James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Henry Lee, 25 October 1786

From Henry Lee

New York 25th Ocr. 1786

Dear Sir

You now have the report from the secretary of war mentioned in my last letter & omitted.1

The opinions I conveyed then relative to the eastern commotions are daily supported by additional intelligence. The eastern gentlemen here are confirmed in sentiments on this matter and beleive that the discontents will never be settled but by the sword. Perhaps their apprehensions may have some operation in their judgement: but, whether so or not is immat[e]r[i]al, for it is unquestionably true that present appearances portend extensive national calamity. The contagion will spread and may reach Virginia.2

The objects of the malcontents are alluring to the vulgar and the impotency of government is rather an encouragement to, than a restraint on, the licentious. Carrington left us a few days past to visit Col. Grayson, whose situation demanded this attention. This leaves me alone, tomorrow I expect his return, when I hope Grayson and his family will arrive.

His misfortune is truely lamentable but will soon yield I trust to relaxation from business and the company of his friends. Yours affec:

H: Lee Jnr

RC (DLC). Lee appears first to have written “27th Ocr.” and then changed the date to “25th Ocr.” Enclosure not found. Docketed by JM.

1General Knox’s militia plan, which Lee intended to enclose in his 19 Oct. letter to JM.

2The age-old crisis caused by tax collections amidst an agricultural depression was indeed reenacted in Virginia almost a year later. “The weight of them [taxes] is complained of, and the abuses in collecting them still more so. In several Counties the prisons and Court Houses and Clerks office have been wilfully burnt. In Green Briar the course of Justice has been mutinously stopped, and associations entered into against the payment of taxes” (JM to Jefferson, 6 Sept. 1787, Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date; Princeton, N. J., 1950——). description ends , XII, 103–4).

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