<br /> Lee Letter: n588

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Samuel Adams
Recipient: Richard Henry Lee

My dear Sir

I cannot begin this Letter but by intreating you to impute my past omission
to any Cause you please excepting a Forgetfulness or willful Neglect.
The making of Apologys is among Friends so formal a Business that I
hardly know how to set myself about it. I am sure you will not be
prevaild upon to suspect the Cordiality of my Affection for you – that I
assure you would be punishing me more than I am conscious I deserve. I
will frankly own to you that I am astonished at the Reflection of four
Months having elapsd since I last came to this City, without my having
written to you one Letter, not even to acknowledge the favor I have
receivd from you.1 But will you my friend
bury what may seem to you a Fault in oblivion upon my Promise to amend
for the future.

I have more to say to you than my Leizure will at present allow – And indeed
The Situation of your Country, I fear is likely to be such as to render
the Conveyance of Letters precarious and a free Communication of
Sentiments unsafe. Should they fall into the Enemies hands we know not
what Use they will make of them – to be sure an ill Use & very
probably injurious to our great Coun<try>. I hope the People of
Virginia are able to prevent the Troops that may have arrivd from
taking a Post there. It will give our Enemies occasion to boast of
their having subdued that populous State, in order to give an
unfavorable Aspect to our Affairs, in Europe. This, with other
important Considerations, should induce you to make every possible
Exertion to defeat their Design. I have always thought that the
Intelligence containd in a Letter of Colo Campbell intercepted last
Spring was genuine.2 If so, the making a
Lodgment at Portsmouth is a material Part of their Plan.

Upon conversing with your Brother Mr Arthur Lee, I am confirmd in my own
opinion that his Character is very different from that which his
Enemies gave him two years ago. You know I have long corresponded with
him, and a Mans confidential Letters are so sure a Criterion by which
to judge of his real Disposition, that I before thought I could not be
mistaken. He has shared the Fate of honest Patriots in all Times of
Corruption in being persecuted. But I am satisfied the People in the
Eastern States entertain an high opinion of his Integrity &
Abilities. I hope he will meet with Justice in Congress – I think he
merits Applause.

Please to pay my Respects to Mrs Lee – your Brother Colo Frank & others
to whom they are due. I will write as often as I can,

Adieu & be
assured that I am affectionately, your friend.

Notes:

File copy, Adams Papers, New York Public Library. In the hand of Samuel
Adams.

1 That is, Lee’s letter to Adams of September 10, 1780, which is in the Adams
Papers, NN; and Lee, Papers (Ballagh), 2:200 – 203.

2 Perhaps Adams had in mind the intercepted letter from “a Campbel in Britain
to his Son a Lieutent. & Adjutant in a British Regiment here”
that had circulated among the delegates in April, for which see John
Morin Scott to William Floyd and Ezra L’Hommedieu, April 17, and to
George Clinton, April 19, 1780.