<br /> Lee Letter: n831

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: John Adams

Dear Sir

I received the letter that you did me the honor to write me on the 15th of
July1 with the pleasure that always
accompanies the receipt of letters from my old and much esteemed
friend. I see with pleasure that your reception at the Court of London
has been such as to promise you an agreeable residence there; which may
be somewhat pleasant altho you should unfortunately fail in the
principal objects of your mission. This last however I yet hope will
not be the case, since you represent the majority of the Ministry as
able, and thinking rightly with respect to us. The national mind cannot
sure continue long under the delusion created by the most vindictive
and abominable characters in the world. I mean the Tory refugees, who
by themselves, and by those, who for sinister purposes, have suffered
themselves to be imposed on by these people, are industriously keeping
up on both sides of the water a contentious and mischievous spirit, to
the great hurt of both countries. We know them here, and by this time
they ought to be known in England, to which country they have caused by
their misrepresentations such infinite evil. In the mind of a person
acquainted with the true state of things, there can remain no doubt but
that this moment is the most favorable one that will probably occur
again for G. Britain to make a favorable Treaty of Commerce with these
U. States. The events that took place immediately succeeding the war,
and which have produced such wrong conclusions touching the British
security of possessing our Commerce exclusively, cannot prevent our
Trade from going, as it is fast proceeding to do, into other channels,
where it is driven by the mistaken discouragements that are imposed by
Britain. I have myself no doubt but that smart duties of Tonnage will
be laid by all the States on the Vessels of those nations with whom we
have not Commercial Treaties. And that such will be prohibited from
importing into our Ports productions or manufactures not the growth or
manufacture of the Country importing them. Thus these States, forced
into it by the intemperance of G. Britain, and led by her example, will
be forming laws to discourage a Commerce that might be so mutually
beneficial if wisdom and temper prevailed over passion and folly. The
project of a Treaty proposed by you to the Court where you are, is so
perfectly just, and will be so greatly beneficial to both, that I
cannot help hoping it will yet be agreed to. I am greatly obliged to
you Sir for your good intentions respecting Mr.
Steptoe,2 and I entreat that you will so
have him in your mind as that you may effectually promote his views
whensoever an opportunity shall present. Much harmony has prevailed
this year in Congress, and I hope the same concord will continue.

The present federal year being on the point of ending I shall return to
Virginia, and as I mentioned in a former letter, you may write very
securely to me, under the care of Messrs. Wallace, Johnson & Muir
Merchants in London, who will safely forward your letters.

I am, with the most sincere and perfect esteem and regard, dear Sir, your
most obedient and very humble servant,

Richard Henry Lee.

P.S. Be so kind as forward Mr. Jeffersons letter to him by the safest
opportunity that you can meet with – I have since determined to send Mr. Jefferson’s Letter by the French Packet.


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

1 See Lee to Unknown, October 10, note 6.

2 See Lee to Adams, May 28, note 3.