Letters of Delegates to Congress

From: Richard Henry Lee

To: Patrick Henry

Date: December 18, 1784


In his letter to Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee recaps the conflicts occurring between both Spain and Britain and the United States. He indicates the wishes of the two foreign powers to control large rivers used for navigation and, thus, control the trade of the area.

Original Text

The courts of Spain and London do not seem to be upon such cordial principles with the United States as we might wish, the former seeming to be intent upon possessing, with a strong hand, the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi, and the latter has actually encroached already upon our peace boundary on the river St. Croix, and they detain the western posts; assigning, for reason, that we have violated the peace by not repealing the laws that impede the recovery of British debts; the court of London seems also willing to injure its own possessions in the West Indies, rather than not wound our commerce with British Isles…

…This temper of the two courts will, however, produce the necessity of sending to each a well informed minister to negotiate commencing difficulties, and thereby prevent the evils of renewed war.


Richard Henry Lee emphasizes that these two conflicts will not be solved on their own and the United States could not be content with the situation as it stood. In order to solve these conflicts, and avoid another war, negotiations between ministers from the opposing countries were crucial.

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