My dear

In my last letter I detailed the eastern commotions and communicated my apprehensions of their objects & issue.1

G. Knox has just returned from thence and his report grounded on his own knowledge is replete with melancholy information.2 A majority of the people of Massachusetts are in opposition to the government, some of their leaders avow the subversion of it to be their object together with the abolition of debts, the division of property and re-union with G. Britain. In all the eastern states the same temper pre vails more or less, and will certainly break forth whenever the opportune moment may arrive. The mal-contents are in close connexion with Vermont – & that district it is beleived is in negotiation with the Governor of Canada. In one word my dear Genl we are all in dire apprehension that a beginning of anarchy with all its calamitys has approached, & have no means to stop the dreadful work. Individuals suggest the propriety of inviting you to our Congress to pay us a visit, knowing your unbounded influence & beleiving that your appearance among the seditious might bring them back to peace & reconciliation. This is only a surmise & I take the liberty to mention it to you that should the conjuncture of affairs induce Congress to make this request you may have some previous time to make up your mind.3

In great hurry & real dystress I am your affect.,

H. Lee Junr

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

1 Lee is referring to the letter that he apparently wrote October 1, rather than his letter of October 11, which dealt with the Spanish treaty.

2 See the following entry, note.

3 In his response to Lee’s three October letters, Washington’s advice was explicit: “You talk, my good Sir, of employing influence to appease the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be found; and if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for the disorders. Influence is no Government. Let us have one by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured; or let us know the worst at once.” To Washington the situation called for decision. “Know precisely what the insurgents aim at. If they have real grievances, redress them if possible; or acknowledge the justice of them, and your inability to do it in the
present moment. If they have not, employ the force of government against them at once. If this is inadequate,
all will be convinced that the superstructure is bad, or wants support.” Delayed action would only increase the
ranks of the insurgents. “Precedents are dangerous things; let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the Constitution be reprehended: if defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence.” Washington, Writings (Fitzpatrick), 29:34 – 35.