<br /> Lee Letter: n871

Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: William Lee

My dear Brother,

As I take it for granted that your Nieces from the Northern Neck are with
you by this time, I shall enclose a letter herein for my daughter
Molly. I have been here near a month, since which nothing remarkable
hath occurred. In Congress, since my coming, we have passed an
Ordinance for establishing a temporary government beyond the Ohio for
the more perfect security of peace and property among the rude people
who will probably be the first Settlers there. The form of this
government, as you will see by the enclosed paper, is much more tonic
than our democratic forms on the Atlantic

We have also ratified a Treaty of peace & commerce with the Emperor of
Morocco, as you will find also in the paper. This Treaty will give some
relief to our Mediterranean Trade, and may facilitate treaties with the
other Piratical States.2 Congress have just
finished a <Treaty> Contract with a Company of Adventurers for
the sale of five millions of Acres on the Northwest line of the Virga.
Cession3 by which sale, after all
deductions, we hope to extinguish four millions of dollars of the
principal of the domestic debt, which as far as [it has been]
liquidated, amounts to twenty seven millions, five hundred sixty nine
thousand, five hundred seventy-five dollars & twenty seven
ninetieths. It is supposed that when the whole debt is liquidated that
it will amount to 30 millions. We are now digesting a plan for selling
the land between the Scioto and the great Miami. This is a fine country
and the lands equal to any beyond the Ohio. Out of this between the
Little Miami and Scioto, is to come the Land for our Line of the late
Army.4 The impeachment of
Hastings5 and the Troubles [in Holland]
seems to be the principal European news. The Hollanders appear to be
fairly engaged in […] I apprehend threatens them with a fatal
interference of the surrounding Kingly powers; who no doubt will be
glad of an opportunity to destroy a government ever hateful to Kings.
Our federal Convention is yet, and will probably continue to be
sometime longer, engaged in the great business that collected them. It
seems probable that they will propose a government of much more Tone
than that which at present attempts to rule the Confederacy.

A small time before I left home, the want of Wine induced me to venture on
one of your Quarter Casks at Stratford, and as I was in possession of
your terms to be sure I am at mercy. But I have perfect reliance that
you will settle the matter justly. After fining it, I bottled it
carefully, and exactly five dozen & 2 bottles came from the Cask.
These being common quart bottles wish I
[…]6 12 & an half gallons. I
[…]7 I know not, the wine is realy
acid; so […] I was […] in Cask & place it in my shed
& see if the […] of the place would restore it – and that it now is – […] Under these circumstances, you will please to say what I am to pay and the money shall be ready for your order at
[…] November. The states of N. Hampshire, Massachusetts, and
Maryland have already sent Congress their Acts [making the?] Treaty of
Peace with G. Britain the Supreme Law in all […] that Treaty,
agreably to the Act of Congress recd. […] measure as it applied
to British debts. […] eye sight, I hope not so distresed as not
to […] possession of a good portion of that most valuable

My Love to […] to the Northern Girls […]

I am my dear brother

Richard […]


Receiver’s copy, Lee-Ludwell Papers, Virginia Historical Society.

1 See Lee to Francis Lightfoot Lee, July 14, note 2.

2 See Charles Thomson to the States, July 21.

3 See Lee to Francis Lightfoot Lee, July 14, note 3.

4 Secretary at War Henry Knox had warned Congress in a letter of April 26
that hard-pressed military veterans, many approaching old age, would
never attain the bounty lands promised during wartime at the present
rate of surveying under the Ordinance of 1785, since only about
100,000 of the three million acres necessary to satisfy their claims
had actually been surveyed. Moreover, the veterans would never be in
a position to “enter into competition with rich speculators” for the
remaining 86 of surveyed federal land. He therefore recommended that
Congress set aside a military district in Ohio large enough to
satisfy all claims, to be surveyed with dispatch at federal expense.
On May 2 Congress referred Knox’s letter to a committee of five
chaired by Edward Carrington and including Egbert Benson, Nathan
Dane, Rufus King, and James Madison, which reported on October 12
shortly before the Ohio Company purchase was concluded. On October 22
Congress created two military districts, one of a million acres
between the Scioto and Muskingum rivers north of the lands purchased
by the Ohio and Scioto companies, and a second tract of several
million acres in the Illinois country bounded by the Mississippi and
Wabash rivers above the mouth of the Ohio. Although the resolution
stipulated that Secretary Knox would validate claims and supervise
Geographer Thomas Hutchins in the expeditious survey of the
districts, in which no other lands would be granted until all
existing bounty claims were satisfied, no surveys were undertaken
during the remainder of the Confederation period. See JCC, 32:242 – 43, 246, 33:666, 695 – 96; PCC, item 150, 2:319 – 21, item 190, fol. 148; Jean H. Vivian, “Military Land Bounties During the Revolutionary and Confederation Periods,” Maryland Historical Magazine 61 (September 1966): 249 – 56; and Lester J. Cappon, et al., ed., Atlas of Early American History: the Revolutionary Era, 1760 – 1790 (Princeton, N.J.: Published for the Newberry Library and the Institute of Early
American History and Culture by the Princeton University Press,
1976), map 61.

5 That is Warren Hastings, who was being tried before the British House of
Lords, on charges brought by Edmund Burke for his conduct as governor
general of Bengal, in a celebrated political trial aimed at
discrediting the East India Company.

6 Five to six words illegible.

7 Four to five words illegible.