<br /> Lee Letter: n762

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Arthur Lee
Recipient: John Adams

Dear Sir,

I cannot let this opportunity, though, from Mr. Jefferson’s hurry, a
transitory one, pass; without writing you a line. The arrangement of
our foreign affairs which makes Mr Jay Secretary here, & joins Mr.
Jefferson with you, must I think be pleasing to you, as they both have
a friendship for you & are men of ability. It was my wish that the
negociations might be carried on at the Hague or in London. But it is
tender ground to tread on, & Paris I suppose, though for many
reasons the most improper, will be the place.

From the Accounts we have here, I judge that Pitt & his friends will
maintain their places against Fox & North; & I suppose you will
find them most disposd to treat upon large, wise, & liberal
principles. I therefore wish they may continue in place.

Our Treasury is as low & the prospect of raising it by taxes, as
unpromising as possible. Either the present Superintendant must
continue in with powers calculated solely to convert every thing to the
emolument of himself & his Creatures; or if a reform is made, he
& his immoral Assistant1 have malignity
enough to endeavor to ruin where they can no longer plunder. However
there is now a plan before Congress for reforming the department, by
putting it into Commission & prohibiting the Commissioners from
being engaged in trade or commerce; which I hope will take place. The
only adequate fund I can conceive for the payment of our debts, are our
western Lands; the cession of which being at length adjusted, if we can
secure a large purchase from the Indian Nations, with whom a treaty is
soon to be held for that purpose, we may sink so much of our domestic
debt, by selling lands for Certificates as will render the remainder
very light. It is the importance of this object that has induced me to
think of accepting a place among the Commissioners. The negociation
will not be so illustrious, (but not less substantially benificial) as
those of Europe. Congress is at present well disposd, & their
deliberations have been much less under the controul of M. Marbois
& the Financier since they left Philadelphia. Much industry will
therefore be usd to make them return thither, But I think without
success. The adjournment which is fixt for the 3d of next month, will
end my congressional character, not being eligible another year under
the confederation. The next year I mean to devote to a tour in the
western Country, down the Ohio & Missisippi to New Orleans &
from thence to Georgia & the Carolinas. After that I shall sit
myself down in some retird place, the world forgetting, by the world
forgot.

I wish you every success in your negociations, & a happy return, to
where no one will be more welcome, your own Country.

Farewell

A. Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

1 That is, Robert and Gouverneur Morris.