Arthur Lee


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(1740–92), member of the famous Virginia family, was educated at Eton and Edinburgh (M.D., 1764), practiced medicine at Williamsburg, and went to London (1768) to study law and prepare for his diplomatic career. In the Virginia Gazette (1768), he published The Monitor's Letters, which supplemented Dickinson's Letters from a Farmer, and he continued his literary contributions to the colonial cause in other letters and in An Appeal to the Justice and Interests of the People of Great Britain (1774) and A Second Appeal (1775). As a result of these pamphlets, he was appointed the London agent for Massachusetts (1770–75) and secret agent of the Continental Congress (1775). With Franklin and Silas Deane he was appointed (1776) to negotiate a treaty of alliance with France, and to solicit aid for the Revolution. Although they accomplished their ends, Lee and his colleagues were troubled by constant friction because his vivid imagination led him to accuse them of treason and fraud, when at worst they were guilty only of errors.


From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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