<br /> Lee Letter: n781

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: the States

Sir

I have the honor to enclose to your Excellency some late communications
from the Ministers plenipotentiary of these United States at Paris,
together with an Act of Congress on that
subject.1 Much inconvenience to the American
Ministers abroad, being apprehended from improper publications of their
letters, hath induced Congress to desire that these informations may be
kept from the public eye. The precarious state of our public credit
abroad is so powerfully expressed in these letters, as to render a
comment unnecessary. They prove incontestably, the necessity of
immediate, vigorous measures for supplying the Treasury of the United
States, that justice may be punctually done to those excellent friends
who assisted us in the day of our distress. Your enlightned Legislature
Sir will see the close connection that subsists between National safety
and National faith – that the loss of the latter will ever have the most
malignant effects upon the former.

The Congress request that your Excellency will lay these communications
before the General Assembly of your State, with the Act of Congress
respecting them.

I have the honor to be with sentiments of the truest esteem & regard, Sir your Excellencies most obedient and very humble servant

R. H. Lee, P.

Notes:

File copy, Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union. In the hand of
Richard Henry Lee. Endorsed: “Copy of circular Letter, New York Jany
21st 1785. recorded.”

1 The enclosed January 20 “Act” directed the distribution to the states of
two recently received foreign dispatches concerning the payment of
interest on the foreign debt of the United States. These “late
communications” consisted of a November 3 letter from John Adams
summarizing the United States’ interest obligations and the
precariousness of the nation’s public credit in Europe, and a
November 11 letter from Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas
Jefferson reporting the “uneasiness” of the French court at the
prospect of a default of interest payments on Dutch loans to the
United States originally guaranteed by France. See JCC, 28:11n, 12;
PCC, item 84, 5:351 – 54, item 86, fols. 49 – 57; and Diplomatic
Correspondence, 1783 – 89, 1:467 – 68, 537 – 38.