<br /> Lee Letter: n490

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Francis Lightfoot Lee

My dear brother

I sincerely condole with you for the loss of our amiable and worthy friend
Colo. Tayloe, but he is happy, far happier than those he has left upon
this turbulent wicked stage. The inclosed paper will shew you the
fortunate success of our little fleet from Boston. The Marine enemies
stare and are ashamed of their purblind policy which has so often
condemned exertions in this way. We go slowly on in foreign affairs. It
has however been resolved not to recall Dr. Franklin, and so far the
party have failed, because the plan was to recall them all to make
room.1 This day I have heared all the
artillery discharged with great vehemence against Dr Lee, and
prodigious aid is derived from the whispers of G – d.2 A doctrine quite new in the history of
politics is broached now, which is, that it becomes the dignity, and
consists with the interests of Sovereign powers to consult foreign
Courts, and less then that, foreign Ministers, who the first shall send
to represent them abroad – And this altho such resident Minister shall
clearly and unequivocally engage in faction, and party doings, to
support a Man whose conduct is insupportable. What will such things
lead to in the end? I see nothing but disgrace, contempt, and ruin.
Perhaps the Man3 whose understanding, zeal,
and spirit, prevented the 12th article from being closed upon this
Country may have been on that account not quite so agreeable, but
surely we have no cause to complain of him – And to this may be added
that an host of plunderers have been disconcerted in the Mercantile
way, which has raised a prodigious cry. But this Great
evidence4 has given it from under his hand
that the Court of France did not adopt the sentiments of those who
represented Dr. Lee as antigallican or favoring England and being
averse to the Alliance. Mr. Laurence said in Congress, the whole
convinced him that Dr. Lee was an honest, faithful, able & diligent
Servant of the United States. How these affairs will end I know not but
this I do know, that I am quite tired of the wickedness and folly of
such part of the world as I have lately had an opportunity of
considering, and wish for a few days to pass over when I may retire.
Things are not worse to the Southward, but they are not very pleasing.
I think our State has not exerted itself properly for the relief of its
oppressed and endangered Sisters.5 The enemy
have lately sent 9 more regiments from N. York, but whether for Georgia
or the W. Indies is uncertain. They are weak now in this quarter.

My love to Mrs. Lee, and remember me to Dr. Jones and Mr. Gibberne. I would
not change an hour of the sensible conversations of the former and the
facitiousness of the latter for an age of Congress wisdom.

I should have written by this post to our freind Mr Page of Mannsfield, but
I suppose he is with you. Salute him for me.

Adieu,

Richard Henry Lee

[P.S.] Give my love to Mr. Parker and tell him that I am so oppressed with
business that it is impossible for me to write to him now – thank him
for his favor of the 13th.

  • 1800 barrels of Flour}
  • 2200 do. of Beef & Pork} Cargoes of the £120,000 Sterlings
    worth of Beef & Pork} 7 prizes

Notes:

Lee PapersHoughton Library

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 49 – 51.

1 For the origins of the “recall” debate, see John Fell’s Diary entry for
6 April, note 2.

2 Conrad Alexandre Gerard. In his 18 April letter to William Snippen, Jr.,
Lee had referred to the French minister as a “little great whispering
Politician.”

3 That is, Arthur Lee. For his opposition to the twelfth article of the
commercial treaty with France, see Lee to Benjamin Franklin and Silas
Deane, 30 January 1778, as well as their reply and their letters to
Gerard and comte de Vergennes, 1 February 1778, in Wharton,
Diplomatic Correspondence, 2:481 – 83. See also Ralph Izard to Henry
Laurens, 16 February 1778, ibid., pp. 497 – 99; and these
Letters,11:132 – 33.

4 That is, Gerard. Lee is apparently alluding to the French minister’s 21 April
statement to Samuel Adams, for which see Henry Laurens’ Notes
Respecting Gerard’s Views of that date.

5 See Committee of Congress to George Washington, 28 April 1779.