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respondents in New England, and your political writings.
You know that General Gage, with troops from Great Britain, entered Boston with professions of friendship, and of a design to promote good order in the province. He erected works at the isthmus, which joins the town to the main country. He declared himself shocked, upon a remonstrance of the county of Suffolk, suggesting apprehended danger to the inhabitants of the capital city, in the month of September 1774. In April 1775, a foolish military excursion to the town of Concord brought on the present warlike proceedings of America. In the week after that rupture, the inhabitants of my native town were called upon to deliver up their arms, on condition of being at liberty to depart with all their effects, or to tarry under the general's protection.
The papers enclosed to you herewith, will discover the series of treatment which I experienced from that time. General Gage left Boston October 10th last year ; at which time I sent copies of all my letters and petitions, whereby I had aimed to regain freedom by trial, with a copy of General Howe's evasive answer. I wrote also to the lord mayor of London ; to the printer of the London Mercury, and to General Gage. I suspect the bearer Mr. William Powell deceived me, and did not deliver the packet to Mr. Thomas Broomfield, merchant; or that the latter through timidity, suppressed the papers.
When I was hurried froin Boston jail in last March, I
General Gage threw me into prison, and left Gen.
his hands are tied. He sent his chaplain to tell the prisoners, that he would take upon himself to release us for an equal number, if our friends would discharge such a number. He directed us to write letters to that purport, and said he would forward them immediately: but in two days after he acquainted a person who offered a vessel for a flag of truce, that if prisoners were actually to arrive here under a flag, he should be obliged to seize them till Gen. Howe's orders. Such is the duplicity with which British heroes conduct, after undertaking the task of kidnapping freeborn citizens !
I have not obtained a sight of General Massie, nor even one of his aids de camp. I have no prospect of release from jail, but through your sagacity and humane and generous spirit.
Hancock and Adams are the only names excepted in the lying act of grace, of June 12th. But there is a deep rancour against me for having publicly repeated, after judge Blackstone, what the murderers have now taught me by experience, “that slaves envy the freedom of others, and take a malicious pleasure in contributing to
I must not omit to tell you that on the second of Feb. the general got possession of a billet, which I had given that morning to one going to Point Shirley. He thereupon ordered me to be closely locked up, and be debarred the use of pen, ink, and paper. They will plead this as a proof of my just imprisonment; but surely, sir, it cannot have such a retrospective force. I was as innocent as an unborn infant, as to the forbidden correspondence, until I had been unjustly distressed in prison. The promised protection of June 12th, being taken from me,
slighted the wretches, and all their military edicts: and I continue to do it most cordially.
Should you recover the papers referred to as sent in October and May, I am satisfied you will judge that I have maintained a manly spirit, under all my past oppressions. I hope you will be induced to believe that no fresh exertions of the scientific barbarity of those who hold me in duress, shall bring me to any conduct that
se US such
can be disgraceful to the patronage which I promise
but reda ually
This letter from his manly and suffering fellow citizen,
did not reach Mr. Lee in time to enable him to exert himself to procure the release of Mr. Lovell. Between this gentleman and Mr. Lee there began a warm friendship and correspondence from Mr. Lee's receipt of this letter which continued until their death. They had never seen each other until the return of Mr. Lee from France in the year 1781, although the terms of their letters written during the residence of Mr. Lee abroad, would induce a reader to suppose they had long been personally acquainted.
Mr. Lee is appointed in Dec. 1775, secret Agent of Congress-Letter of the “ Se
cret Corresponding Committee” of Congress, acquainting him of the appointment and the purpose of it-His interviews with the French Minister at London, He goes to France as secret Agent, in the spring of the year 1776–His interviews with Vergennes and Turgot—The Result of his Mission-In the fall of 1776, he is appointed a Joint Commissioner to the Court of France, with Dr. Franklio and Silas Deane -Letter to Lord Shelburne—Interesting Anecdote of VoltaireAgency for the State of Virginia—His learned and political friends in France, Turgot, Adanson, Vergennes, Neckar, Breteuil, &c.—State of Affairs in America in the winter of 1776–7–Memorial on this subject, from the American Commissioners to the Court of France-Written by Mr. Lee-Note of the Commissioners to the same, touching the capture of an American vessel on the coast of France-Mr. Lee is appointed sole Commissioner to the Court of Madrid Goes to Spain—Is desired by that Couft not to proceed to Madrid-Kis letters to the Commissioners in Paris, from Victoria in Spain—Their Reply written by Dr. Franklin-The British Court remonstrates with that of Spain against the reception of Mr. Lee-His Correspondence on this subject—His Memorial to the Court of Spain on the subject of his Mission-Results of it-He returns to Paris .-Is sent to Berlin as Commissioner to the Court of Prussia-Letter from Berlin to General Washington—Spanish Papers.
In the month of November 1775, the congress appointed a committee for the purpose of secretly corresponding with the friends of the colonies, “ in Great Britain, Ireland, and in other parts of the world.”* The principal object of this committee was to ascertain the feelings and views of the courts of France and Spain, in regard to the dispute between the colonies and Great Britain ; and how far they would be disposed to assist them in arms, ammunition and money, and eventually to form treaties of commerce and alliance with them. It was known that France had not been an idle spectator of the contest between Great Britain and her colonies. The congress was desirous of ascertaining more directly her views on this subject. To enable them to attain their object, the committee was authorized to appoint secret
* See Secret Journals, vol. i.
agents abroad to aid them in obtaining the most authentic information on every point on which it was important to have certain intelligence. V The committee, which was styled “the Secret Committee of Congress," appointed Mr. Lee their secret agent in London. Of this appointment he was informed by a letter from that committee, which is here inserted from the original MS. in the handwriting of Dr. Franklin, with the signatures of Dr. Franklin, John Dickinson and John Jay, in their handwriting. This letter cannot fail to interest the reader, for it contains the views of congress, at an early and momentous period of the revolution, on subjects of the last importance.
PulADELPHJA, Dec. 12th, 1775. “Sir,-By this conveyance we have the pleasure of transmitting to you sundry printed papers, that such of them as you think proper may be immediately published in England.
We have written on the subject of American affairs to Monsieur C. G. F. Dumas, who resides at the Hague. We recommend to you to correspond with him, and to send through his hands any letters to us which you cannot send more directly. He will transmit them via St. Eustatia. When you write to him direct your letter thus, 'A Mons: Mons: C. G. F. Dumas, cher Mad. le V. Loder a la Hague,' and put it under cover, directed to Mr. A. Stucky, merchant, at Rotterdam.
Mr. Story may be trusted with any despatches you think proper to send us. You will be so kind as to aid and advise him.
It would be agreeable to congress to know the disposition of foreign powers towards us, and we hope this object will engage your attention. We need not hint that great circumspection and impenetrable sccresy are necessary. The congress rely on your zeal and abilities to serve them, and will readily compensate you for whatever trouble and expense a compliance with their desire may occasion. We remit you for the present £200.
Whenever you think the importance of your des