The Signers Francis Lightfoot Lee

Francis Lightfoot Lee


Francis Lightfoot Lee was the mild-mannered and least political member of a wealthy and often aggressive family that included his brother and fellow signer Richard Henry Lee. Nevertheless, Francis served in Virginia's House of Burgesses from 1758 to 1775 and joined various associations and committees that protested British heavy-handedness.

As a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1779, Francis supported the resolution for independence introduced by his brother. He was especially active on the Board of War, devoting much attention to the procurement of supplies for the Continental Army.

Lee's congressional career was shortened by a controversy that divided the revolutionary leadership. In the American mission to France a dispute arose between Lee's brothers Arthur and William, on the one hand, and Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin, on the other, over the handling of funds given to the American cause. Richard Henry and Francis defended their brothers in Congress, but the tide of the debate turned against them. When the appointments of Arthur and William were vacated, Richard Henry and Francis resigned their seats in Congress. Later, Francis served a single term in the Virginia Senate before retiring from public life.

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