Adams Papers

To John Adams from Arthur Lee, 18 March 1779

From Arthur Lee

Paris. Hôtel d’Espagne Rue Guenegaud. March. 18th. 1779

Dear Sir

Yesterday’s advices from England inform us, that Gen. Lincoln was collecting an Army in S. Carolina to meet the Invaders, and that Prévot was to be re-inforcd from N. York;1 so that it looks as if the War woud be transferd to the Southward.

The English loan rises rapidly in its value, as appears by the Omnium, which in a few days mounted from 4 PCt. to 6½.2 Besides this our Enemies will certainly by supplyd for the next Year’s expenditure by the renewal of the Charter of the East India Company.3

You will judge therefore that We have yet a Hard battle to fight—that the Tories, aided by the plunderers of the public, and those whose unprincipled ambition and vanity will be Seduc’d by the hopes of Titles and Emoluments from England; will renew their efforts, and with more force than ever.

The Whigs and real friends to the Liberties and Independency of Our Country, are therefore in my Judgment, more than ever called upon to unite, their Communications, their Counsels, and their efforts—to act with prudence, vigilance, firmness, Unanimity, and circumspection; and to take care in this most dangerous and trying Season—ne quid detrimenti Respublica capiat.4

I did not expect you woud have quitted Paris before I returnd from Nantes. It woud have given me much pleasure to have conversd with you fully upon a plan of operations which, if not well weighd, and steadily pursued, I shall be under infinite apprehensions for the public.5

My Brother who is here, and Mr. Izard desire to be rememberd to you. Make my Compliments to my friend Master Jack, and believe me to be, Dear Sir, with great Esteem your Mo obedient Hble Sert.

Arthur Lee

P.S. Please to direct your Answer to Mr. Ford instead of me, because all my Letters have been opend at the Post. Put a Stroke over the d as above to distinguish it. Will you send me a Cypher, or shall I make one for the greater Security in writing?

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Lee. March 18. 79 recd & ansd 24. March 1779.”

1An item taken from Rivington’s New York Gazette of 6 Feb. and reprinted in the London Chronicle of 9–11 March, reported that Gen. Benjamin Lincoln and a force of 3,000 men were at Purrysburg, S.C., on the Savannah River across the border from Georgia. Facing them was a force of 3,000 men under Gen. Augustine Prevost, who, like Lincoln, sought to cross the river. Because of the naval forces at his command, Prevost was able to land 200 men under the command of Maj. Valentine Gardiner on Port Royal Island, S.C. On 3 Feb. at Beaufort, S.C., that force was joined in battle by 300 men sent by Lincoln and commanded by Col. William Moultrie. The battle was indecisive, both sides retreating, but it did end Prevost’s immediate plans for an attack on South Carolina (Ward, War of the Revolution description begins Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution, New York, 1952; 2 vols. description ends , 2:681–682). For reports of reinforcements for Georgia, see Edmund Jenings to JA, 10 March, note 6 (above).

2On the London Stock Exchange the “Omnium” was the combined amount of the stocks and other considerations offered by the government in raising a loan for each £100 subscribed (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ). In the London Chronicle of 25–27 Feb., just after the loan had been announced, the “Omnium” was quoted at 2¾. In the issue of 2–4 March it had risen to 4, and in that of 9–11 March it was quoted at 6½ to 6¾.

3In his speech announcing the new loan on 24 Feb., according to one report, Lord North stated that in the following year, “should it be requisite, the most complete and ample resources from the East India Company” would be used. On 1 March, when he presented his proposals for new taxes to pay for the loan, he was more explicit, declaring that “the charter of the East-India Company was near expiring, and in the present state of affairs as well as in justice, assistance might fairly be expected from that quarter” (Parliamentary Hist. description begins The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, London, 1806–1820; 36 vols. description ends , 20:160–167).

4That the state suffer no harm.

5Arthur Lee’s principal reason for going to Nantes was to expedite the shipment of military supplies to Virginia, but while there he also composed a lengthy defense against the charges of Silas Deane (Louis W. Potts, Arthur Lee, Baton Rouge, 1981, p. 222).

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