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Lee, Francis Lightfoot (1734-1797) to Arthur Lee

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00975 Author/Creator: Lee, Francis Lightfoot (1734-1797) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 10 December 1778 Pagination: 3 p. ; 25 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Warns his brother, then on a diplomatic mission with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane to obtain aid from France during the American Revolution, about the intrigue surrounding the recently recalled Deane. Indicates that Deane has formed a faction within Congress determined to "remove all the old friends of Liberty & Independence." Comments that he does not know Deane's specific intentions but suggests that he arm himself with "the means necessary, both for attack & defence."

Full Transcript: Philadelphia Decr. 10th 1778

My dear Brother
After having been absent since the beginning of June, I arrived here the 7. of Novr. our brot. leaving it a fortnight before. I was ...astonished to find that S. Deane had made so great progress in the Art of intriguing, as to have formed here a very dangerous party who think it necessary to their designs, to remove all the old friends of Liberty & Independance [sic] for which purpose every Lie their invention can furnish, is circulated with the Air of certainty, & the blackest colorings given to Actions in themselves indifferent or accidental. This party is composed of the Tories, all those who have rob'd the public, are now doing it, & those who wish to do it with many others, whose design, I fear, is of a much more alarming nature, & a few who wish to succeed to offices abroad. All these together form a very powerfull body. - Having prepared the minds of the people, by a number of understrappers, who have been circulating their insinuations & falshoods thro' the Country with great industry; They opened the attack on the 5th instt. with the piece in Dunlaps Paper, which you must have seen before this reaches you. The air of importance & confidence which accompanies it & the lavish professions of Love for the people, give it great weight in this City and I dare say, will elsewhere till the truth comes to be known for they have their dependencies thro' the Continent by means of their new formed commercial Establishments.
[2] I make no doubt you will be astonished when I tell you that Congress has not called him to account for this piece; as at the first glance you must perceive it contains a daring insult to that body, & the greatest injury to the public good, but your wonder will increase, when I assure you, that the part where he complains of the Ears of Congress being shut to him, is an impudent falshood. The fact is, that beside the two Audiences which he had, he wrote them several Letters; in all of which he never mentioned one word of this pretended treachery of yours, every day he might have communicated by Letter whatever he pleased; & some days before his publication, Congress had alotted some part of every day, for their foreign affairs, untill they should get thro' them, of which he had notice. The want of a Cypher, prevents my explaining this fully to you, but you may know, that the old Whigs are really struck with amazement at the boldness of this party; & seem willing to let them run on in full security, that they may the easier get to the bottom of their designs, & know the whole of their strength.
A great man, appears to me, to give all his influence to this party. I cannot as yet discover what are his intentions, if he really means, mutual Advantage, I think he is their dupe, notwithstanding all his sagacity. If he has any sinister designs upon this Country; they are his dupes, for I know they are not friends to his State. - The first consequence which they expect, is the recall of yourself & our bror.; which may perhaps take place. You will therefore see the necessity of sparing neither time, nor pains, to provide yourself with [3] all the means necessary, both for attack & defence, in the meantime, everything will be done, by your friends, that is in your power to open the Eyes of the people, & set S. Deane in his true light. Mr. C- acts the same part here, that he did in France. Your old friend D-r is strong with them, together with the New Yorkers & Maryland.
Mr. Lovel no doubt has communicated all our news. We have just heard, that 30,000 ton of Shipping are order'd to be immediately taken up on Government service at New York, & a general embargo laid. This looks like an intention of quitting that place, a few days will determine it.
Yours afftly.
F. L. L.
See More

People: Lee, Francis Lightfoot, 1734-1797
Lee, Arthur, 1740-1792

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: SpyingGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyFranceRevolutionary WarCongressContinental CongressFreedom and IndependenceCorruption and ScandalDiplomacyGovernment and Civics

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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