<br /> Lee Letter: n773

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

Dear Sir:

We are placed now, I think, pretty nearly in the same political relation
under which our former correspondence was conducted; if it shall prove
as agreeable to you to revive it, as you were then pleased to say it
was to continue it, I shall be happy in contributing my part. The
intelligence from hence cannot now be so interesting as formerly,
because important events can be expected to occur but seldom in these
times. It is, however, not unpleasant to know how things are going, and
likely to go, in the world; that part of it at least in which we are in
any manner interested. The courts of Spain and London do not seem to be
upon such cordial principles with the United States as we might wish,
the former seeming to be intent upon possessing, with a strong hand,
the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi, and the latter has
actually encroached already upon our peace boundary on the river St.
Croix, and they detain the western posts; assigning, for reason, that
we have violated the peace by not repealing the laws that impede the
recovery of British debts; the court of London seems also willing to
injure its own possessions in the West Indies, rather than not wound
our commerce with British Isles. Much of this mischief arises from the
want of a proper understanding of each other, and from the active
industry and acrimonious misinformation that the exiled tories and
refugees are constantly inculcating and asserting, without much danger
of contradiction in having the truth fairly displayed. A well informed
gentleman, in our ministry abroad, therefore, lately wrote us, that we
could much better have dealt with these people among ourselves, than we
can counteract the evils now resulting from their conduct
abroad.1 This temper of the two courts will,
however, produce the necessity of sending to each a well informed
minister to negotiate commencing difficulties, and thereby prevent the
evils of renewed war. It seems yet to be a matter of much doubt,
whether the imperial determination to open the long closed navigation
of the Scheldt, and restoring Antwerp to its former splendour as a
commercial city, will not light up a general war upon the continent of
Europe. I hope that our dispute with Great Britain may be previously
settled. Our commissioners have concluded a peace with the six nations,
and are now on their way to Cayahoga, on Lake Erie, to meet the western
nations and to make a treaty with them also. I present you the
compliments of the approaching season and assure you that, I am with
great regard and esteem, Dear Sir,

Your Most obedient and very humble

Richard Henry Lee.


MS not found; reprinted from Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:247 – 48.

1 In a letter to Congress of April 24 Henry Laurens had observed that “If all
the people called Loyalists were scattered in America they would not
do so much mischief as they do here. We could manage them best at
home.” See PCC, item 89, fol. 352; and Wharton, Diplomatic
Correspondence, 6:797.