Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Richard Henry Lee, 2 May 1778

From Richard Henry Lee

York May 2. 1778.

Dear Sir

We are this moment made acquainted by the War Office that an Express was immediately to depart for Virginia, and I take the opportunity of enclosing by him the last papers, which contain all our news, except it be a report that seems not illy founded, that Genl. Amhers[t] and Adml. Keppel are arrived at Philadelphia as commissioners from the King and Parliament of G. B. to carry into execution the very curious plan that one of the inclosed papers contains. Tis happy for America that her enemies have not sufficient ability to give even a specious appearance to their wicked designs. In this case the Peasantry here develope the cheat. We have no news, not a scrip from our Com[mission]ers. The Gold and the Sea power of our enemies have [preva]iled to deprive us of most important dispatch[es.] Adieu my dear Sir,

Richard Henry Lee

Gen. Lee is fully exchanged and is sent for from […] to attend the Army. For Gods sake, for the love of our Countr[y,] my dear friend, let more vigorous measures be quickly adop[ted] for reenforcing the Army. The last draft will fall greatly short of the requisite number. Our enemies are sore pressed, wisdom and vigor now will presently compel G. B., proud as she is, to acknowledge our Independency.

RC (DLC). Addressed: “Thomas Jefferson esquire, or in his absence To the honorable George Wythe esqr. at Williamsburg in Virginia.” Franked: “R. H. Lee By Express.”

The express by which this letter was transmitted was detained a day because of the arrival of news from France, and Lee’s letter of 3 May, below, was sent by the same messenger. The false rumor that Lord Amherst and Admiral Augustus Keppel were among the commissioners from the king and parliament was widely circulated (Va. Gaz. description begins Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, 1751–1780, and Richmond, 1780–1781). Abbreviations for publishers of the several newspapers of this name, frequently published concurrently, include the following: C & D (Clarkson & Davis), D & H (Dixon & Hunter), D &N (Dixon & Nicolson), P & D (Purdie & Dixon). In all other cases the publisher’s name is not abbreviated. description ends [d & h], 8 May 1778; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress description ends , iii, No. 230). The British commissioners had set out for America on 16 Apr. but did not arrive in Philadelphia until 6 June; for a full treatment of the appointment of the commissioners, the plans of the King and Parliament, and the failure of the mission see Van Doren, Secret History, ch. iii and iv.

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