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 Richard Henry Lee

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Richard Henry Lee

  • Birth 20 Jan 1732 Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA
  • Death 19 Jun 1794 Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA
  • Burial Coles Point, Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 1168

Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Virginia; and one of the only pair of brothers (see also Francis Lightfoot Lee) to sign the Declaration of Independence. He was also the brother of General "Lighthorse Harry" Lee of Revolutionary War fame, and the uncle of Civil War Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Born at Stratford, Virginia, he was the seventh child of eleven (while some scholars believe he was born in 1732, the family Bible states that he was born in January 1733). After being home tutored, he was sent to England at age 11 to be formally taught, eventually returning to Virginia when he was 18. When Richard was in his mid-20s he married Anne Aylette, and they would have four children. He established a plantation, called Chantilly, on the Potomac River, becoming a gentleman farmer. In 1768, he had a hunting accident that blew four fingers off his hand, and in December 1768, his wife, Anne, died. He would later marry Anne Pinckard, with whom he had another five children. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses (the state legislature), where he served from 1758 until 1776. He was especially active in Virginia's campaign of resistance to the hated Stamp Act and Townshend Acts. In 1774, Lee was a delegate to the First Continental Congress, and initially, he favored a policy of economic boycott to bring the British to reason in their colonial policies. But he began to change his mind when the King closed the port of Boston, and he began to think more and more of independence from Britain. In 1776, he obtained a resolution from the House of Burgesses to introduce into the Second Continental Congress that "these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown; and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." This resolution, introduced by Lee on June 7, 1776 into Congress, began the process that produced the Declaration of Independence. The Second Continental Congress approved the resolution on July 2, 1776. After the Revolutionary War, Lee served as President of Congress, from 1784 to 1785, under the Articles of Confederation, and thus, actually was President of the United States, although this title is now reserved for those who were elected under the Constitution. Lee supported the adoption of the US Constitution, and after it was adopted, Lee served as a Senator from Virginia from 1789 to 1792, when he resigned because of illness and injuries suffered in a carriage accident. His last effort as a senator was to give enthusiastic support for the adoption of a Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the US Constitution). Richard Henry Lee died at his home, Chantilly, Virginia, in 1794, in his early sixties.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1168
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Richard Henry Lee (20 Jan 1732–19 Jun 1794), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1168, citing Burnt House Fields, Lee Family Estate, Coles Point, Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .