George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Arthur Lee, 11 November 1780

From Arthur Lee

Philadelphia Novr 11th 1780


The manifest necessity of an immediate supply of money for the public service, & the difficulty I am sure there will be in obtaining it from the Court of Versailles, induce me to suggest to your Excellency that, in my judgment, nothing will promote the attainment of it more than your opinion made known to that Court, of its being indispensible to the continuance of the War.

The very high respect they entertain for your character, & their confidence in your judgment, woud, I am persuaded, make a representation from you, give decisive weight to the application of Congress.

The measure is now under their consideration, & if they urge it with firmness, & commit the Negociation to an Envoy extraordinary, who has not been involvd in these unworthy & pernicious disputes, it appears to me probable, that with your Excellency’s recommendation of him & his object, he may succeed.1 This success dwells upon my mind as so essential, not only to the protection of our Country from devastation, but to its existence as independent, that it Will be an apology I hope with you, for my having Troubled you with my opinion upon the subject.

Col. Hamilton will give your Excellency the News circulating here, the only authenticated part of which seems to be the retreat of Ld Cornwallis from Charlotte to Camden.2 I have the honor to be with the greatest respect & esteem, Yr Excellency’s most obedt & most Humbe Servt

Arthur Lee

ALS, PHi: Gratz Collection.

While traveling from Boston to Philadelphia, Lee intended to visit GW at camp (see Nathanael Greene to GW, 8 Oct., and n.3).

1Lt. Col. John Laurens served as the congressional envoy to France (see Laurens to GW, 6 Nov., and n.2 to that document). Lee’s controversial course while U.S. commissioner at Paris earlier in the war probably removed him from consideration to serve as the envoy.

2For the retreat of the British force under Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis, see Greene to GW, 31 Oct., and n.3.

GW replied to Lee on 20 November.

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