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DEAR SIR : For the several facts relative to the transactions of the HANOVERWilliamsburg, and his answer to it also, to prove the contrary. Why does he promise to return it in half an hour ? And again what powder was he to return, or did he take ? I answer the powder mentioned in the address; to wit, that which was provided for the safety of the Colony, and for the loss of which Williamsburg was so much alarmed. But I ask, suppose it was the King s, what right had any one to deposit it in the magazine, built expressly for the purpose of receiving such ammunition as was at any time necessary for our safety ? His Majesty can have no right to convert the houses, or other conveniences necessary for our defence, into repositories for engines of our destruction. So that the presumption is, that the powder being there it was ours. It was a trespass to open that place for the reception of any other. Add to this what is contained in his lordship's answer referred to above, and no doubt can remain but that the pretence of the Crown having a property in it is a quibble. For the sake of the public tranquility, as well as of justice, I chose to be active in making the reprisal. And having designedly referred to the Convention whether any of the money ought to be returned, lest presuming too much might be alleged against me, I trouble you, sir, with this, to be an advocate for the measure if you think it right. I suppose my attendance at the Congress may prevent me from being present at the Convention, where perhaps an attempt may be made to condemn the measure and misrepresent my conduct. I trust that the moderation and justice of the proceeding will fully appear from a great variety of circumstances. And that my countrymen will support me in it, especially when we consider the hostilities to the Northward would have justified much greater reprisals, which I chose to decline as the Convention might probably so soon meet. To the collective body of my country I chose to submit my conduct, and have to beg you will excuse the trouble I have given you by this long letter. I only mean to beg your attention to the subject, that you may not be surprised at some objections against my proceedings, which I fear will be made by some gentle men from below.
Will you be so good as to excuse inaccuracies? Hurry obliges me to use the pen of a young man to transcribe. The few reasons intimated above are in deed unnecessary to you, whose better judgment is able to inform me. You will readily perceive the absurdity of the pretence, that the King can have a property in anything distinct from his people, and how dangerous is the position that his protection (for which we have already paid him) may be with drawn at pleasure. If any doubt remains as to the fitness of the step I have taken, can it lay over until I am heard ? I can mention many facts which I am sure will abundantly warrant what is done. Wishing you every good thing, I remain with sentiments of the highest and most perfect esteem and regard,
To FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE, ESQ.
- Patrick Henry