<br /> Lee Letter: n798

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: George Washington

Dear Sir,

I have long had a letter prepared for you in answer to your
last1 favor which I have kept for the
honorable Mr. Sitgreaves to be the bearer of, as he proposed to visit
you on his return to North Carolina;2 and
the more especially as his stay has been occasioned by the necessity of
seeing the very important ordinance passed for selling the western
lands, which I wished you to have in its perfected state. The principal
design of this letter is, to introduce to you Mr. Graham, and his Lady
the justly celebrated Mrs. Macaulay Graham,3
whose reputation in the learned world and among the friends to the
rights of human nature is very high indeed. Her merit as an Historian
is very great, and places her as an Author in the foremost rank of
writers. I am well pleased to find that she, as well as all other
judicious foreigners, think themselves when in America, however distant
from Mount Vernon, obliged to pay their respects to you. I believe that
this has been her only motive for going so far South as Virginia. We
are amused here with an account that does not indeed come officially to
us, but however, in such a way as to merit attention. It is, a plan of
the Emperor of Germany, which seems calculated to quiet his quarrel
with Holland, altho perhaps it may not prevent a war in Europe. He is
said to have made a treaty with the Elector of Bavaria, by which he
exchanges his Netherland dominions for those of Bavaria, and transfers
with the exchange, all his rights and claims upon Holland: reserving
Namure and Luxembourg with a district of country around, as a douceur
to France for obtaining the consent of that Court to the exchange. The
Bavarian dominions being much more contiguous to the Austrian than
those of the Netherlands, must greatly increase the Emperors power by a
concentration of his force, heretofore so much divided, as to render
the Netherlands of no great aid in case of war. This however, by
increasing the Austrian power, must of course excite greatly the
jealousy of Prussia in particular, whose King will propably risk a war
rather than see his rival thus strengthened. Holland in the mean time
will be relieved, by injurious claims being transferd from a strong to
a weak land, and the Emperor may find himself brought to a more equal
contest by combating one, instead of three powers lately combined
against him. What may be the issue of the new System, time must
develope. I wish that I may be enabled by Mr. Sitgreaves to furnish you
with the final sense of Congress upon the momentous business of selling
the western lands, in doing which, the first and greatest object seems
to be, the discharging effectually the great weight of debt that the
war has created, and which obstructs so effectually every arrangement
for future security.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the sincerest respect and
esteem, dear Sir Your most obedient and very humble servant

Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Receiver’s copy, Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1 That is, Washington’s letter of March 15, for which see Lee to Washington,
April 18, note 1.

2 See William Grayson to Washington, May 5?, note 6.

3 For other letters introducing the well-known historian and essayist
Catharine Macaulay Graham (1731 – 1791) and her husband William, who
arrived at Mt. Vernon June 4, see Washington, Papers (Abbot),
Confederation Series, 2:533n.3. For her reputation in America, see
Paul H. Smith, comp., English Defenders of American Freedoms,
1774 – 1778 (Washington: Library of Congress, 1972), pp. 107 – 10.