<br /> Lee Letter: n500

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Nathaniel Scudder
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir,

I yesterday received your very agreeable Favor of the 6th
instant,1 and am much gratified by your
Confidence & Approbation, for, be assured my Dear Sir, there are,
in public Life, few greater Consolations than to stand well with those,
whose unvarying Conduct, through the whole Course of such a Contest as
ours, bespeak and prove them the great and the Good. The Plaudits of
such Characters will always be Food to the generous Mind, and the
Defence and Support of them the spontaneous Effort of every patriotic
Spirit.

We have done no great Things since you left us, however as Determinations
have been made respecting some great Characters on the other Side the
Water, I will give you the best Account of them from my Memory, as I
have it not in my Power at present to apply to the Journals.

On the Questions, “Shall Mr Izard be recalled?” “Shall Mr. William Lee be
recalled?” they both passed in the affirmative by a small Majority.
Each of these Questions, as soon as determined, was succeeded by this
Proposition; Resolved that it is the Sense of Congress, that Mr. Izard,
Mr William Lee, be not required to repair to America unless convenient
&c. or words to that particular Effect; and the said Proposition
respecting them both passed also in the affirmative: so that those
Gentlemen are left entirely at their own
Option.2

I cannot omit to mention, that we had many curious & learned Debates
respecting the Meaning and Definition of the Word “recall,” and I at
one Time apprehended the Result might have produced the Necessity of a
Correction in most of our modern Dictionaries, however in Time it being
wisely judged, that, although we might determine, that by recalling a
Man we meant that he should continue where he was, and should even
proceed so far as to publish our Battalia of Yeas and Nays upon the new
Definition, yet our Constituents, who seem to have abated of their
implicite Confidence in us, might not fully accord thereto, it was
thought best to proceed in the Manner I have before related.

Next came on an excentric Attack upon Mr. Arthur Lee in Manner and Form
following; Mr. Burke, seconded by Mr. – – say
Smith,3 tho I am not quite certain, laid in
the following Proposition, vizt. “Resolved, that Mr. Silas Dean be
directed not to depart the united States without special Permission of
Congress and that Mr. Arthur Lee be ordered forthwith to repair to
America &c:” After much Debate, when the Question was about to be
put, a Division was called for, and the previous Question moved on each
Part of it. On the first Part the previous Question was lost by a
Division, and by a peculiar Turn of Providence the main Question shared
the same Fate, and after all his Enemies Maneuvres, when the previous
Question came to be put on that Part which respected Mr. Lee it
obtained almost unanimously, and to their utter Mortification he
remained in Statu quo. Whether they will venture at any future Time to
renew the Attack I know not, if they do I hope we shall place this
Business on better Ground than a base Division, as I think Rhode
Island, New

Jersey and Delaware will pretty generally hereafter stand fair – Mr. Marchant
is arrived here, I expect Mr. Houston from Jersey in a Day or two – Mr.
McKean is in Congress & Mr. Van Dyck hourly looked for.
Contra – Doctr. Witherspoon is gone on a Mission to Vermont and our
Friend Mr. Adams sets off for Boston this morning.

I ought to add respecting Burke’s Proposition, that on the main Question
for Detention of Mr Dean in America, The Yeas were New York, Virginia,
North & South Carolina, The Nays, New hampshire, Massachusetts,
Connecticut and Pennsylvania – Rhode Island, New Jersey & Maryland
divided, Delaware, Mr. Dickinson, not present – the Reason you may
conjecture.

All the Difference from the above State, if applied to the previous
Question, was that Mr Fell voted for the previous Question, and Mr
Henry against it – whereas on the main Question Mr. Fell voted ay, and
Mr. Henry Nay, which divided both the States to the utter Confusion of
&c. &c. &c. after it had been audibly declared, “all
hollow,” “all hollow.”

Thus are the crafty taken in their own Devices. and I suppose Mr. Henry
will undergo a severe Gauntlet for so sacreligiously subverting their
political Babel.

We have not as yet appointed any new Ministers, nor have we any foreign
News of Importance. I seriously apprehend some new
Folgery4 has arisen to thwart our Advices.

We have not yet been able as yet to ascertain the Evidence of Doctr. D – – 5 as to Communication of signing the Treaty
to London, he being gone on the western Expedition; and we cannot
discover who the Person is in this City to whom he attended; however I
hope in a little Time through Mr. Sergeant or Mr. McKean to obtain
satisfactory Information, when I do, I shall make the best Use of it
here, & immediately communicate it to you.

I congratulate you on your Family’s Escape from the Depredations of the
Enemy, tho I lament the Ravages they have committed in your State; I
wish Providence had suffered a less severe Jogg to have awakened you.

I also congratulate you on the glorious Successes of our Friends in South
Carolina, & I hope Georgia too, tho we are not yet freed from the
pains of Suspense by any regular Express from that Quarter – I however am
sanguine enough to hope for an entire Burgoyneage alias
Prevoage6 of the british Army in that
Department.

The Enemy are gone up the North River in Force and have possessed
themselves of, & are fortifying King’s Ferry. The Boston &
Confederacy yesterday sent up a fine prize Ship of 24 Guns, with Stores
& Provisions on Board for a long Cruise.

Want of Time & Paper conspire to prevent my adding any thing
further at this Time but that all Friends are well, and that I
am with high Esteem & great Sincerity your Friend and most
Obedient hum ble Servt.

Nath. Scudder

P.S. I hope we shall in a few Days finish out Loans on a happy Scale.

Notes:

Lee Family PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

1 Although Lee’s letter to Scudder has not been found, he wrote two other
letters on June 6, to Samuel Adams and to Henry Laurens, which
contain a number of comments on matters of recent concern to
Congress. See James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 2, 1779 – 1794, pp. 2:59 – 64.

2 See JCC, 14:700 – 705.

3 Actually Henry Laurens. JCC, 14:711 – 12. See also Henry Laurens’ Notes of
Debates, 11 June; Samuel Adams to Richard Henry Lee, 13 June; and
James Lovell to John Adams and to Arthur Lee, 13 June 1779.

4 For the case of Capt. John Folger, who had been suspected of stealing a
packet of dispatches from the American commissioners in Paris in
January 1778, see these Letters,8:560 – 65,
567 – 68, 612 – 13, 616.

5 Although the letter is clearly D in the manuscript, Scudder is likely
referring to Dr. Joseph Kendall, for whom see Richard Henry Lee to
Henry Laurens, 27 May 1779.

6 Scudder was apparently expressing his hope that Maj. Gen. Augustine
Prevost, commander of the British forces in the south, would meet a
fate similar to that of Gen. John Burgoyne at Saratoga.