George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, 24 October 1793

To Richard Henry Lee

Mount Vernon 2⟨4⟩th Octr 1793

Dear Sir,

Your favor of yesterday the 23d1 was handed to me upon my return from my usual ride, & almost at the moment I was setting down (with company) to dinner, which prevented my acknowledging the receipt of it by your servant.

I am sorry I shall not have the pleasure of seeing you & your Lady before I return to the Northward, and regret the cause. On sunday,2 if I can previously arrange some business that presses, I shall commence my journey, and if I can render you any service whither I am going, I should be happy in doing it.

On fair ground, it would be difficult to assign reasons for the conduct of those who are arraigning, & constantly (as far as they are able) embarrassing the measures of government with respect to its pacific disposition towards the Belligerent Powers in the convulsive dispute which agitated them but their motives are too obvious to those who have the means of information, & have viewed the different grounds they have taken to mistake their object. It is not the cause of France (nor I believe not of liberty) they regard; for could they involve this Country in War (no matter with whom) & disgrace, they would be among the first and loudest of the clamourers against the expence and impolicy of the measure.

The specimens you have seen of Mr G——ts sentiments & conduct in the Gazettes, form a small part only of the agregate; but you can judge from these to what test the temper of the Executive has been put in its various transactions with this Gentleman. Tis probable, the whole will be exhibited to public view in the course of the next Session of Congress—delicacy towards his Nation, has restrained doing it hitherto. The best that can be said of this agent is, that he is entirely unfit for the Mission on which he is employed, unless, contrary to the express & unequivocal declaration of his Country (wch I hope is not the case)—made through himself—it is meant to involve ours in all the horrors of an European War. This, or interested motives of his own—or having become a dupe, & the tool3 of a Party, formed on various principles but to effect local purposes, is the only solution that can be given of his conduct.

I sincerely wish that Mrs Lee & yourself may soon & effectually recover your healths & with very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Your Most Obedt & Affecte Hble Servant

Go: Washington

ADfS, ViMtvL: Chapin-Gould Collection; LB, DLC:GW. The date on the draft was altered and is not clear. GW docketed the draft “24 Oct. 1793,” and the letter-book copy is dated “Octr 24th 1793.” However, when Stan V. Henkels sold a purported ALS in 1921, he reported the date as 25 Oct. (ABPC description begins American Book-Prices Current. New York, 1895—. description ends , 28:930).

1GW struck out the original text at this point and inserted “yesterday” above the line; he later added “23d” on top of the original strikeout but did not cross out “yesterday.”

2The following Sunday was 27 October.

3The letter-book copy has “fool.”

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