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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 811-811.7

Arthur Lee papers


Correspondence and other documents of the American politician and diplomat Arthur Lee.


  • 1741-1882
  • Majority of material found within 1766-1787

Language of Materials

Materials in English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


4.5 linear feet (12 boxes and 1 folder)
Collection reflects American diplomatic, political, and military affairs primarily during the American Revolution. The bulk is correspondence, mostly letters to Lee, but the collection also contains depositions and petitions concerning colonial disputes and the fighting in Lexington and Concord; resolutions; statements and testimonies on the condition of prisoners and the confiscation of ships; drafts and plans of treaties; addresses on the barbarity of the enemy and other subjects; army orders; manuscripts including a report on American commerce, Lee's memoirs of the American Revolution, and notes on politics and war; memos, accounts, promissory notes, and receipts pertaining to diplomatic and war expenses; and legal documents including Lee's will. Includes instructions from the Continental Congress on making a treaty with France and later, with the Indians of North America. Some official documents are copies.

Biographical / Historical

Lee was an American diplomat, politician, and political writer. He, along with Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin, was appointed Commissioner to France by the Continental Congress (1776) in order to negotiate a treaty and solicit aid. Lee also sought aid in Spain and Germany and served in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Continental Congress (1781-1784).


Arranged in call-number order:
  1. I. bMS Am 811
  2. II. bMS Am 811.1
  3. III. bMS Am 811.2
  4. IV. bMS Am 811.3
  5. V. bMS Am 811.4
  6. VI. bMS Am 811.5
  7. VII. bMS Am 811.6
  8. VIII. bMS Am 811.7
Please note that item numbers 238-239 were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid.

Physical Location

b, pf

Immediate Source of Acquisition

No accession number. Gift of Richard Henry Lee; received: 1827.

See also: Calendar of the Arthur Lee Manuscripts in the Library of Harvard University. Cambridge, Mass.: University Press, John Winsor and Son, 1882.

Processing Information

Reformatted by Bonnie B. Salt, 2015.
Link to catalog
Lee, Arthur, 1740-1792. Arthur Lee papers, 1741-1882: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, literary and performing arts archives, and more. The library's holdings of primary source material are managed by an expert staff and shared with scholars, students and the public in the reading room.

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