26 January 1779, note 1.

4 Page had also charged that that “very great Rascal” Ford was responsible
for “our losing the valuable Cargoe of Military Stores which we have
payed for in France & I believe were shipped in Sepr.” Yet, Page
was “perfectly satisfied that the Doctr. has not the least Suspicion
of his Villainy.”

5 See Richard Henry Lee to Patrick Henry, 28 February 1779, note 2.