Adams Papers

To John Adams from Richard Lee, 18 May 1776

From Richard Lee

Wmsburgh May 18. 1776


Inclosed you have a printed Resolve1 which passed our Convention to the infinite joy of our people. The Resolve for Independency has not that peremtory and decided Air I could wish. Perhaps the proviso which reserves to this Colony the power of forming its own Government may be questionable as to its fitness. Would not a Uniform plan of Government prepared for America by the Congress and approved by the Colonies be a surer foundation of Unceasing Harmony to the whole.2 However such as they are the exultation here was extreme. The british flag on the Capitol was immediately Struck and the Continental3 hoisted in its room. The troops were drawn out and we had a discharge of Artillery and small arms.4

If Hopkins Fleet were in Chesepeke Bay Dunmores Fleet might be taken.

My Compliments to Mr. S. Adams and Mr. Payne. I am Sr. yr. Respectful Hble. servt.

Richard Lee5

RC (Adams Papers)

1Virginia’s resolve of 15 May instructed its delegates to propose that the congress “declare the United Colonies free and independent states,” and the convention further resolved that a committee be named to set forth a declaration of rights and draft a plan of government for the colony (Jefferson, Papers description begins The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– . description ends , 1:290–291).

2Period and following capital letter supplied.

3The Continental or Grand Union flag carried for its canton the union of the two crosses of St. George and St. Andrew which the British had adopted and across the red field were sewn white strips to make thirteen red and white stripes. This flag was first flown with Washington’s permission on 1 Jan. 1776 in Cambridge and at Prospect Hill, now in Somerville, outside Boston (Frank Earle Schermerhorn, American and French Flags of the Revolution, 1775–1783, Phila., 1948, p. 16–17, illustrated in plate 1).

4The phrasing of this first paragraph is almost identical to that in a letter from Thomas Ludwell Lee to Richard Henry Lee of the same date (John H. Hazelton, The Declaration of Independence, Its History, N.Y., 1906, p. 401–402).

5Richard Lee (1726–1795), squire of Lee Hall, was a cousin of Richard Henry Lee (Cazenove Gardner Lee Jr., Lee Chronicle, N.Y., 1957, p. 349).

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