George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur Lee, 10 July 1771

From Arthur Lee

London. July 10th 1771.

Dear Sir

When I sit down to sollicit your patronage; I trust more to your goodness, than to any claim I can have on your favor from merit or acquaintance.

Having understood, that it is probable the Assembly will revive the Agency-bill; I take the liberty of entreating your vote & interest, in being appointed. Knowing what influence you very justly possess; I shall greatly depend for success, on your approbation. The desire of serving my immediate Country, in so respectable a character, is I think a laudable ambition; & if an entire devotion to her interests, be a sufficient recommendation, I can plead it with truth.1

Shoud, however, the revival of the Agency-bill, appear to you, not tending to the good of the Colony; I would not be understood to wish, that you shoud depart one jot from that great line, to promote me. It is only on a supposition, that an Agent shoud be deemd necessary, that I offer my service. In doing the duty of this office, I hope zeal & assiduity will supply the want of great abilities; & enable me to serve the House, with satisfaction & success.

I beg the favor, Sir, of being rememberd to Mrs Washington, & to her fair Daughter; who is I hope entirely recoverd from the indisposition, that formerly affected her. I have the honour of being, with great esteem, Dear Sir, Your most Obt Humble Servt

Arthur Lee.


Arthur Lee returned to London from Virginia in 1768 and abandoned medicine for the study and practice of law. In 1769 he emerged in Britain as a pamphleteer in support of American resistance to British policy. In 1770 the Massachusetts General Court made him an agent for the colony in London.

1Edward Montagu (c.1720–1798), who had been the agent in London for the Virginia House of Burgesses since 1759, was not reappointed in 1770. The burgesses decided that they would no longer have a London agent.

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