113
113
Lee, Charles, Continental General
Estimate
4,0006,000
LOT SOLD. 2,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
113
Lee, Charles, Continental General
Estimate
4,0006,000
LOT SOLD. 2,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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Lee, Charles, Continental General
Autograph letter signed, 4 pages (7 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.; 198 x 158 mm), Dumfries, Virginia, 14 March 1782, To General [Nathanael Greene], docketed in left margin "from General Lee March 14th 1782" and in top margin "Genl. Lee remarkable for its Moderation"; formerly folded, a few small holes and mended fold tears.
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Literature

Papers of Nathanael Greene, vol. 10 (1998), p. 504

Catalogue Note

General Lee turns his vitriol upon Virginia: "To sum up all in a few words; so odious is the present tyrannical anarchy we groan under, and so little prospect is there of our condition being better'd, that coud[sic] I disentangle my property, I wou'd, (to express myself a la black-guard) rather marry the Devil's Daughter, and go and live with the old Folks, than remain a single instant in this accursed Pandemonium."

Dismissed from the army, living penniless at his undeveloped "estate" called "Prato Rio" in Virginia, the General briefly compliments General Greene on the recent victory in South Carolina but quickly turns to vituperation of his home state (he had evidently been re-reading Montesquieu): "I sincerely congratulate you on the honour you have so justly acquired but as some alloy to your happiness I must freely give you my opinion that (notwithstanding your success, and the whimsical affair of Cornwallis) the situation of this Country wears a most dreary aspect. If Mr. Montesquieu's position is just, that great virtue is the necessary basis of republican governments, it may be pronounc'd that these middle States (for I do not allude to the Eastern [Greene hailed from Rhode Island]) cannot stand on their legs two years longer, Virginia in particular is so horridly deficient in all republican qualifications, ideas and wishes, that they are not even fit for a moderate monarchy; the most idolatrous servitude seems to be their proper sphere."

The leading men of the state, he avers, are corrupt (with the exception of Richard Henry Lee), and only twenty-five (of 72) counties are being charged with the war's expense: "The rest have not (and I believe will not) contribute a single shilling — in short you might as wisely attempt to form a good Corps of light Infantry out of rickety Children, or razors of the bluntest wood, as to make republicans of the Virginians."

The JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: MAGNIFICENT AMERICAN HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: FIRST SELECTION

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New York