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title:“George Mason to Richard Henry Lee”
authors:George Mason
date written:1778-7-21

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:30 a.m. UTC
retrieved:May 26, 2022, 12:58 a.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. 429-31. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Lee Papers, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

George Mason to Richard Henry Lee (July 21, 1778)

Gunston-Hall July 21st: 1778
I am much obliged to you for the last Papers & the agreeable News they contain. American Prospects brighten every Day; nothing, I think, but the speedy Arrival of a strong British Squadron can save the Enemie's Fleet & Army at N. York; indeed as to their Fleet, I trust the Blow is already struck. We are apt to wish for Peace, I confess I am, altho' I am clearly of Opinion that War is the present Interest of these United States: The Union is yet incompleat, & will be so, until the Inhabitants of all the Territory from Cape Briton to the Missisippi are included in it;1 while G. Britain possesses Canada & West Florida, she will continually be setting the Indians upon us, & while she holds the Harbours of Augustine & Hallifax, especially the latter, we shall not be able to protect our Trade or Coasts from her Depredations; at least for many Years to come: the Possession of these two places wou'd save us more than half a Million a Year, & we shou'd then quickly have a Fleet sufficient for the common Protection of our own Coasts; for without some strong-Holds in America, or Naval Magazines in our Neighbourhood, G Britain cou'd seldom, or never keep a Squadron here. If she loses her Army now in America or is obliged to withdraw it, one of which I think must happen, this important Object will probably be obtained in the Course of another Campaign: if the British Ministry act consistently, & in Character, they will not recognise our Independence until this Business is compleated, & until our Prejudices against G. Britain are more firmly rooted, & we become better reconciled to foreign Manners & Manufacturers; it will require no great Length of time to accomplish this, & then the Wisdom of British Counsels will seize the auspicious Moment, & acknowledge our Independence.
Lord Chatham's Death does not seem to be mentioned in the Papers with certainty; but from the weak Condition in which he appeared in the House of lords in April, the account is more than probable.
One can't help being concern'd at the Death of a wise & a good Man; yet it is certainly a favourable Event to America; there was nothing I dreaded so much as his taking the Helm, & nothing I more heartily wish than the Continuance of the present Ministry. After "his most Christian Majesty, & Happiness & Prosperity to the French Nation," my next Toast shall be "long Life & Continuance in Office to the present British Ministry" in the first Bottle of good Claret I get; & I expect some by the first Ships from France.
If Tickets in the second Class of the Lottery are put into the Hands of the Sellers in the former I can very conveniently furnish myself here: I presume the Sellers must be furnished with Lists of the 20 Dollr. Prizes in the first Class, to enable them to make the proper Discounts to the Purchasers in the second.
Your Tobo. is sold at 60/, the highest Price—which has been given here; the Money shall be transmitted, by the first safe Hand, to Mrs. Lee of Belevieu, as you desired.
A very worthy Friend of mine in this County, Capt. Harper, had a partial & unjust Judgement (as he thinks) lately given by a Court of Admiralty in N. Carolina, agst. a Vessel of his (taken by Goodrich in Curratuck Inlet, & recovered by his own Captain's Hands, for Salvage, in favour of some militia Company's, & what was worse, instead of unlading the Vessel, or securing her in a Place of Safety, after they had taken her out of the Possession of Harper's Captain, they only took out some Hhds. of Molasses & Sacks of Salt, & suffered her to remain in the same Spot, with the greatest Part of her Cargoe on Board, until Goodrich return'd from N. York (whither he had carried some other Prizes) &cut the Vessel out from her Moorings; so that Capt. Harper sustains a Loss of the Vessel & the Whole Cargoe, to the amount of several thousand Pounds, & is totally at a Loss how to proceed; not knowing what mode Congress have prescribed for Redress, in such Cases. You will oblige me exceedingly in informing me whether any Court of Vice-Admiralty is established for the Trial of Appeals from the Courts of Admiralty in the different States, & where it sits; if there is yet no such Court whether Congress, in the mean time, takes Cognisance of such Matters; in short what will be the proper Steps for Capt. Harper to take to come at Justice.
I beg my Comps. to your Colleagues, particularly to your Brother Colo. F. Lee, & my Friend Mr. Thos. Adams; & am, Dr. Sir, Yr. sincerely affecte. Friend & Sert.

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