From Henry Lee1
Phila 20th. feby. 1800
The enclosure concerns a subject in which Genl. Irvine’s feelings cannot but be deeply interested.2
I persuade myself you will take pleasure in gratifying yr. old brother soldier if compatible with duty. Yr. answer sent to me will with certainty reach the general.
You may have seen in some opposition papers paragraphs placing me as yr. rival.3 I must assure you (tho I know it is not necessary) that such insinuations are entirely groundless. When will you be here?
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Lee, a Virginia Federalist, held the rank of lieutenant colonel at the close of the American Revolution. He was a member of the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1788, a delegate of the Virginia Ratifying Convention, and governor of Virginia from 1792 to November 30, 1794. On July 18, 1798, he was appointed a major general in the Provisional Army (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 292, 293), but he never served. See George Washington to H, July 14, 1798; William Heth to H, January 18, 1799, note 7; the introductory note to H to James Gunn, December 22, 1798. From 1799 to 1801, Lee served in the House of Representatives.
2. William Irvine to H, February 20, 1800 (listed in the appendix to this volume). In this letter Irvine, who had been a brigadier general in the Continental Army at the close of the American Revolution, asked that his son, Captain Callender Irvine of the Second Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers, be retained in the Army despite his long absence due to illness.
3. On January 28, 1800, the [Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser printed the following item from Norfolk, Virginia, dated January 14, 1800: “By a letter from a respectable public character in Philadelphia, we understand that it is probable that Major General LEE will be appointed Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States. The high military character of this gentleman will, no doubt, make this appointment very acceptable to the army and the public in general.” See also the [New York] Argus. Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser, January 31, 1800.
For George Washington’s successor, see H to Rufus King, January 5, 1800, note 12.