<br /> Lee Letter: n865

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Henry Lee
Recipient: Beverley Randolph


I have to ask pardon for my omission in writing last week, and now beg
leave to reply to your letters of the 19h & 28h of

The first relates to the detention of the indents for 86 &
87.3 We feel very much distressed to know
that our country is groaning under injurys, which we have no
opportunity to attempt to releive her from. The remedy being solely in
Congress and that body being for the present out of session. The board
of treasury are merely executive, and dare not exercise the power of
altering resolutions committed to their conduct.

The scheme of indents originated for the purpose of enabling the public to
discharge the interest of the domestic debt, & is marked by three
conditions which seem clearly to explain the natural operation &
effect of this branch of the revenue system – viz – That indents shall be
issued only to such state or states as may have passed the requisition,
providing for its payment, adequate funds – That the payment of indents
shall be in proportion to the payment of specie, & that they shall
be receivable only in discharge of the requisition of the year, to
which they were allotted.

From the first condition it follows that indents cannot be issued to any
state whose compliance with the requisition is not substantial and
effective. If then the act of the Legislature of Virginia passed in the
last session, is only a compliance in name, the board of treasury are
bound to withhold the indents for the present year.

If on the contrary the compliance is effective, the board has criminally
neglected their duty, & deeply injured the state. The act of the
assembly has been laid before congress, & will be the subject of
their deliberation as soon as they re-assemble. Certain it is that our
country has been grossly injured, & that the injury is attributable
either to the Legislature, or to the board of treasury.

The detention of the indents for the year ’86 is authorized by the last of
the three recited conditions, for the receipt of indents issued on the
requisition of the 27h Septr. 85 is only admissible in payment of the
taxes of that year & in the specified ballances stated in the
resolve of the 12h Oct. of the same year, it being a fundamental
principle of the revenue system that distinct appropriations shall be
established for the redemption of indents issued on distinct

The letr. of the 28h respects the pay of the third commissioner appointed
in conformity to the resolve of Congress for adjusting the claims of
Virginia against the union, for moneys expended and services performed
in the conquest & protection of the western territory. We
communicated the purport of this letr. to the board of treasury, who in
compliance with our wishes have been pleased to issue their order for
two hundred dollars, in favor of the commissioner, determining to unite
with the state in advances of money to this officer, untill the
decision of Congress shall be had on the subject. This we trust will
prevent any interruption in the concluding a business, which has
already too long been neglected.

I have the honor to be sir, with great
respect & regard your most obt

Henry Lee Junr.


Receiver’s copy, Continental Congress Papers, Library of Virginia.
Addressed: “The honl. B. Randolph esqr.”

1 Randolph (1754 – 1797) was president of the Virginia executive council and
presided as lieutenant governor in the absence of Gov. Edmund
Randolph who was attending the Philadelphia Convention. See Journals
of the Virginia Council, 4:107.

2 Not in PCC.

3 For an explanation of this “detention,” see Virginia Delegates to Edmund
Randolph, February 26, note 1.