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Patrick Henry to Benjamin Harrison, May 25, 1779

Sir: May 25. 1779.

A certain Zechariah Snead was detected going secretly to the British Flag Vessels, and being examined, and found to lay under very strong suspicions of disaffection, has been ordered to goal. A few days ago a person calling herself Letitia Fitzgerald appeared in this city; her husband, she pretends, is the eldest son of the Duke of Leinster, was apprehended in the Nansemond County and was under examination for treasonable practices, when the enemy entered Suffolk and released him. A great variety of circumstances concur to induce a belief that this is a dangerous woman, and that she came hither with some wicked intention. She was therefore sent to goal also.


The Executive having in these two instances exercised a power not expressly given them by law, I take this method of informing the legislature of it, and have only to add, that apprehension for the public safety is the sole reason for the proceeding.


I am, Sir, Your most humble servant,


P. Henry. Hon'ble Benjamin Harrison. Speaker of the Ho. of Delegates.

Printed in William Wirt Henry, Patrick Henry: Life, Correspondence, and Speeches (1891), 3: 242.