<br /> Lee Letter: n496

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Henry Laurens

My dear sir,

On my way here I met with Mr. Serjeant,1 of whom
I enquired touching the proof he had mentioned of Deanes having
communicated the intended Treaty to Wharton2 in London some days before its conclusion.
The Witness is, it seems, Surgeon to Proctors Regiment, now on its way
to Pittsburg. This Man was the Bearer of the letters to Wharton, and
his evidence is I think very conclusive. I assure you Sir I am in this
case not influenced in the least by motives of personal resentment, the
thorough conviction I have of the public good that will result from
fixing on Mr. Deane the guilt that I am satisfied he has practised,
influences me solely. It is impossible that justice can be done, either
to the community, or to Individuals, unless this man be properly
understood. And certainly nothing more is necessary to accomplish this
than to proceed with serious determination to the enquiry and collect
the evidence written and oral that this country abundantly furnishes.
The establishment of his criminality will at once prevent him from
imposing on the public to its future injury, and do justice to the
characters he has traduced by charging them with crimes committed by
himself. This evidence may easily be had from
Pittsburg.3 Sr. James Jay & Capt.
Nicholson are in Philadelphia. Mr.

Diggs will attend when called on. These, with the papers you have, shew
enormity sufficient to place Mr. Deane in the light he ought to be seen
in. I should not have troubled you Sir with so long a letter on so foul
a subject, if I were not perfectly satisfied of your attachment to the
cause of justice and general good, your dislike of public defaulters
and your desire to protect and defend the virtuous Servants of the
United States. I understand by Mr. Sergeant that Mr. Secretary Thomson
has been long acquainted with Dr. Kendals
evidence,4 and having concealed it, and acted
the part he has done renders him as unfit to be the Secretary of
Congress as any other W-h-e5 in Philadelphia.
I shall continue to entertain the very agreeable hopes of being honored
with your company in your way Southward. Your route is thro Baltimore,
cross Potomac at Hoes, and from Mr. Hoe you will get exact directions
to my house.

I am, with most affectionate esteem dear Sir your most obedient and
obliged servant,

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. My friend Colo. Scudder will exert himself in getting this evidence to
prove the perfidy of our self applauding, discarded, wishing to be


Receiver’s copy, William Gilmore Simms Collection deposit (1973),
Massachusetts Historical Society.

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 58 – 59. A transcript is in the Laurens, Correspondence, Long Island Historical Society. Addressed: “Honorable Henry Laurens
Esqr. in Chesnut Street near the State House, Philadelphia.” Endorsed
by Laurens: “Richd. Henry Lee Esqr. 27th May 1779. Recd. 29th. Answd
1st June.”

1 Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, who had been a member of Congress from New
Jersey in 1776 – 77.

2 Probably Samuel Wharton, Pennsylvania merchant and land speculator, who had
gone to England in 1769 to seek validation of the “Indiana grants,”
but who remained to press the claims of the Walpole Company for a new
colony, to be called “Vandalia.” In 1779 he went to Paris to discuss
with Benjamin Franklin the possibility of obtaining congressional
recognition of the claim. After returning to the United States,
Wharton served as a delegate to Congress in 1782 – 83. DAB.

3 For further information on this “evidence,” see Lee’s 3 January 1778
[i.e., 1779], letter to Francis Lightfoot Lee in Lee, Letters
(Ballagh), 1:373 – 76; and Richard Henry’s August 1779 letters to the
editor of the Pennsylvania Packet, ibid., 2:108 – 12, 125 – 30, 132 – 42.
See also Arthur Lee’s April 26, 1779, letter to Congress, PCC, item
102, 3:20 – 21, and Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, 3:136 – 37.

4 Probably Dr. Joseph Kendall, a surgeon of the Pennsylvania Regiment of
Artillery and later a physician and surgeon aboard the ship America.
See Joseph Kendall to Congress, 12 May 1784, PCC, item 41, 5:41 – 42,
and JCC, 27:407.

5 Despite the confusion of how Lee placed his dashes, he was doubtless
suggesting that Charles Thomson was no more to be trusted than a
common whore.

6 This is Lee’s last letter as a delegate until he returned to Congress in
November 1784. Embittered by the direction the Deane-Lee controversy
had taken, the personal attacks upon his reputation, and the strength
of opponents in Congress, Lee had resigned his seat as a delegate and
was en route to Virginia. Lee’s hatred of Deane and his congressional
supporters and his concern over congressional affairs, however, did
not abate in the months thereafter. From Chantilly he maintained a
heavy correspondence with colleagues in Congress notably Henry
Laurens, Samuel Adams, William Whipple, James Searle, James Lovell,
and Nathaniel Scudder and contributed four articles to the
Pennsylania Packet under the name “Rowland” in which he assailed the
Deane faction and defended himself and his brothers. For these
letters and articles, see Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 2:59 – 167. For his
resignation at this time and an analysis of his congressional career,
see Lee to the Virginia Assembly, 4 May 1779; and Paul C. Bowers,
“Richard Henry Lee and the Continental Congress, 1774 – 1779,” (Ph.D.
diss., Duke University, 1965).