Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“George Mason to Richard Henry Lee”
authors:George Mason
date written:1776-5-18

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:57 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 29, 2024, 4:19 p.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Richard Henry Lee." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 271-72. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.

George Mason to Richard Henry Lee (May 18, 1776)

Williamsburg May 18th. 1776.
After a smart fit of the Gout, which detain'd me at Home the first of the Session, I have at last reached this Place, where, to my great Satisfaction, I find the first grand Point has been carried nem: con: The opponents being so few, that they did not think fit to divide, or contradict the general Voyce. Yr. Brother Colo. T. Lee will inclose you the Resolve. The Preamble is tedious, rather timid, & in many Instances exceptionable; but I hope it may answer the Purpose. We are now going upon the most important of all Subjects—Government: The Committee appointed to prepare a plan is, according to Custom, overcharged with useless Members. You know our Conventions. I need only say that it is not mended by the late Elections. We shall, in all probability have a thousand ridiculous and impracticable proposals, & of Course, a Plan form'd of hetrogenious, jarring & unintelligible Ingredients; this can be prevented only by a few Men of Integrity & Abilitys, whose Countrys Interest lies next their Hearts, undertaking this Business, and defending it ably thro' every stage of opposition. I need not tell you how much you will be wanted here on this Occasion. I speak with the Sincerity of a Friend, when I assure you that, in my opinion, your absence can not, must not be dispensed with. We can not do without you— Mr. Nellson is now on his Way to Philadelphia; & will supply your place in Congress, by keeping up the representation of this Colony. It will be some time I presume before that Assembly can be fully possess'd of the Sentiments & Instructions of the different Provinces; which I hope will afford you time to return. Pray confer with some of your ablest Friends at Congress upon the Subject of foreign Alliances; what Terms it will be expedient to offer. Nations, like Individuals, are govern'd by their Interest— Great Britain will bid against us— Whatever European Power takes us [by] the Hand must risque a War with her. We want but two things—a regular Supply of military Stores, and a naval Protection of our Trade & Coasts—for the first we are able & willing to pay the Value in the Produce of our Country—for the second, we must give something adequate—to offer what is not worth accepting will be trifleing with ourselves. Our Exports shou'd not be bound as affected by Treaty; our Right to these shou'd be sacredly retain'd. In our Imports perhaps we may make Concessions as far as to give a Preference to the Manufactures as Produce of a particular Country: this wou'd indeed have the Effect of every other Monopoly: We shou'd be furnished with Goods of worse Quality, & at a higher Price than in an open Market; but this wou'd only force us earlier into Manufactures. It is an important & delicate Subject, & requires thorough Consideration. I know you will excuse my loose Thoughts; which I give you in a Hurry, without Order, but without Reserve. I have not time to copy or correct having only borrowed half an Hour, before I attend the House, which is now meeting. At all Events, my dear Sir, let us see you here as soon as possible. All your Friends anxiously expect you, & none more than Your Affecte Friend & Sr[t].
P. S. You who know what Business is now before the Congress, & in what Forwardness, as well as how yr. Colleagues stand affected, as to capital Points, will be best able to judge whether, at this great Crisis, you can do most Service there, or here, & I am sure you will act accordingly.

Resource Metadata







Annotations (0)