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If the choice of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army had been made on the basis of ability, genius, military experience, erudition, ardor for the cause of liberty, or for a combination of these qualities, this crucial appointment would have gone not to Washington but to one Charles Lee. But political considerations ruled, and Lee, a native of Britain, had no political base. Mere merit was submerged, though some delegates did favor Lee for the job.
George Washington and Charles Lee: No greater contrast could be found in their confrontation, and no more fateful choice of appointment could have been made, a decision which would bear heavily on the future course of the history of the United States. Washington, a halfeducated, blunt, practical man, a highly conservative landed oligarch of Virginia, orthodox in his military and political views, a loser in his few previous battles, longed to become the head of a regular state army on the conventional European model. Lee, a brilliant, articulate, learned, dédassé, English intellectual, an ardent, witty, pungent individualist, personally and politically dedicated to liberty and deeply influenced by libertarian thought, an authentic military genius, had seen a great deal of fighting on the European model and saw its deficiencies for the American scene. It was almost inevitable that two such deeply contrasting figures (Lee was chosen by Congress as third in command of the army, after Washington and Ward) would come to an irreparable clash. That clash came to pass, and since the seemingly inescapable verdict of history was to give the victory to Washington, Lee sank into disgrace and oblivion from which historians are only now beginning to rescue him.*
www.mises.ch... page 34
IN NOVEMBER 1774, A PAMPHLET ADDRESSED TO THE PEOPLE of America was published in Philadelphia and reprinted in other major cities in the colonies and in London. It forcefully articulated American rights and liberties and allayed the fears of many colonists of British military power. The pamphlet contended that the crisis that had unfolded between Britain and America since the end of the French and Indian War in 1763 was not simply a dispute between a mother country and her colonies. Instead, it was part of the ongoing universal struggle for human freedom. To further their cause, Americans needed to stand together, prepared to declare and fight for their independence. The pamphlet’s author assured his readers that by emancipating themselves from Britain’s imperial shackles, Americans would inspire people who suffer under tyrannical governments to “demolish those badges of slavery” that stifle the natural human aspiration to be free. The author of this radical and strikingly optimistic pamphlet was not Thomas Paine— nor was it John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or Benjamin Franklin. It was Charles Lee, a former British army officer turned revolutionary, a man who became one of the earliest supporters of American independence and who served as George Washington’s second-in-command and military confidant during the early years of the Revolution. Lee fought on and off the battlefield for expanded democracy, freedom of conscience, individual liberties, human rights, and for the formal education of women. While many revolutionaries shared Lee’s commitment to independence, few shared his radical outlook. Fewer still shared his confidence that the American Revolution should be waged— and could be won— primarily by militia (or irregulars) rather than with a centralized regular army.
Papas, Phillip (2014-04-11). Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee (Kindle Locations 71-83). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.
He frequented the city’s coffeehouses, taverns, inns, and salons and engaged in political debates and discussions with intellectuals and politicians such as Catherine Macaulay, Irish statesman and MP Edmund Burke, and Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Papas, Phillip (2014-04-11). Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of General Charles Lee (Kindle Locations 1284-1285). NYU Press. Kindle Edition.