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Letter from Richard Henry Lee to Samuel Adams



Chantilly, Va˙, June 23, 1774.

SIR: I did myself the pleasure of writing to you, from this place, before my departure for our Assembly, in May


last, and again, from Williamsburg, immediately after our dissolution, enclosing the order for a fast, which produced that event; and an account of the subsequent conduct of the members after the political death inflicted on them. The day before we were dissolved I had prepared a set of resolutions, the two last of which were thus expressed:

" Resolved, That the blocking up, or the attempting to block the harbour of Boston, until the people there shall submit to the payment of the taxes imposed upon them without the consent of their Representatives, is a most violent and dangerous attempt to destroy the constitutional liberty and rights of all British America.

" Resolved, That * * * * * * * * be appointed Deputies from this House, to meet at * * * * * * * * * such Deputies from the other Colonies as they shall appoint, there to consider and determine on ways the most effectual to stop the exports from North America, and for the adoption of such other measures as may be most decisive for securing the rights of America against the systematic plan formed for their destruction."

I have not a remaining doubt that these resolutions would have been agreed to had they been proposed. I was prevented from offering them by many worthy members, who wished to have the public business first finished, and who were induced to believe, from many conversations they had heard, that there was no danger of a dissolution before it had happened. It seems Government were alarmed at the spirit which the order for a fast denoted, and, fearing the consequences, interposed a dissolution. The consequent conduct of the members was surely much too feeble, in opposition to that very dangerous and alarming degree to which despotism had advanced. So thinking, I did propose to the dissolved members the plan of a general Congress; but they made a distinction between their then state, and that when they were members of the House of Burgesses.

Most of the members, and myself among the rest, had left Williamsburg before your message from Boston had arrived. Twenty-five of them, however, were assembled to consider of that Message, and they determined to invite a general meeting of the whole body on the 1st of August, to consider the measure of stopping the exports and imports. Since that an Indian invasion of our frontier has compelled the calling a new Assembly, for which purpose, writs, returnable to the 11th August, are now out, at which time it is thought the House will meet; when, I think, there is no manner of doubt they will directly adopt the most effectual means in their power for obtaining a redress of grievances. In the mean time, the sense of some counties is taking, and two have already declared their desire to stop the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and the West Indies, and this Colony. It seems very clear to me that there will be a general agreement. Do you not think, that the first most essential step for our Assembly to take, will be an invitation to a general Congress, as speedily as the nature of things will admit, in order that our plan, whatever it may be, may be unanimous, and therefore effectual? I shall be in Williamsburg the 1st of August, and shall continue there until the meeting of Assembly on the 11th. It will be exceedingly agreeable to me to know your sentiments fully on this most important subject. I am sure it will be of real consequence to the cause of liberty that your Committee of Correspondence write fully your sentiments to ours at the same time. It will be well so to time the matter, as that your letters may be in Williamsburg before the 1st of August, at which time a meeting of the late Representatives will take place, notwithstanding the return of the writs to the 11th instant.

I hope the good people of Boston will not lose their spirits under their present heavy oppression, for they will certainly be supported by the other Colonies; and the cause for which they suffer is so glorious, and so deeply interesting to the present and future generations, that all America will owe, in a great measure, their political salvation to the present virtue of Massachusetts Bay.

I am, sir, with very singular regard, your most obedient and humble servant,


To Samuel Adams, Esquire, Boston.