Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas Paine
Chantilly July 13th. 1777Dear Sir,
Your obliging favor of the fourth I have received and thank you for it. Your conjecture concerning the principle on which Gen. Howes first movement to Somerset Court House was made, is I believe very just. And if it be true that he has crossed with his Army to Staten Island, I think it is pretty plain that his sortie from Amboy was calculated to remove our Army to a convenient distance, and there avoid the danger of embarking in the face of a powerful enemy. Upon the whole, these manúuvres evidently shew the weakness of our enemies, and the improbability of their quickly doing anything effectual to the accomplishment of their views against this Continent. In this light, it appears to me of much consequence that an early transmission of Gen. Howes motions, thus far, should be made to our Cornmissioners in France & Spain - The procrastinating genius of the Committee will, I fear, greatly injure our affairs in Europe, and produces a wish that you would, officially, transmit the papers containing the Congress publications of these wants to Dr. Franklin & Dr. Lee. By sending them to a trusty hand in Massachusetts or N. Hampshire concerning which you may be advised by Mr. Adams or Colo. Whipple, the frequent opportunities from the Eastward will furnish speedy & safe conveyances. I know that some adventurous Politicians think, or affect to think, that it were better for America, Foreign interference should not take place until we had evidenced our ability to work out our own salvation - Whether a state of obligation be the best, I will not undertake to de[ter]mine, but I incline to think, that the reception of favors when they can be returned, serve to bind Men more strongly together in friendly union - But whilst I feel myself compelled to consider American Independence as the greatest good, and a return to the domination of G.B after what has happened, as the greatest evil, I am willing to embrace every measure that tends to secure the one, and guard against the other. I am alarmed for our funds, and I am not quite free from apprehension, whilst our enemies whole force, both of Arms and Arts, is employed against us. I wish therefore that France & Spain may come forward without much longer delay, and by so doing, render secure our best and surest good. Both France & Spain doubt our strength, and fear our return to the former connection - The unremitting care of the Court of London hath been to cherish and support this way of thinking - It is our business to counteract their plan, by the most frequent & most authentic transmissions of our State & of events here - The first of August I hope to see you in Philadelphia and
remain in the meantime
Richard Henry Lee
Lee PapersAmerican Philosophical Society
Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 310 - 11. Addressed to Paine, "Secretary to the Committee of Congress for Foreign Affairs." Addressed "Free 3 A Col: Richd: Henry Lee Esqr. of Chantilly Westmoreland County To be left with James Hunter Esqr mercht. Near Fredericksburg Virginia."