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Letter from William Lee to C. F. W. Dumas: The Declaration of Independence has totally changed the nature of the contest with America



London, September 10, 1776.

SIR: The 27th ult˙ and the 7th instant, in the absence of my brother, Arthur Lee, your two letters for him came safe to my hands. My brother is now on the Continent, and perhaps may write to you from where he is. The declaration of independence on the part of America, has totally changed the nature of the contest between that country and Great Britain. It is now on the part of Great Britain a scheme of conquest, which few imagine can succeed. Independence is universally adopted by every individual in the thirteen United States, and it has altered the face of things here. The Tories, and particularly the Scotch, hang their heads and keep a profound silence on the subject; the Whigs do not say much, but rather seem to think the step a wise one, on the part of America, and what


was an inevitable consequence of the measures taken by the British Ministry. In short, every one wants to form his judgment by the event of the present campaign, as something decisive is expected to happen from the arrangements under General and Lord Howe, and General Carleton, before the meeting of Parliament, which will be the 24th of October.

In the mean time every effort is made to prevent France from taking any open or even private part with America, for which purpose Mr˙ Stanley, Mr˙ Jenkinson, one of the Lords of the Treasury and confidential friend of Lord Bute and of the Solicitor-General, Mr˙ Wedderburne, have been at Paris some time to aid the negotiations of the British Minister, Lord Stormont. As far as money will answer their purpose, it will not be spared. The French are generally acute enough in observing what is for their interest, but most people here are at a loss to conceive what plan they have in view, as they have not hitherto, as we know of, taken any part with America.

The publick papers will tell you all the material news we have from America, but in general it is supposed the Americans will stand greatly in want of arms, ammunition, and artillery, to oppose such a force as is sent against them, and it is evident they have not experienced officers sufficient to manage such extensive operations as they have in hand. Should you have occasion to write to me, you may address, under cover, as you do to my brother.

I am, with esteem, sir, &c˙