Wythe to Richard Henry Lee, 24 August 1777

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George Wythe thanks Richard Henry Lee for the two Maryland acts he sent. Wythe regretfully informs Lee that he is unable to send a copy of the charter granted by King James Lee requested because it was sent to Richmond and Wythe doubts the caretaker of it can readily find it. Wythe says that a British fleet stopped in Chesapeake and it is rumored that the troops that came from it are going to march to Philadelphia. He suggests that George Washington, who left the city on August 11th, returns to Philadelphia in order to intercept the troops. Changing topics slightly, Wythe calls it a pity that the colonists cannot be more unanimous to allow the war to be concluded more quickly.

Letter text

Dear Sir

In return for your kindness in sending the two Maryland acts, imposing taxes by assessment, I am sorry that I cannot furnish you with an authentic copy of the charter granted by King James. The papers belonging to the House of Delegates, among which the grant is, were long since sent to Richmond; and I do not believe the person in whose care they are, can readily find it. Before you reached Philadelphia, or soon afterwards, you probably heard of the arrival of a British fleet in the Chesapeake. Whilst it was in suspense, whether their destination was for Virginia, If they had made a descent here, how inadequate the forces that could have been drawn together would have been, I need not explain to you. They however soon disappeared. It is supposed that they are bound to the head of the bay; and that the troops on board will march towards Philadelphia: if they should take that route, and General Washington had left the city, as we are informed he did the 10th instant, some of us fear it may be attended with bad effects, unless he can return time enough to obstruct the progress of the enemy. Several of the Gloucester men from the lower part of the county, even of those who were assembled upon this occasion, refused to take the oath of fidelity: Mr. Camen and our countryman Mr. Hubard, of this city, declined it, alleging that they desired time to consider of it: I have heard too, that many in another county, are very scrupulous on this head. It is pity we cannot act with more unanimity and more vigour: nothing else seems wanting to conclude this contest happily and speedily; an event which I despair not of, nor would despair of, if all the tories, . . . . patriots, and trimming neuters were at Howe’s head-quarters. It appears to me, whatever may be achieved by the enemy, or however they may be disappointed in this expedition, that the earliest intelligence of their operations ought to be dispersed. No doubt our delegates in their ordinary correspondence with government will be as communicative as can be reasonably wished, yet particular information from you, sir, will be esteemed a favour. Present my compliments, if you please, to your brother, and believe me to be your friend,

George Wythe
Williamsburg, 24th August, 1777

Col. Richard Henry Lee

See also