The Signers Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee
Charles Willson Peale
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution
gift of Duncan Lee and his son, Gavin Dunbar Lee

Richard Henry Lee


Lee was typical of those colonial gentry who made the journey from Loyalist to conservative Revolutionary. Throughout his career as a burgess in Virginia's General Assembly, member of Congress, and US senator, he was often found at the center of controversy. In response to instructions from the Virginia Convention, on June 7, 1776, Lee introduced in Congress the resolution for independence. He left for Williamsburg before adoption of the Declaration to help set up Virginia's new government and did not sign the engrossed copy until after returning to Philadelphia in late August. Later, poor health kept Lee away from constitutional conventions, but he subsequently authored an influential anti-federalist tract.

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