Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Samuel Adams
Chantilly the 7th. of February 1776Dear Sir,
I very sincerely condole with you on our illfortune in Canada. I hope, however, that this will yet turn out well. Those who sail gently down the smooth stream of prosperity, are very apt to loose that energetic virtue and pretty severe discipline too, is necessary for the depraved heart of man, nor have we any right to expect so necessary to true happiness. It seems that discipline security in the enjoyment of the greatest human blessings until we have learnt wisdom and moderation in the school of adversity. We must never forget tho, that God helps them that help themselves, and by straining every nerve for the purpose, cost what it may, let us pour into Canada Troops enough to reduce and fortify Quebec before the ice permits relief to come there from our enemies. The winter is the season for our surest and best exertions, and by wisely availing ourselves of this opportunity the most important points may be secured without much effusion of human blood. I pray you Sir to leave nothing undone that may secure Canada & New York this winter. These are the openings thro which America may, by able fencers, receive the worst wounds. I think our Canada Committee reported there were more important heights on Hudsons river than that which had been fixt on - Let all the very important heights have strong batteries with troops well commanded placed on them, and a strong Camp fixt either at Kings bridge or nearer the City Has not Tryon, that great friend to America something of much moment, as he thinks, in agitation; by his calling on Assembly. This man is one of those kind of friends that requires the most constant and unremitting watching - What means his agent in his public summons of the freeholders when he says "To be representatives of the said city and country to assist the Captain General, or Commanders in chief, in a general Assembly" This is new language I think, and wants explanation. Cant you furnish us with a good general officer or two from the northward to command the 9 battalions raised here? This will be quite necessary should any considerable force be sent to this quarter. We have already done, with the enemy now here, all that can be expected from us - They are driven to seek shelter on board their Ships where they are not furnished with a single carrot, nor suffered to come on shore for water without chastisement. Would our fleet could come this way where a great is and I think attainable without much risk - We learn that the Tory property on float in a number of small Vessels amounts to more than £150,000 and it is protected by three shipsof war only, the Liverpoole, Otter, & Kingfisher - As for the small Tenders, & Merchantmen badly manned and worse provided by Dunmore, they are of little consequence. Our Convention have not taken up government totidem verbis, but I think totis viribus, because Sheriffs & Judges are appointed by ordinance, and the Committee of Safety vested with all the Executive powers. This indeed has been indispensable in the present situation of things.
I hope to see you early in March, and in the mean time shall be extremely glad to hear from you - I am dear Sir
Your affectionate friend.
R. H. Lee
Samuel Adams PapersLenox Library
Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 167 - 69. Addressed "Member in Congress in Philadelphia."