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From John Adams to Charles Lee, 19 February 1776

To Charles Lee

Philadelphia Feby. 19. 1776

My dear Sir

The Congress have seen such a Necessity of an able Commander in Canada, as to destine you to that most arduous Service.1 I tremble for your Health, yet I hope the Campaign will rather promote it than otherwise.

We want you att N. York. We want you at Cambridge. We want you in Virginia. But Canada seems of more Importance than any of those Places. And therefore you are sent there. I wish you as many Laurells as Wolf and Montgomery reaped there, with an happier Fate, Health and long Life, after a glorious Return.

But I am ashamed to go on, in such a Strain, when writing to you whose Time is so much better employed than in reading it, when I took up my Pen only to introduce to your Acquaintance a Countryman of yours and a Citizen of the World, to whom a certain Heretical Pamphlet called Common sense, is imputed. His Name is Paine.2 He is travelling to N. York for his Curiosity and wishes to see a Gentleman, whose Character he so highly respects.

A luckier a happier Expedition than yours to N. York never was projected. The whole Whigg World is blessing you for it and none of them more than your Friend and sert.,

John Adams

RC (Dr. Frederick M. Dearborn, N.Y., 1956); addressed: “To Major General Lee New York favoured by Mr Paine”; docketed: “from John Adams feby: 19: 1776 copied.”

1See JA to James Warren, 18 Feb., note 3 (above).

2JA had apparently obtained a copy of Common Sense, which many believed that he or Samuel Adams had written, on his journey to Philadelphia (JA to AA, 18 Feb., Adams Family Correspondence description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– . description ends , 1:348). JA’s initial opinion of Paine and his work was far higher than it would later become. Franklin and Benjamin Rush also sent letters of introduction to Lee in Paine’s care (NYHS, Colls. description begins New-York Historical Society, Collections. description ends , Lee Papers, 1:313–314).

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