<br /> Lee Letter: n511

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Henry Laurens
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

Dear Sir.

My last trouble is dated the 3d Inst per post;1
yesterday I was favored with yours of the
1st2 accompanied by Copies of three Letters
which I fear will be of very little use or service hereafter.

Congress as you will read in Dunlap’s Paper of this date have “discharged
Mr. Deane from any further attendance”3 this
Resolution was effected at a time when I was unavoidably absent seeking
for new apartments, being obliged to leave these I am in, the day after
to morrow; I had previously, but without effect, objected to paying Mr.
Deane any Money until he should have accounted for the Sums which he
had received in Paris, & pointed particularly at those Sums which
he had received of Mr. de Beaumarchais & of Mr. Grand after he knew
of his being superceded in Office & of the appointment of a
Commissioner to succeed him, of which Mr. A Lee takes particular notice
in his vindication – the amount of the former you are informed of, that
of the latter is upward of £1700 Sterling including all his
draughts on the Banker, I say without effect for no support was given
to my motion, or so slender a one as not to bring on a question – I think
nevertheless, I did my duty & that hereafter I shall be applauded.

Congress had determined that the Commissioners & other Agents should
respectively adjust their accounts with a person to be appointed for
that purpose in France, a measure which I was averse from, yet all
things considered, it admitted much good reason in favor of
it.4 After this determination I was called
out on the business abovementioned – at my return, I found the Resolve
for “discharging Mr. Deane from further attendance on Congress,” this,
inasmuch as no provision is made for his Voyage to France nor for his
expences there, leaves the adjustment of his accounts optional with
him. You will see the Resolves in a few days extended in the printed
Journals or perhaps in MS. by the next Post, at present I am in all
that embarrassment which attends moving from one House to another &
being called off by Committees &c. I began this Note at 6 this
Morning ’tis now past eleven, I must fly to Congress where somewhat
very Interesting is to be brought on the tapis, permit me therefore to
take leave with repeated assurances of being with very great Esteem
& Respect Dear sir, Your obliged & obedt. servt,

Henry Laurens


Receiver’s copy, Chamberlain Collection, Boston Public Library.

1 Not found.

2 Lee’s August 1 letter is in the William Gilmore Simms Collection of Laurens
Papers, no. 31, MHi microfilm; and Lee, Letters (Ballagh), 2:98 – 100.
In it Lee acknowledged receipt of two letters from Laurens dated July
16 and 20, which also have not been found.

3 See John Fell’s Diary, August 6, 1779, note 3.

4 On August 6 Congress had ordered that the “several commissioners,
commercial agents and others in Europe entrusted with public money”
submit their accounts and vouchers to the Board of Treasury and that
a “suitable person be appointed by Congress to examine the said
accounts in Europe, and certify his opinion thereon previous to their
beig transmitted.” JCC, 14:928 – 39. For the election of Joshua Johnson
to this position, see John Fell’s Diary, September 29, 1779.

The prospect that Johnson might receive this appointment was immediately
anticipated by Lee, and in his August 21 response to this letter from
Laurens he voiced his opposition to Johnson. “The appointment of a
person to settle the accounts in france may be a wise or a wicked
measure as happens to be the person appointed for the purpose,” Lee
explained. “Send a man from here vested with proper power, and let
him be skilful in business, firm, and of unimpeachable integrity – in
no manner whatever concerned with any of the parties having accounts
to settle. . . . Observe if attempts are not made to have a Mr.
Johnson Merchant in Nantes to settle these accounts. The very
circumstance of his having been already proposed by Deane for their
purpose is an argument why he ought not.” Lee, Letters (Ballagh),
2:131 – 32.