George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Henry Lee, 13 February 1789

To Henry Lee

Mount Vernon Feby 13th 1789

Dear Sir,

I send you the letter you requested for Mr Jefferson under a flying seal, which, af⟨ter⟩ perusal, you will be pleased to have closed for transmission.1 After revolving the subject in many different points of view, I could find no expedient for communicating the information in question, in so unexceptionable a manner, as by making the latter a continuation of my corrispondence on the inland Navigation of America. I hope that the sentiments contained in it, which are the result of some reflection, will not be the less useful ⟨to⟩ you, for being delivered in this Manner; and, at the same time, in case of any undesirable event, that I shall avoid the imputation of having interfered in the business from selfish or improper motives. For I ho⟨ld⟩ it necessary that one should not only be conscious of the purest intentions; but should also have it in his power to demonstrate the disenterestedness of his Words & Actions at all times & upon all occasions. With very great esteem & regard I am—Dear Sir Yr Most Obed. & Affecte S⟨ervt⟩

Go: Washington

ALS (facsimile), sold by Sotheby, Parke-Bernet, 29 April 1980, item 88; LB, DLC:GW. Words in angle brackets are taken from the letter-book copy.

1See Lee to GW, 9 Feb. 1789. A flying seal is a seal attached to a letter left open so that a third party, in this case Lee, might read the document, seal it, and send it on. GW’s letter to Jefferson is also dated 13 Feb. 1789.

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