Papers of John Adams, volume 6

To Samuel Adams

From William MacCreery

From Arthur Lee, 7 August 1778 Lee, Arthur JA


From Arthur Lee, 7 August 1778 Lee, Arthur Adams, John
From Arthur Lee
Chaillot 7th. Augst. 1778

Mr. Lee's compliments to Mr. Adams. Mr. Lee has over and over again written to Mr. Williams that the Letters shoud be delivered to him whenever he chose to call, At Mr. Lee's house and receive them, which he has refused in very indecent terms. It is this and this only that has prevented him from having them, for I have Mr. Lee has constantly left them out to be delivered to him when I He went out myself himself nor has he furnished any one of those things that I have Mr. Lee has required of him for near two months relative to the public accounts. He seems to me him to be making experiments how much he can provoke me him by every impertinence he can devise.1


RC (Adams Papers).


Lee's anger was probably aroused by Jonathan Williams' letter to Lee of 6 Aug., which climaxed an increasingly bitter correspondence over Williams' accounts (see Williams to Lee of 31 July; 5 4, 6 Aug.; and Lee to Williams of 30 July and 5 Aug.; all ViU: Lee Papers).

Lee held a number of letters from Silas Deane to Williams regarding his conduct as the American commercial agent at Nantes. According to Williams, he had originally sent those letters to JA, who had then, without Williams' knowledge, given them to Lee. Although Lee implies that Williams had made no effort to regain the letters, Lee had in fact refused to deliver them when Williams had sent his servant for them on 5 Aug.

Another source of conflict between the two men was Williams' refusal to surrender his vouchers for expenditures made at Nantes, for which Lee claimed he had been waiting “for near two months.” The refusal, according to Williams, came from his fear that they might share the fate of the letters already in Lee's possession and thus make impossible any defense against such charges as might be leveled at him.