Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO RICHARD HENRY LEE. - The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785)
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TO RICHARD HENRY LEE. - George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, vol. X (1782-1785) 
The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1890). Vol. X (1782-1785).
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TO RICHARD HENRY LEE.
Speaking of these navigations, I have the pleasure to inform you that the subscriptions (especially for the first) at the surrender of the books, agreeably to the act which I enclosed you in my last, exceeded my most sanguine expectation:—for the latter, that is James river, no comparison of them has yet been made.—
Mount Vernon, 22 June, 1785.
Of the £50,000 Sterlg. required for the Potomac navigation, upwards of £40,000, was subjoined before the middle of May, and encreasing fast—a President & four Directors, consisting of your hble. servant, Govrs. Johnson and Lee of Maryland, and Colos. Fitzgerald and Gilpin of this State, were chosen to conduct the undertaking.—The first dividend of the money was paid in on the 15th of this month; and the work is to be begun the first of next, in those parts which require least skill, leaving the more difficult ’till an Engineer of abilities and practical knowledge can be obtained; which reminds me of the question which I propounded to you in my last, on this subject, and on which I should be glad to learn your sentiments. This prospect, if it succeeds, and of which I have no doubt, will bring the Atlantic States and the Western Territory into close connexion, and be productive of very extensive commercial and political consequences; the last of which gave the spur to my exertions, as I could foresee many, and great mischiefs which would naturally result from a separation—and that a separation would inevitably take place, if the obstructions between the two countries remained, and the navigation of the Mississippi should be made free.
I stand indebted to you for your favors of the 3d, 7th, and 29th of last month, and feel myself exceedingly obliged to your Excellency for the communications and enclosures therein.—
Great Britain, in her commercial policy is acting the same unwise part, with respect to herself, which seems to have influenced all her councils; and thereby is defeating her own ends:—the restriction of our trade, and her heavy imposts on the staple commodities of this country, will I conceive, immediately produce powers in Congress to regulate the Trade of the Union; which, more than probably would not have been obtained without in half a century. The mercantile interests of the whole Union are endeavoring to effect this, & will no doubt succeed; they see the necessity of a controuling power, and the futility, indeed the absurdity, of each State’s enacting Laws for this purpose independant of one another.—This will be the case also, after a while, in all matters of common concern;—It is to be regretted, I confess, that Democratical States must always feel before they can see:—it is this that makes their Governments slow—but the people will be right at last.—
It gives me pleasure to find that an Ordinance of Congress has passed respecting the Western Territory.—A little longer delay of this business, and I believe the country would have been settled, maugre, all that could have been done to prevent it; as it is, I am not clear that the same respect will be paid now to this Ordinance, which would have been at an earlier period, before men began to speculate in Lands No. West of the Ohio, and to obtrude themselves thereon.
Congress after long deliberation,—have at length agreed upon a mode for disposing of the Lands of the United States in the Western territory:—it may be a good one, but it does not comport with my ideas.—The ordinance is long, and I have none of them by me, or I would send one for your perusal.—They seem in this instance, as in almost every other, to be surrendering the little power they have, to the States individually which gave it to them.—Many think the price which they have fixed upon the Lands too high;—and all to the Southward I believe, that disposing of these in Townships, and by square miles alternately, will be a great let to the sale:—but experience, to which there is an appeal, must decide.
From the general tenor of my letters from very respectable characters in France, I think it most likely that the dispute between the Emperor and Holland will be settled without bloodshed, and that the former will hardly be able to effect the exchange of his Northerland Dominions for the Dutchy of Bavaria, among other reasons because the Duke de Deux Ponts, nephew and heir to the Elector, is opposed thereto: but notwithstanding that the state of politics, and temper of some of the formidable Powers of Europe are such as to place War at no remote distance.
Soon after I had written to you in Feby., Mr. Jefferson, and after him Mr. Carmichael informed me that in consequence of an application from Mr. Harrison for permission to export a Jack for me from Spain, his Catholic Majesty had ordered two of the first race in his Kingdom (lest an accident might happen to one) to be purchased and presented to me as a mark of his esteem.—Such an instance of condescension and attention from a crowned head is very flattering and lays me under great obligation to the King; but neither of them is yet arrived:—these I presume are the two mentioned in your favor of the 16th of April; one as having been shipped from Cadiz—the other as expected from the Isle of Malta, which you would forward.—As they have been purchased since December last, I began to be apprehensive of accidents; which I wish may not. In the case with respect to the one from Cadiz, if he was actually shipped at the time of your account:—should the other pass thro’ your hands you cannot oblige me more, than by requiring the greatest care, & most particular attention to be paid to him. I have long endeavored to procure one of a good size and breed, but had little expectation of receiving two as a royal gift.—
I have just parted with Mr. and Mrs. Macaulay Graham, who after a stay of about ten days, left this in order to embark for England, from New York; I am obliged to you for introducing a Lady to me whose reputation among the literati is so high, and whose principles are so much and so justly admired by the friends of liberty and of mankind.—it gave me pleasure to find that her sentiments respecting the inadequacy of the powers of Congress, as also those of Doctr. Price’s, coincide with my own; experience evinces the truth of these observations, and the late movement of the mercantile interest exhibits a recent proof of the conviction it is working in the popular mind, but it is unfortunate for us, that evils which might have been averted, must be first felt, and our national character for wisdom, justice and temperance, suffer in the eyes of the world, before we can guide the political machine as it ought to be. * * *
I am much obliged to you my dear Marquis, for your attention to the Hounds, & not less sorry that you should have met the smallest difficulty, or experienced the least trouble in obtaining them: I was no way anxious about these, consequently should have felt no regret, or sustained no loss if you had not succeeded in your application.—I have commissioned three or four persons (among whom Colo. Marshall is one) to procure for me in Kentucke, for the use of the King’s Gardens at Versailles or elsewhere, the seeds mentioned in the list you sent me from New York, and such others as are curious, and will forward them as soon as they come to my hands: which cannot be ’till after the growing crop has given its seeds.
I am, &c.
My best wishes will accompany you to Potsdam, and into the Austrian’s Dominions whenever you set out upon that tour. As an unobserved spectator, I should like to take a peep at the troops of those Monarch’s at their manœuverings, upon a grand field day; but as it is among the unattainable things, my philosophy shall supply the place of curiosity, and set my mind at ease.