My Dear General

You desired to hear from me now and then, when I left Virginia. I obey your wishes with pleasure, & must assure you, that I continue to feel the same unabating zeal to administer to your happiness, which my public duty formerly commanded from me. I wish that my communications may be always agreable; I apprehend your solicitude for the honor & prosperity of a nation formed under your auspices will illy relish intelligence ominous of its destruction. But so circumstanced is the fœderal government, that its death cannot be very far distant, unless immediate and adequate exertions are made by the several states.

The period is hurrying on, when no longer delay can be permitted. The late returns from the continental receivers in the different states prove unanimity in one point among the members of the Union – no money.

Congress impressed with the lamentable effects which await the United States from their adherence to Temporary and disunited exertions, again have addressed the states. I enclose it.1 If success attends, we may divert the evils which menace our existence & may still enjoy that happiness which we so arduously contended for. But should the same supineness continue in our councils, jealousy instead of patriotism direct the measures of our governments, consequences most distressing must certainly ensue. Part of the principal of our foreign loans is due next year, & no certain means yet devized to pay even the interest.

Our agents have arrived in Morrocco, and Algiers, & we have some hopes that their negotiations may be successful.

It is very doubtful how our commissioners may succeed with the indians. We have too much reason to fear a war, which among other evils will encrease our finance embarrassments. People here are very inquisitive about the progress of the potomack navigation. The moment that business wears the prospect of certainty, rich emigrants from all the eastern states will flock to our towns. The assembly of this state are in session, & will emit 200,000£ paper. They are violent enemys to the impost, & I fear even the impending and approaching dangers to the existence of the Union will not move them. Please to present my respects to Mrs. Washington

& accept the best wishes, of your
friend &c. ser,

H. Lee2

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

1 See Charles Thomson to the States, February 15, note 1.

2 Lee may also have written the following brief letter, dated only “Congress Hall – Wednesday,” to James McHenry about this time. On the evidence of the letter, it was written sometime after February 1, when Lee arrived in New York to attend Congress, and before March 14, when the “claim” mentioned would fall due.

“Since I came here I recd. the enclosed lettr. It gives me much pain as Mr Lang tells me that security agreable to the Creditors will with difficulty be obtained. I know Mr. Lebbs & beleive him to be perfectly honorable & free from this charge. I want effectually to aid him & I have but little cash by me. I hold a claim due on the 14th March, & should be much obliged if you could aid me with 8 or 1000 dollars till then when it shall be returned, & in the meantime the note shall be placed in yr hands. Yrs. truely, H L.”

“P.S. You will say nothing about my wishes I trust & Mr Lebbs situation please also to hold secret for it is not generally known.” McHenry Papers, DLC.