Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee was the sixth President of the United States in Congress assembled under the Articles of Confederation, holding office from November 30, 1784 to November 22, 1785. He was preceded in office by Thomas Mifflin and succeeded by John Hancock.

Lee was born in Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia on January 20, 1732. He was sent to England and educated at the academy of Wakefield in Yorkshire. In 1752 he returned to Virginia, where he began to practice law.

In 1757 he was appointed justice of the peace for Westmoreland County. In 1761 he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, where he remained until 1788. An early advocate of independence, he became one of the first to create Committees of Correspondence among the many independence-minded Americans in the various colonies.

In August, 1774, Lee was chosen as a delegate to the first Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1775 he became a Colonel of militia in Westmoreland County. It was Lee who put forth the motion in the Continental Congress to create a Declaration of Independence. Due to Lee's absence from the Congress because of his wife's illness, it was Thomas Jefferson who was chosen to write the Declaration.

He opposed creation of the United States Constitution as creating too powerful a central government. It was through his urgings that the Tenth Amendment, reserving all unlisted powers to the people, was created. Lee was elected by the people of Virginia to be one of their first two United States Senators, but he was forced to resign in 1792 due to ill health.

He died at his home, Chantilly, in Westmoreland County on June 19, 1794.

Biographical Facts

Other Political Offices