James Madison Papers
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Letter of Introduction for Henry Lee, [April] 1813

Letter of Introduction for Henry Lee

[April 1813]

The Bearer General Henry Lee, being about to sail from the United States to the West-Indies, on particular Business of his own, I take pleasure, in aid of the usual official Documents of protection which are afforded to the Citizens of the United States in such cases, to add this unofficial one, in Hope that it may contribute to secure to him the attention which is due to his services and character.

General Henry Lee served in different Grades in our Revolutionary war, commencing with, and remaining in, the service, to the end of the war, with great Honor to himself and Advantage to his country. In the commencement he commanded a Troop of Horse, but was soon raised to that of a Legion of six hundred men. His first campaigns were under General Washington, in the middle States; his latter, under General Greene, in the Southern. His Services were, in every Stage, of distinguished importance and utility.

As a Partizan under our late illustrious commander in Chief, he performed those active Services, in annoying the lines of the enemy in the camp and on the march, and in bringing intelligence to the General of their movements, which give confidence and Security to an Army, and are indeed indispensable to successful military operations. In his latter campaigns he held a more distinguished Station, and rendered more important Services. The Historian of the Southern War will detail no great action or important movement, in which he was not a very gallant, distinguished, and efficient Party.

Since the Close of our Revolutionary War, General Lee ⟨has⟩ ⟨served⟩ ⟨in⟩ the Congress of the United States and as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in which Stations he acquitted himself with great advantage to his country and honor to himself. He possesses, in my judgment, great qualifications for the command of a considerable force; nor have I doubt, if an occassion should occur to call into activity his Genius, Talents, and acquirements, that his Conduct, on an enlarged scale, would correspond with the fame which he acquired in more early life. I give him this Certificate from a Knowledge of the facts stated in it, and a sincere interest which I take in his future welfare.

RC (ViHi: Lee Family Papers). In a clerk’s hand; undated; signature clipped. Date assigned and writer identified as JM on the basis of James Monroe to Robert Taylor, 1 Mar. 1813 (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports), conveying JM’s request that Taylor obtain permission from Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren for Lee, “in whose welfare the President takes much interest,” to travel to the West Indies; Lee to Monroe, 13 May 1813 (NN: Monroe Papers), written from Santo Domingo and expressing Lee’s gratitude to Monroe and JM; and Lee to JM, 4 Aug. 1813. Based on internal evidence and the letters listed above, the editors have assumed that Monroe and JM were the only two persons likely to have authored this document, and have settled on JM because of his greater familiarity with Lee’s career and because his typical prose style more closely matches this letter than does Monroe’s. Clipped text on the verso of the signature has been supplied by conjecture within angle brackets. Filed with the RC is an undated passport for Lee signed by Warren, ordering that Lee be allowed “to pass without molestation from Alexandria to the West Indies; whither the General is going for the recovery of his health.” For Lee’s injury in the Baltimore Riots of 1812, see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:115 n. 3, 585 n. 1.

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