Richard Henry Lee was a patriot, Anti-Federalist, and statesman from his “country,” Virginia. He led the charge for independence in 1776 and was a powerful figure in Virginia political life. He served one term as president of the Continental Congress and was elected a United States Senator from Virginia immediately after the ratification of the Constitution. His role in the founding period is often overlooked due to his “personality” and the slapstick characterization of him in the musical 1776. Lee was a Southern aristocrat, sometimes considered pompous and arrogant, but he was not a bumbling idiot. John Adams, in fact, called him a “masterly man,” though “tall and spare.” Excluding Lee from a list of Founding Fathers would be a travesty, for he was as important to the cause of independence as Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin.
Lee was descended from one of the oldest and most powerful families in Virginia. His great-grandfather, Richard Lee, was the first of the family to settle in Virginia and at one time served as the Attorney General and Secretary of State for the colony and was a member of the king’s council. His father, Thomas Lee, served in the Virginia
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