Lee, Richard Henry

Richard Henry Lee

b. 20/31 Jan 1733, Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia [1]
d. 19 Jun 1794, Chantilly, Westmoreland County, Virginia

Title: President of Congress
Term: 30 Nov 1784 - 6 Nov 1785
Chronology: 30 Nov 1784, elected to the office of the President of Congress, session of Congress, French Arms Tavern, Trenton, New Jersey [2]
6 Nov 1785, term of delegate (and subsequently as the President of Congress) is deemed to have expired upon convening of a new Congress [3]
Biography:
After a course of private instruction, he attended Wakefield Academy in England; returned to Virginia in 1751; held the office of justice of the peace for Westmoreland County (1757) and was a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia (1758-1775); was elected a delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress (1774-1779); offered a resolution "that these colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states" (7 Jun 1776); was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and author of the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation issued by Congress 31 Oct 1777; returned to Virginian politics in 1777, when he became a member of the State House of Delegates (1777, 1780, 1785) and also served as colonel of the Westmoreland Militia; served again as a delegate from Virginia to the Continental Congress (1784-1788); was elected the President of Congress 30 Nov 1784 at the session convened in Trenton, New Jersey; after less than a month, the Congress adjourned on 24 Dec 1784 and convened again in New York 11 Jan 1785; during his term as President, the Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785, which divided the northwest territories into townships; one of the most violent critics of federalism, he participated in the Virginia convention which ratified the Federal Constitution (1788); was elected to the U.S. Senate and served from 4 Mar 1789 until his resignation on 8 Oct 1792; served as President pro tempore of the Senate (18 Apr 1792 - 5 Nov 1792) during the Second Congress.
Biographical sources: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (2005); "Richard Henry Lee, Statesman of the Revolution: Statesman of the Revolution", by Oliver Perry Chitwood (West Virginia University Library, 1967); "The Lees of Virginia: Seven Generations of an American Family", by Paul C. Nagel (Oxford University Press US, 1992).

[1] "Next in the order of age came Richard Henry, who was born January 31, 1733. All the modern authorities examined in this study give 1732 as the year of Richard Henry's birth, but according to the record in the Lee family Bible, 1733 is the correct date." ["Richard Henry Lee, Statesman of the Revolution: Statesman of the Revolution", op. cit., p. 7] See also "The Lees of Virginia: Seven Generations of an American Family", op. cit., p. viii.
[2] Journals of the Continental Congress, 27:649.
[3] Journals of the Continental Congress, 29:872.
Image: portrait of Richard Henry Lee by Charles Willson Peale (1784)
Last updated on: 17 Jul 2009 01:41:47