Adams Papers
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To John Adams from William Lee, 17 January 1781

From William Lee

Bruxelles Jan. 17th. 1781

Dear Sir

I had the Honor of receiving your favor of the 1st. instant1 by Mr. Searle, who arriv’d here two daies ago and intends to pursue his Journey tomorrow. You will receive by this post from our friend here2 a full account of the Amn. News such as we have it here by the two vessels arriv’d at L’Orient from Phila., and at Bourdx. from Maryland, tho’ you must have more authentic intelligence in your own Letters.

For your amusement I send you a copy of a printed hand bill that was stuck up at the corners of the Streets and other public places in Phila.3

It has been always my Idea that an open acknowlegement of the Independence of Ama. by the several powers of Europe wou’d greatly contribute to bringing about a Peace; on this principle I have strongly urged that their H. Mightinesses shou’d commence an immediate Treaty with America and on our part, it appears to me that we shou’d use all our address in forwarding the business; since otherwise, there may be War between, G.B. Hold. Russa. Swedn. and Denmark this year and a peace between them the next, leaving the War still to rage in Ama. We have no English Post, since the 2d. instant nor any later intelligence from thence.

The humours where you are, do not seem as yet to be sufficiently afloat, but we may suppose they will become somewhat warmer as the Spring Advances.

With the highest respect I have the Honor to remain Dear Sir Your most Obliged & Obedt. Servt.,

W. L.

RC and enclosure (Adams Papers).

1Not found.

2From Edmund Jenings, 18 Jan., below.

3The enclosed handbill, copied in Lee’s hand, circulated in late Oct. 1780. It concerned business dealings between James Mease and Benedict Arnold in 1778, when the former was clothier general of the Continental Army and the latter commanded at Philadelphia in the wake of the British evacuation. It charged that Mease purchased goods in excess of what was needed for public purposes and then, with his subordinate William West Jr., contracted with Arnold to sell the excess for their personal profit. The handbill included the text of the contract, which was dated 23 June 1778. The sentiments expressed in the handbill spurred the Pennsylvania Council, in a letter of 6 Dec. 1780, to place the matter before Congress. On 9 Jan. Congress resolved that Mease and West should be prosecuted in the name of the United States by the attorney general of Pennsylvania for the “abuse of office and breach of trust complained of” (PCC, No. 69, II, f. 306– 309; JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774– 1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 19:40–41). There is no indication, however, that Mease and West were ever tried for their offenses.

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