Primary tabs

Richard Henry Lee to General Washington



Philadelphia, October 22, 1775.

DEAR SIR: I thank you for your obliging favour of the 13th, and I assure you that no man living approves the vigorous measures you mention more than myself. Great bodies, you know, move slow; and it is as sure that the most palpable and glorious events may be delayed, and the best causes finally lost, by slow, timid, and indecisive counsels. We must be content, however, to take human nature as we find it, and endeavour to draw good out of evil. You will no doubt have heard of the disgraceful conduct of Norfolk, in suffering Lord Dunmore, with a few men, to take away their printing press. It happened when the good


men of that place were all away, and none but Tories and Negroes remained behind. Virginia is much incensed, and five hundred men are ordered immediately down to Norfolk. I expect by every post to hear of the demolition of that infamous nest of Tories.

By a vessel in twenty days from Quebeck, which I believe brings us later intelligence than you had from thence when the last express left camp, we learn that the Deputy-Governour had twelve Companies of Canadians in training, and that they were generally on their guard. But the same account says the Government was so suspicious of the attachment of its troops, that they were trusted with no more than four rounds of cartridges. This still gives us some hopes of success on that quarter. Before this reaches you will have heard of Colonel Allen' s unlucky and unwise attempt upon Montreal, nor have we from the last accounts much prospect of success from St˙ John' s. The Ministerial dependance on Canada is so great that no object can be of greater importance to North-America than to defeat them there. It appears to me that we must have that Country with us this winter, cost what it will. Colonel Stephen writes me from Fort Pitt, that the Indians on that quarter come slowly in to the Commissioners, and that they evidently appear to be waiting the event of things in Canada, when they will surely, according to custom, join the strongest side. We have so many resources for powder, that I think we cannot fail of getting well supplied with that most necessary article.

Remember me, if you please, to General Gates, and to all my acquaintances with you.

I am, with great esteem and sincerity, dear Sir, your affectionate and obedient servant,


P˙ S. Monday morning. ' Tis with infinite concern I inform you that our good old Speaker, Peyton Randolph, Esq˙, went yesterday to dine with Mr˙ Harry Hill, was taken during the course of dinner with the dead palsy, and at nine o' clock at night died without a groan. Thus has American Liberty lost a powerful advocate, and human nature a sincere friend, R˙ H˙ L.