Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Thomas Lee
Recipient: Ludwell Lee

I heared with great pleasure that my dear children were safely arrived in France.1 Before this intelligence reached me I had suffered much from apprehensions both for them and their worthy Uncles, in a Country (England) where every consideration of virtue and justice, is sacrificed to wicked resentment and views of Tyranny. The risk and danger of correspondence to Great Britain prevented me from writing to you whilst you remained in that Country, and not a want of affection, for whilst you continue to behave as well as you have done, my tenderest affection shall always be placed on you. The views I formerly entertained for my eldest Son must now be changed, with the great alterations that have taken place in the System of North America. Instead of the Church I would now have him as knowing as possible in Commerce, as well the Theory as the Practical part. For this purpose, if his good Uncle William should reside in France, my Son will be employed by him as Clerk or Agent in some capacity, by which a temporary support may be gained, and a lasting knowledge of business at the same time. But, whether he is under the immediate care of his Uncle, or any other Gentleman in France, I hope and insist that he pay the closest attention to business, and the greatest respect and obedience to him under whose care and patronage he lives. Every present and future good consequence will flow from such a conduct, and every evil from the contrary. Let my dear Son therefore, grave upon his mind, and faithfully practice this advice of his affectionate father. It will be of great importance to learn well the French language, and be able to speak, read, and write it with correctness and fluency. Our future commerce with France will be so extensive as to render this indispensible, and I desire it may not be neglected. If Gentlemen in France observe your attention to business and capacity for the discharge of it, there is no doubt but on your return to your own Country, you will be so trusted to conduct the business of foreign Merchants, as to be very useful to them, and profitable to yourself. Your2

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archives

Endorsed "Copy of a letter to my Sons." Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 287 - 88. A transcript in the Lee Papers at the Virginia Historical Society is printed in the May 1860 issue of the Southern Literary Messenger, p. 349.

1 Arthur Lee’s 19 March 1777, letter, in which he informed his brother that Thomas was with John Schweighauser, a Nantes merchant, and that Ludwell was studying engineering at a military academy in Paris, is in the Lee Family Papers, MH-H.

2 The letter ends abruptly here at midpage.