George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Richard Henry Lee, 15 April 1794

To Richard Henry Lee

Philadelphia 15th April 1794.

Dear Sir,

I have been favored with your letter of the 8th of March from Chantily. It did not, however, (by the Office mark thereon) leave Westmoreland Court House until the 16th of that month. Previously to the receipt of it, the nomination of Mr Lawrence Muse to the Collectorship of Rappahannock had been made, consequent of strong testimonials in his favor.1

The manners of Mr Fauchet, and Mr Genet, the present & former Ministers of France, appear to have been cast in very different moulds. The former has been temperate & placid in all his movements, hitherto; the latter was the reverse of it in all respects. The declarations made by the former, of the friendly dispositions of his Nation towards this Country, and of his own inclinations to carry them into effect, are strong & apparently sincere. The conduct of the latter is disapproved in toto, by the Government of both. yet, it is time only, that will enable us to form a decisive judgment of each; and of the objects of their pursuits.

The British Ministry (as you will have perceived by Mr Pinckneys letter to the Secretary of State, which has been published) disclaim any hostile intentions towards this Country, in the agency they had in bringing about the truce between Portugal & Algiers;2 yet, the tenour of their conduct in this business has been such—added to their manœuvres with our Indian neighbours—but more especially with respect to the late orders of the King in council, as to leave very unfavorable impressions of their friendship, & little to expect from their justice; whatever may result from that of the interest of their Nation.3

The debates, on what are commonly called Mr Madison’s resolutions, which no doubt you have seen (having been published in all the Gazettes) will give you the pro & con of that business more in detail than I could do if my leisure was greater than it is; but these resolutions, like many other matters, are slumbering in Congress; and what may be the final result of them no mortal, I believe can tell.4

I learn with regret that your health has continued bad ever since I had the pleasure of seeing you at Shuters hill.5 Warm weather I hope will restore it: if my wishes could be of any avail you assuredly would have them. With best respects to Mrs Lee and the rest of your family, in which Mrs Washington unites, I am with very great esteem and regard, Dear Sir, Yr Obedt and Affecte Hble Servt

Go: Washington

ALSPPRF; ALS (letterpress copy), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

1Lee’s estate of Chantilly was in Westmoreland County, Virginia. For GW’s recent appointment of Laurence Muse as the customs collector for the District of Tappahannock, Va., see GW to U.S. Senate, 5 March.

2This is a reference to Thomas Pinckney’s letter of 25 Nov. 1793, which GW enclosed with his letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of 24 Feb. 1794. On the British encouragement of a truce between Portugal and Algiers, which left American shipping in the Atlantic Ocean vulnerable to seizure by the Algerines, see n.9 of Tobias Lear to GW, 4 February.

3For the British order-in-council of 8 Jan., which adversely affected American shipping, see ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:431.

4On 3 Jan., Virginia congressman James Madison proposed seven resolutions that would have created a policy of commercial retaliation against Great Britain (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 3d Cong., 1st sess., 155–56; Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 4 Jan.). None of the resolutions was adopted by Congress.

5Lee retired from the U.S. Senate in 1792 due to ill health, and he would die on 19 June 1794. GW may have stopped at Shuter’s Hill, near Alexandria, Va., to visit with Lee and his wife, Anne Gaskins Pinkard Lee, in late October 1793 (see Lee to GW, 23 Oct. 1793, and GW to Lee, 24 Oct. 1793).

Index Entries