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John Page to Richard Henry Lee



Williamsburgh, February 20, 1776.

DEAR SIR: I have just received yours of the 15th instant, and have snatched a moment to write a few lines in answer to it, I approve much of your plan of publishing the hand-bill, and would, before this, have executed it if my indisposition and Mrs˙ Page' s illness, added to an incessant round of business, had not prevented me. The method you mention for removing the spikes from cannon, is certainly good; but it is said the cannon at Norfolk is rendered useless by being broken at their trunnions and butts. I will endeavour, sir, to prevail on our Committee to send you, regularly, authentick accounts, of every material occurrence here, and of the state, of the enemy' s strength. I wrote you yesterday an account of the arrival of another man-of-war, and a transport or two; this report has not been contradicted, nor have we yet heard from whence or what these ships are. Captain Hammond, of the Roebuck, we are well assured, has behaved with great politeness and humanity to several of our people. Lord Dunmore had written a letter to Colonel Corbin, in which he offers to go to England to negotiate peace; he professes the warmest attachment to this country, and says that he lays hold on the last sentence in the King' s speech to offer his services to procure a lasting, speedy, and honourable accommodation. No one, but Lord Dunmore, could have applied that sentence in the manner he has. I will send you a copy of the letter by the post. Colonel Corbin laid the letter before the Committee of Safety, and received a letter from the Committee, which I will also send you. In it we told the Colonel, that we were neither empowered nor inclined to intermeddle with the mode of negotiation; that we looked to the Congress for the management of this important matter; but added, we would lay his letter before the Assembly, which is to meet on their adjournment, and that Lord Dunmore might manifest his good intentions by suspending hostilities. Colonel Corbin set out this morning to Hampton, with orders to Colonel Grayson to send him with a flag of truce to Lord Dunmore. We gave him to understand, that his Lordship should deliver up the slaves now with him immediately. The old gentleman went off in great hopes of procuring a month' s truce at least, and seemed determined to give Captain Hammond a true statement of Lord Dunmore' s conduct. Since writing my letter of yesterday, the Committee have ordered down the saltpetre which had been sent to Petersburgh, to be worked up by Buckstrout. I hope, from this, that they will at length encourage him, and enable him to carry on the manufacturing of gunpowder to a considerable extent. The report of the burning of Portsmouth was entirely without foundation.

I am, dear sir, your affectionate, humble servant,


To Richard Henry Lee, Esq˙, of Chantilly.

P˙ S. I think you had better attend the Assembly. You will be more wanted here than at the Congress. J˙ P.