<br /> Lee Letter: n711

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Arthur Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams

Dear friend,

As I was in Virginia when Mr. Lowell arrivd here, it was some time before I
receivd your favor by him. It gives me a good deal of concern that we
are so soon to lose that Gentleman, his integrity & abilities
rendering him an ornament to Congress.

Every thing from England seems to announce a real disposition to peace. But
it is very surprising that by six or seven opportunities from France,
we have not receivd a line from our Minister. Not even by Major Franks,
who came as a special Messenger. And what is yet more astonishing, we
have not a word from Mr. Adams relative to the late important
proceedings in Holland. I am apprehensive, his Dispatches were sent,
thro France; & were stopt there. This profound silence on subjects
so very interesting together with the perilous & humiliating
situation we are in touching the negociation for Peace, I own alarm me.
I am very much inclind to think that France will be for protracting the
war, or for turning the cheif advantages of it to herself & to
Spain. Mr. Jay’ s last Letter suggest strong suspicions of that Court,
& we have put ourselves shamefully & entirely in her power as
to the conditions of Peace.

Spain appears to have been acting a part as silly as it is selfish; &
to be covering the weakness of her Councils, by the insincerity of her
conduct. Some spirited measures will be taken respecting that Court;
merely because bravado in one instance, is some consolation for
servility in another. For our interests seem out of the question in
that quarter, She being no ways desirous of treating with us.

I am of a Committee appointed to inspect the department of Mr.
Morris.1 Mr. Duane is the Chairman. Such a
choice seemd to point out that Congress did not mean the inspection
shoud be productive of public good. Nor have I any reason to think it
will. All the Monies of the U. S. ought to go into the Treasury, &
be issued from thence, the Treasurer being a chosen & sworn Officer
& giving security for his fidelity. Mr. Morris has began to deviate
from this line by putting half the monies of the Public into the hands
of his qoundam Clerk,2 where he may not only
have a more certain use of them for his private purposes, but be coverd
in every thing he does. Shoud this maneuvre pass muster, the whole will
soon go into the same channel, & the Institution & checks of a
Treasury be rendered entirely useless. I am apprehensive that it will
not only pass uncorrected, but receive the collateral approbation of an
allowance to this Swanwick for his services. The accumulation of
Offices in this man, the number of valuable appointments in his gift,
the absolute controul given him over all the Revenue officers, his
money, & his art; render him a most dangerous man to the Liberty of
this Country, as his excessive avarice does to the treasure of the
public so much in his power. Our funds in France are in hands equally
rapacious & less responsible. This ravenous spirit prompted Dr. F.
to do what amounts to an absolute robbery. It is this. Col. Laurens had
obtaind a million & a half of Livres from the french Court, to
bring over hither for the support of our credit. It was deposited in
Specie at Amsterdam & by the order of Col. Laurens to be brought by
Major Jackson in the S. Carolina. When Col. L. had saild, Dr. F. by
threats & orders prevails on Major Jackson to give up the money,
& has it remitted to him at a loss to the U.S. of 19500 livres,
besides the disappointment & embarrassment of our Finances here.
This transaction will I have no doubt pass also unpunishd &
uncensurd.

Your friends in Virginia were well when I left them, & remember you
with affection. My respects to Mrs. Adams & rememberances to Genl.
Ward & all our friends,

Farewell.

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Adams Papers, New York Public Library. In the hand of
Arthur Lee, though not signed.

1 See Committee on the Department of Finance to Robert Morris, July 19, 1782,
note 1.

2 That is, John Swanwick, cashier of the department of finance.