Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Francis Lightfoot Lee

Dear Brother,

An Express just arrived here from Williamsburg informing of the Assembly being called to the 1st. of June, which carries our Spea<ker> away. We supose the design is chiefly to lay Ld. North’s conciliatory plan before the house. ’Tis most <sure> that if this is done, you should, after making ... proper spirited observations on the folly, inju<ry> and insidiousness of the proposition; refer him to the united opinion of N. America in Congress. Many and powerful are the reasons that render it necessary you should fully approve in Gen. Assembly of the proceedings of last Continentl. Congress, of this present appointment and of your Delegates. Ministry and their Tools have constantly informed the Nation that the Provincial Conventions were factious meetings, that their proceedings were not the sense of the people, and that the Constitutional Assemblies (as they contrast the two) would not be of such opinion. To prevent a contradiction of this they have prevented the meeting of Assemblies, unless when they had some special wicked purpose to answer. The Assemblies that have been allowed to meet, all except New York, have reprobated this Ministerial lye, and have resolved as above mentioned. For heavens sake avoid compliments (except to the Soldiery,[)] on the Indian expedition last summer. Nothing has given more concern and disgust to these northern Colonies than our unhappy vote of that sort in last Convention. Yesterday one of the first Men on the Continent for wisdom, sound judgment, good information, and integrity said to me "I was much grieved, and concerned for the honor and good sense of Virginia, when I saw that ill founded illjudged Compliment" Perhaps the scheme is to get another invasion Law and your approbation of another ruinously expensive excursion on the frontiers. A few scatter loping Indians will never be wanting to commit irregularities for the encouragement of these Land exploring schemes. But the Land hunter ought to accomplish his purpose upon terms less destructive than 100,000 charge to the public annually. Never encourage by complimenting the last, a second tour among the Indians and Frontier men. The Continent looks with jealous eyes on the visits of Governors to such places at this crisis." We know the plan of Ministry is to bring Canadians and Indians down upon us. For this reason the Provincial Troops of Connecticut & Massachusetts have wisely taken by a brave coup de Main, possession of the Forts at Ticonderoga & Crown Point. In the former they got 200 pieces of of large Cannon, some field pieces, Swivels, Powder &c. The Congress have directed N. York, Connecticut & Massachusetts to remove these stores &c. to the South end of Lake George and take strong post there to intercept the communication and march of Cannadian & Indian forces into those colonies. The taking of Ticonderoga last year cost G. Britain many thousand lives and a great expense, but now it has been taken from them, tho strong & well garrisoned, by the bravery and enterprise of a few Provincials and at a very small expence. There never was a more total revolution at any place than at New York. The Tory’s have been obliged to fly, the Province is arming, and the Governor dares not call his prostituted Assembly to receive Ld. Norths foolish plan. The Delances, Watts, Cooper, Rivington, Colo. Philips & the rest of the Tory Leaders are fled some to England, and some to private places in the Country where they are not known. The Congress have advised the Yorkers to make provision for carrying their Women & Children into the Country, and to remove their warlike stores before the arrival of Troops there, whom they are not to suffer to encamp, or commit with impunity any hostilities against the people. The latest and best accounts from Boston make the loss of Regulars in killed, wounded, & missing 1000 men. The Provincial loss was trifling. 10,000 men are now encamped before the Town between which and the country there is no intercourse. G. Gage refuses to let the people out in consequence of which their distress must presently must be grievous indeed. The Beseiging Army kee the one Beseiged in constant alarm, so that ’tis said they rest neither Night nor day. Every day is expected to bring 2000 Men more from Ireland, and seven Regiments to N. York where the Torys had informed Ministers they would be well received, but now behold they come to a Country universally hostile, and in Arms to receive them. Connecticut has 12000 Men in Arms, the Jerseys a good many, and the Province at least 8000, - There are 2000 in this City well armed and disciplined Men. In short every Colony this way is well prepared for War and appear to be secure against any Force likley to be sent against them. It would seem as if the Southern Colonies were alone vulnerable at present, and this should be remedied as soon as possible." We are just informed that the Dutch have imported a large quantity of powder into Statia, and that two English Men of War are laying off the Island to prevent its exportation to N. America - That a large quantity is also landed at Cape Francois where no guard is yet placed. The Treasurer should be prevailed with to employ a Mr. Goodrich in in Norfolk, a famous Contraband Man, to send immediately some swift sailing Pilot Boats for 20 or 30000 weight to supply the Counties whose money will no doubt be collected before the powder arives. I hope Capt. Brown is near full by this time, and I suppose Mr. Lees charter’d Ship as well as Outram is arrived in York River - You will have time to load these Vessels as it is not now probable that the Congress will stop the exports sooner than the 10th of September, except provision to the British fishery on the Banks of Newfoundland." It seems the bill for restraining the trade of the Colonies is not to have force until a certain time after its arrival in N. America. So that in this instance the whole power of Legislature is given to Ministry, for it will depend on them when the Act shall arrive here since the may send it when, or never, as they please." Mr. Brown should be immediately informe that there is no prospect of the exportation being stopt, that he may act on full knowledge, about buying or not Tobacco. "We find by the late accounts that Ministry will be more puzzled than they imagine to accomplish their detestable purposes against us Mr./Lee/writes the 26 March that the embarquement from England has been delayed by the impossibility of getting Seamen for the Ships, but he adds let not this delay your vigorous efforts for defence. From Ireland we learn, that the people there have interposed to prevent, the embarquement, and that a contest has happened in which several lives were lost on both sides. The other day G. Gage (hearing that all the provincial Troops, except 1500 were retired to sign an association prepared for them at some distance from the Encampment,) marched with his whole force out of Boston, but seeing the 1500 Provincials drawn up in order of Battle, and disliking their Countenance, he returned within his Lines.

A Man of Wars Tender at Rhode Island lately Seized a vessel loaded with provisions for the Army at Boston and the Country People in Boats attacked and took both the revision Vessel and the Tender, having wounded the Lieutenant of the M. of War and taken his men prisoners whom they conveyed Captives into the Country.

Thus you see our infant struggles on the water are not unsuccessful." You have all the news of this place - I am hurried, as I su pose you will be tired, with the length of this Letter - Let me know by every Post how you go on at Williamsburg & the objects of your deliberations - Remember me to all friends and particularly to Mr. Treasurer.

farewell.
R. H. Lee

Notes:

Lee ManuscriptsHarvard University

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 136 - 40. Arthur Lee endorsed the letter "Liberty Quos nolumus Arthur Lee."