<br /> Lee Letter: n527

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Henry Laurens
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My Dear sir.

Since my last Letter to you under the 28th September I have not been
honored with any of your favors, nor from a former intimation, could I
have expected to hear from you.1

We remain without any addition to the first advises of Count d’Estaing’s
arrival near Georgia, this circumstance detains me in Philadelphia,
which I cannot conveniently depart from, until I shall have seen &
conversed with the Young Gentleman lately appointed Secretary to the
Embassy at Versailles, 2 I mean to give him
a faithful unbiasing account of Foreign &
domestically-transacted-foreign affairs & leave him to judge &
determine if he reads my heart he will return thanks & decline
acceptance.

You will receive with this a Copy of the Journal containing the Yeas &
Nays formerly spoken of, the different principles alluded to by a Note
in the Margin were – J thought 10 or 15 by far too little. L was of
opinion that anything would be too much.3
The Report for which a certain Monday was “set apart” remains
unconsidered & probably will remain so to the day of Judgement.
Yesterday I received Packets & Letters ten in number directed to
yourself & Colo. F. L. Lee from France which I have delivered to
Mr. Lovel who has shewn me Copies of two which will be read this
Morning in Congress, I shall move to have them printed, if refused,
& I can obtain Copies, they shall be printed – Mr. Lovel will enlarge
on these points. 4 The P.S. to my Letter
above recited informs you that I had paused upon the propriety of
transmitting a Paper which had been inclosed,
5 upon mature reflection & considering
circumstances which have since happened I see nothing improper in it,
therefore I shall inclose it with this in its original state, probably
it may at this distance of time convey no information. The Salaries to
Ministers Plenipo: £2500 Sterling per Annum, to their Secretaries
£1000 – in full of all expences &c. passages excepted. I moved for
£2000 & £700 & was uniformly no! against everything
higher & my motives & reasonings I trust will meet the
approbation of my thinking fellow Citizens – we have made the
appointments where are the funds? Mr. Carmichael had no competitor, but
I refused my Vote;6 upon proper reflection I
am persuaded he himself will applaud my candor & I will take the
liberty of adding, my judgement.

He who had repeatedly acknowledged that he had called an American Minister
in Office a Rascal & did not deny that he had called him Villain
too & said he would display his Villainy to Congress, must have
been either right or wrong. I need not deduce the logical conclusion, I
think I have acted as if I understood it.

The two Legs are made Ult. but yesterday there was a proposition for
reconsidering & expunging the Southernmost, I opposed it, after an
hours debate, adjourned-we shall hear more of it
today.7 I told the advocate for expunction,
I had long since heard every word he had offered in support of his
motion – out of doors.

The Confederacy is still at Chester her Passengers will embark in the
course of this Week.

God bless you my Dear Sir, have patience & all things will work
together in support of honesty & truth.

I am with sincere Esteem & regard, Your obedient & most humble
Servt,

Henry Laurens.

[P.S.] I have heard some people impudently talk of meanness in a – – but I
have not in my life seen more marks of sordid meanness than has been
for some Days past displayed by a
monosyllable.8

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Lee Papers, American Philosophical Society.

1 The “former intimation” has not been identified, but the circumstance
alluded to probably involves Lee’s experience with post riders, which
he also discussed in an October 15 letter to Laurens. Lee, Letters
(Ballagh), 2:159.

2 Laurens is referring to his son John.

3 The subject is the congressional debate of August 26 concerning
compensation for Silas Deane’s expenses. John Jay and James Lovell
are undoubtedly the delegates referred to here.

4 See James Lovell to Richard Henry Lee, October 13, 1779.

5 The enclosed “Paper” has not been found, and the incident to which it
pertained has not been identified. Laurens had prepared this
enclosure for his “last letter” to Richard Henry, but before
transmitting it he had a mysterious meeting with the person involved
in the episode and decided at the last moment not to send it, because
to do so, he explained, would be “inconsistent with my honor.” See
Laurens to Richard Henry Lee, September 28, 1779, note 6.

6 Laurens had refused to support William Carmichael’s election as secretary
to the minister to Spain because of Carmichael’s refusal in September
1778 to testify against Silas Deane although he had previously
intimated that Deane had misappropriated public funds. See these
Letters,10:653n.3, 661, 707 – 9, 717 – 20, 11:114,
309 – 10.

7 The “two Legs” made ultimata were the fisheries and navigation of the
Mississippi River. For the maneuvers involved in attempting to
expunge “the southernmost,” see Gouverneur Morris’ Draft Motion,
c.13 October 1779.

8 Laurens may be referring here to John Jay.