Richard Henry Lee


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Richard Henry LeeLee, RICHARD HENRY, statesman; born in Stratford, Westmoreland county, Virginia., Jan. 20, 1732; was educated in England, and returned to America at the age of nineteen. In 1756 he was appointed justice of the peace, and entered the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1757, where he was distinguished as a debater and a clear political writer. Mr. Lee supported Patrick Henry's resolutions, and was among the foremost men in Virginia in forming and putting in motion the machinery against royal oppression and parliamentary rule. He was a delegate to the first Congress (1774), was a member of all the leading committees, and wrote the memorial of Congress to the people of British America. In 1775 he wrote the second address of Congress to the people of Great Britain; and from his seat in that body, in June, 1776, he offered the famous resolution which declared the English-American colonies to be "free and independent States." It is said that his speech on that occasion was a brilliant display of eloquence. Leaving Congress in June, 1777, he was again in that body in 1778-80, 1784-85, and 1786-87. In 1784 he was chosen president of Congress, but retired at the end of the year. Mr. Lee was opposed to the national Constitution, because it superseded State supremacy, but he was a supporter of Washington's administration, and was United States Senator from Virginia from 1789 to 1792. He died in Chantilly, Virginia, June 19, 1794.



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