<br /> Lee Letter: n795

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

Dear Sir.

I should before this have thanked you for your favour of March
15th,1 if I had not been in daily
expectation that the arrival of the packets would bring us some
intelligence from Europe worth communicating to you; the February
packet has but just come in after a passage of eight weeks, and neither
she or other vessels in short passages, bring us any thing interesting.
War or peace in Europe, hangs yet in doubtful balance; both parties
arming with assiduity, and nothing determined upon. Mr. John Adams, is
sent plenipotentiary to the court of London, and Mr. Jefferson is the
minister at Versailles, Dr. Franklin having leave, at his own request,
to retire. Returning appearances of good humour, and a proposition
first made by the British court, to treat of our differences in London,
has induced hopes of an amicable adjustment of disputes. Mr. Gardoque
is not arrived, but expected about the last of this month from the
Havana, to which place he went from Spain previous to his coming here.
If the commenced bickering between Madrid and London on the Musquito
shore should go on, we may probably have easier work with both courts
in our business with them. I have the honour to enclose you the report
of a respectable committee on the subject of selling the western lands,
which has not yet been acted upon, though it speedily
will.2 What changes may be made in this plan
before it finally passes, cannot yet be told, but probably there will
be some. Your idea of settling a state at a time, would most certainly
be the wisest and the best, if the excessive rage for taking lands
there could be possibly restrained. But really it seems that either
Congress must sell quickly, or possession will be so taken as to render
doubtful this fine fund for extinguishing the public debt. It has been
impossible to get a vote for more than seven hundred men to garrison
all the posts to be fixed in the trans-Alleghanian country, from north
to south; a number very inadequate, I fear, to the purpose of even
suppressing illegal trespasses upon the western lands. Our friend the
Marquis La Fayette, arrived after a short passage, but I believe it was
a very boisterous one. Your letter for Mr. Lee I sent after him to
Virginia,3 whither he was returning before I
received it. My best respects attend your lady.

I have the honour to be, with the truest esteem and regard, dear Sir,
your most obedient and very humble servt.

Richard Henry Lee


MS not found; reprinted from Richard Henry Lee, Memoir of the Life of
Richard Henry Lee, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: H. C. Carey and I. Lea,
1825), 2:63 – 64.

1 See Washington, Papers (Abbot), Confederation Series, 2:437 – 38.

2 See William Grayson to Washington, April 15, note 1.

3 Washington’s March 15 letter to Arthur Lee is in Washington, Papers (Abbot), 2:436 – 37.