Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Patrick Henry

Dear Sir,

Nothing new hath happened that we know of since my last. But it seems extremely probable that a general engagement will take place in a day or two between the American Army and Gen. Howe. The Quaker m<otto> ought to be "Nos turba sumus" for if you attack one, the whole Society is roused. You will see by the inclosed Testimonies1 a uniform, fixed enmity to American measures, which with the universal ill fame of some capital persons, has occasioned the arrest of old Pemberton and several others, to prevent their mischievous interposition in favor of the enemy at this critical moment when the enemies army is on its way here, with professed design to give this City up to the pillage of the soldiery. They have taken infinite pains, according to custom, to move heaven and earth in their favor, and have transmitted copies of their indecent remonstrances over the Country. Congress have, to prevent ill impressions, ordered their several inimical Testimonies to be published in one Handbill. Altho nothing can be more certain than that Allegiance & protection are reciprocal duties, yet these Men have the assurance to call for the protection of those laws and that government, which they expressly disclaim and refuse to give any evidence of their Allegiance to. There is no doubt but that they will endeavor by means of the "Friends" in Virginia to make disturbance and raise discontent there, but this may serve to put you on your guard. We understand that Gen. Howe has put all his heavy baggage and even his Tents on board ship and that all his fleet except a few Ships of war have fallen down to the mouth of Sassafrass, and many of them gone down the Bay. The Army has three or 4 days victuals cooked and by all their Man#339;uvres it seems clear that they mean to urge their way to this place. Gen. Washington is within 6 miles of their main Body and determined not to remove without a battle. By your letter of the 30th2 last it would seem that you have not received many letters from me that I have written, not one post since my arrival here on the 12 of August having gone without a letter to you with all the material news, besides one by Express. It is realy discouraging to write so much as I do having so little time, and yet my friends not receive my letters. This day Congress have proposed that the Quaker Tories should be sent forthwith to Stanton in Augusta, I hope you will have them well secured there for they are mischievous people.3 Should Howe be disappointed here, as it seems very likely that he will, it is more than probable that he will endeavor to do us all the injury in his power as he returns, and therefore it will be wise to be as well prepared for him as possible. I am dear Sir most affectionately yours

Richard Henry Lee

P.S. - The worthy Baron Kalb desires me to aid your good offices in procuring his baggage to be forwarded by sending you the inclosed which shews the rout travelled and where his Trunks were left - at Wrights Ordinary.

R.H. Lee


Receiver’s copy, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, 3:92. Printed also in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 320 - 22.

1 Lee may have enclosed the special 5 September "Appendix" of the Penn sylvania Evening Post, which contained a 20 December 1776, address urging Quakers to refuse to assist in the American war effort and a 4 September 1777, remonstrance of Israel Pemberton, John Hunt, and Samuel Pleasants claiming the rights of freemen against arbitrary confinement. Pemberton and other prominent Philadelphia Quakers had been arrested by Pennsylvania authorities at the recommendation of a congressional committee of which Lee was a member. On 6 September Congress had approved this committee’s recommendation that Quaker records seized from the confined Quakers should be published, and nine of the "testimonies" and "epistles" presented at various Quaker meetings held in 1775 - 77 were printed in the 9 September issue of Dunlap’s Pennsylvania Packet. For information on the origin of this episode and the developments that led to the arrest and removal to Virginia of several Quakers, see John Hancock to William Livingston, 30 August 1777, note.

2 Henry’s 30 August letter to Lee is in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches, 3 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 3:89 - 90.

3 3 For Henry’s 12 September response to Lee acknowledging this request, see ibid., pp. 94 - 95.