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To John Adams from Richard Henry Lee, 29 October 1778

From Richard Henry Lee

Philadelphia Octr. 29. 17781

My dear Sir

I am exceedingly happy to hear of your safe arrival, and I hope agreeable accommodation at Paris. At first, I doubt not, the splendid gaity of a magnificent Court, accorded not so well with the temperate manners of a sober Republican. But use reconciles most things. It may soon happen that you be desired to visit Holland, where I believe they yet retain much of that simplicity of manners which first raised that people to greatness. Our finances want the support of a Loan in Europe. 81,500,000 of dollars with increasing demands as depreciation advances with emission, cannot be cured by the slow working of Taxes. The latter is, I believe deeply gone into by all the States.2

I have seen your letter to our common friend Mr. S. Adams,3 and do most thoroughly accord with you in sentiments. The battle of Monmouth in June last, and the subsequent arrival of Count d’Esteing has kept our enemies in pretty close quarters this Campaign at N. York. The better opinion is, that they mean shortly to abandon that City. But where they intend next we are at a loss to guess. Indeed they have such a choice of difficulties, that it is not an easy matter for themselves to determine what course they shall steer. Never did Men cut a more ridiculous figure than the British Commissioners have done here. There last effort is a formal application to each State, and to all the people in each, by a Manifesto sent in Flags of Truce. We consider this as a prostitution of the Flag, and have recommended the seizure and imprisonment of the people, and the publication of their Manifesto.4 In some instances, the Sea has saved us the trouble by previously swallowing up these silly Missives. I shall be at all times extremely glad to hear from you, being very sincerely dear Sir your affectionate friend

Richard Henry Lee5

RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Hon. R. H. Lee. ans Feb. 13 1779 Oct. 28. 1778 most thorougly accords with me in Sentiments in my Letter to S. Adams.”

1For the publication of this letter in Affaires de l’Angleterre et de l’Amérique (vol. 13, “Lettres,” cahier 65, p. clxxv–clxxvii) under this date and the heading “Lettre de M. Richard Henri Lee, un des Membres, du Congres, à M.*** a P—y,” as well as JA’s role in the alterations indicated in notes 2 and 5, see Samuel Adams to JA, 25 Oct., note 1 (above).

2The preceding three sentences were omitted from the translation in Affaires.

3That of 21 May (vol. 6:144–145, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 4:106–108).

4The Carlisle Commission’s Manifesto and Proclamation of 3 Oct. (Evans description begins Charles Evans and others, comps., American Bibliography: A Chronological Dictionary of All Books, Pamphlets and Periodical Publications Printed in the United States of America [1639–1800], Chicago and Worcester, 1903–1959; 14 vols. description ends , No. 15832) offered the state governments the same terms for peace originally sent to congress, plus a total exemption from parliamentary taxation. The Commissioners indicated, however, that if the Americans persisted in their quest for independence and the alliance with France, they could expect Britain to do whatever was necessary to return the colonies to the empire. On 16 Oct. the congress recommended that the states arrest the agents distributing the document and on 30 Oct., in a countermanifesto, condemned Britain for its barbarous conduct of the war and promised retaliation if such practices continued (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 12:1015–1016, 1080–1082).

5The signature was omitted in Affaires.

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