Description

    Richard Henry Lee Autograph Letter Signed "Richard Henry Lee" as President of the United States in Congress Assembled, with postscript signed "R.H.L.," four pages, 7.25" x 9", front and verso. New York, February 7, 1785. Recipient isn't named, but by content, it is most probably William Whipple, Signer of the Declaration of Independence. In part, "It is a long time now since I have had the pleasure to hear from you yet there is no man living whom I wish more to hear from. When I am at home, my situation being removed both from the Post and from such places as Vessels usually stop at has in great degree discouraged me from writing because I reflect on the uncertainty of my letters ever reaching their destination. But you my friend are placed more fortunately, from your place Vessels come to Potomac & Rappahanock rivers every now & then, and they would bring Letters safely so that they would reach me. I shall always receive them with much thankfulness, and I shall always answer them when it is in my power...Since I came to Congress, the circumstances of ill health, and excessive overcharge of business, have concerned to delay the execution of my determined purpose of beginning a correspondence with you upon my arrival at Congress. Remembering that you were fond of chewing Tob. I did very early in the last year pack up a Band of my best Tobacco made up into Twists for chewing...As I was on my way to Congress, at Alexandria I met with a Capt. James Barr of Salem just ready to sail for Salem, and upon his informing me that frequent opportunities offerd from Salem to Portsmouth, and promising to call as he went down the river for the Band of Tobacco and convey it safely to you, I gave him an order for it and have heard nothing since upon the subject. Pray have you received it or heard anything about it?...

    "We have little news here -that which is foreign is entirely confined to the quarrel between the Emperor and Holland - Blows had certainly been exchanged, but the winter intervening the better opinion is, that the negotiations in that season of inactivity in the field, will terminate the dispute amicably. For the sake of humanity it is to be wished. A variety of other business has hitherto prevented us from going into the consideration of revenue matters - indeed there being no Treasury Officers since the resignation of Mr. Morris has been one cause of delay in this most important of all our concerns - Mr. Osgood of Boston, Mr. Garvais of Charlestown, & Mr. Walter Livingston of this City are the present chosen Commissioners of the Treasury, and we wait their answers whether they accept or not. The Trade between us & Great Britain & their W. Indies - the territorial dispute about St. Croix, the detention of the Western Posts, and some other subjects of doubt will render it indispensable that we should send soon an Able, Honest, Conciliating Minister to the Court of London. Both that Court and the Nation are so beset with American Refugees & Tories, who are constantly calumniating these States that they will keep the two Countries in perpetual hot water and prevent any amicable settlement between us. The presence of such a Minister as I have described will banish a Myriad of those Miscreants.
    [On February 24, 1785, 17 days later, Congress elected John Adams as the first U.S. Minister plenipotentiary, to represent the United States of America at the Court of Great Britain.] When the Commissioners who are now treating with the Western Indians shall have finished that business, I expect that we shall proceed in Congress to take measures for benefiting the United States by the Sale of some part of that moist fertile and extensive region that has been yielded to the U.S. by Virginia. I am much concerned to hear that you are afflicted with a disorder in your breast - suppose you were to take a Voyage to Virginia next Fall and pass your next winter there - We shall be very happy in your company, and your health will probably be much benefitted by the voyage..." In a postscript signed with initials Lee asks "What is the price pr. pound of Spermacate Candles at Portsmouth, is it the best place of getting them?"

    William Whipple (1730-1785) represented New Hampshire in the Continental Congress from 1775-1779 and, with Richard Henry Lee and 54 others, signed the Declaration of Independence. Whipple had declined reelection to Congress and returned to New Hampshire where he served as financial receiver for New Hampshire from 1782-1784 and Associate Judge of the Superior Court of N.H. from 1782 until his death. After what was then described as "a painful and lingering illness," William Whipple died on November 28, 1785. It was his wish that an autopsy be performed to see what had caused his pain and the results showed hardening of the arteries leading to his heart. In this letter, Lee writes he is "concerned to hear that you are afflicted with a disorder in your breast." Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794) served in the Continental Congress from 1774-1779 and again from 1784-1785 and in 1787. From November 30, 1784 to November 22, 1785, the period during which he sent this letter, he was President of the United States in Congress Assembled. There are nicks where the horizontal folds meet the edges and miniscule holes at the folds of the first sheet. It is enclosed in acid-free Mylar. This magnificent letter in fine condition, from one Signer to another, about the problems facing the Continental Congress, would be a superb addition to any collection of American autographs.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    25th-26th Thursday-Friday
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