George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Henry Lee, 16 January 1785

From Richard Henry Lee

New York Jany 16. 1785

Dear Sir,

I had the honor of writing to you last by the post that left Trenton just before I quitted that place, and I should not so soon have troubled you again, if it were not to furnish you with the very excellent pamphlet that accompanies this letter—Doctor Price has lately sent over a few of those pamphlets to the President of Congress and left the disposal of them to him—I am very sure that I shall gratify the Doctors feelings as well as my own, when I request your acceptance of one of them 1—We have no news here, except the account brought by the packet from England just arrived, and which is current in Town—That the war between the Emperor & Holland has certainly commenced[.] A small engagement, near Lillo upon the Scheldt, has taken place, in which a Dutch Regiment is said to have lost 20 or 30 Men—Prussia is said to have taken part with Holland, & the Empress of Russia with the Emperor—It is probable that this quarrel, if it proceeds, will embroil the greatest part of Europe—I hope Great Britain will find herself compelled to engage. My best respects attend your Lady. I am dear Sir, with the truest esteem & regard sincerely yours

Richard Henry Lee


1GW received at least one other copy, and perhaps two, of Richard Price’s pamphlet Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution, and the Means of Making It a Benefit to the World, published in London in 1784. Two copies from GW’s library, one unbound, the other bound and with GW’s autograph, are in the Boston Athenæum. On 5 Feb. 1785 GW thanks Benjamin Vaughan for sending him from London on 31 Oct. 1784 a copy of the Price tract, which he has “seen & read with much pleasure,” and asks Vaughan to extend his thanks to Price for his “honorable mention” of himself. Either this copy from Vaughan or a third copy was the personal gift of Price, who sent with it these words of presentation: “To George Washington Esq. lately Commander in chief of the American Armies, but now retired to enjoy the happiness of private life after delivering his country and establishing a Revolution which may prove a blessing to the world, this pamphlet is presented by the Author as a Small testimony of the highest respect.

“While employ’d in writing this pamphlet the author has been animated more than he can well express by Genl Washington’s excellent circular letter to the united States” (NjP).

GW’s response, which his clerk placed in the letter book at the beginning of the correspondence dated in November 1785, was: “G: Washington presents his most respectful compliments to Dr Price. With much thankfulness he has received, & with the highest gratification he has read the Doctrs excellent observations on the importance of the American Revolution—& the means of making it a benefit to the world. Most devoutly is it to be wished that reasoning so sound should take deep root in the minds of the Revolutionists—But there is cause to apprehend that the inconveniences resulting from ill-founded jealousies & local politics must be felt, ’ere a more liberal system of fcederal Government is adopted. The latter I am persuaded will happen; but its progress may be slow—unless, as the Revolution itself was, it should be precipitated by the all grasping hand of [ ] or the illiberal & mistaken policy of other Nations.

“For the honorable notice of me in your address, I pray you to receive my warmest acknowledgments & the assurances of the sincere esteem & respect which I entertain for you” (LB, DLC:GW).

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