Washington and Lee University

Sender: Richard Henry Lee
Recipient: Arthur Lee

My dear Brother,

I heared with much pleasure that you were destined to the Court of Berlin, because I think you may be able to do your Country essential services there. The power and the magnanimity of the Prussian Monarch puts him above apprehentions from the Court of London for pursuing measures dictated by true generosity and the interest of his people. A Port in the North for our Privateers, Prizes, and for the conduct of Commerce, will much benefit both countries. It is indisputably certain that a most extensive and mutually beneficial commerce may be carried on between the dominions of Prussia and the United States; but it is unfortunate for us, that whilst we are left singly to oppose the whole force of G. Britain (young as we are in war), we are prevented from giving experimental proofs of the benefits of our commerce, by the impossibility of sending our products, or getting those of other Countries. His Prussian Majesty has power, by a variety of ways, to call away much of the British attention from us and thereby facilitating commercial intercourse. Add to this, that the public acknowledgement of the Independency of these States, by his Prussian Majesty, would give dignity, and advantage to our cause, and procure the same acknowledgement from other Powers. The Committee have written so fully of the events of war in their public letter that I need not add here to what they have said; unless it be to say that our continued accounts confirm the great loss sustained by the enemy on the 4th instant, in the battle of German Town. We understand that Generals Agnew and Grant are dead, and that Sr. Wm Erskine is mortally wounded. Some reports place Gen. Kephausen among the slain, and Lord Cornwallis with the wounded. Our Army is, by reinforcements, stronger now than before the last battle, in high spirits, and we expect will give Gen. Howe further amusement in a short time. Suffer me here to observe a little upon the enemies possession of Philadelphia. In Europe, where our affairs are ill understood, perhaps it may make some noise; with us, it is realy of little importance. When first we entered into this war, we not only considered, but absolutely declared that we considered our great Towns, as not defensible - But that the possession of these would avail little towards the accomplishment of the views of our enemies. In truth they are but spots in the great Map of North America. But it is far from being certain that Gen. Howe will retain Philadelphia two months. We know that during the last battle [he] had given orders for his baggage to cross the Schuylkil, and the friends of government, as he calls the detestable enemies of their Country, to quit the Town. Boston was once theirs, but now no longer so. It will be worth while to counteract the magnified falsehoods of our enemies concerning this subject. What is become of our brother,1 we hear nothing of him. I have never received the Bark from Mr. Gardoqui, but you may be assured it is extremely wanted by myself and my family. I make no doubt but you will do the best for my boys in conjunction with their Uncle - but if they cannot remain to be tolerably finished in France, let them be sent by the first good opportunity to me.

I am with the most tender affection and faithful friendship yours,
Richard Henry Lee

Notes:

Lee PapersUniversity of Virginia Archies

Printed in James Curtis Ballagh, The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Volume 1, 1762 - 1778, pp. 327 - 30. Addressed to Lee, "one of the Commissioners from the United States of America to the Court of France, Paris."

Arthur Lee wrote Count de Vergennes on 6 December 1777 enclosing extracts from this letter and from George Washington's letter to Arthur Lee of 5 October 1777. Both extract contain alterations made by Arthur Lee.

1 That is, William Lee.