Buried at Burnt House Field Cemetery in Mount Pleasant, Virginia.
- Richard Henry Lee, son of Thomas Lee (1690 – 1750) and Hannah Harrison Ludwell (1701 – 50), is born into one of the most politically powerful families in Virginia. Three of his other (four) brothers will also play significant roles in American Revolution.
- Lee loses four fingers from his left hand in a hunting accident (1768); from then on he covers the injured hand in black silk, either with a glove or a handkerchief.
- He learns to incorporate the injury into his oratory: during speeches he rhetorically gestures with the silk draping from his hand.
That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved. That it is expedient to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.After debating the first of these resolutions for three days, Congress resolved that the further consideration of it should be postponed until the 1 July, but that a committee should be appointed to prepare a declaration of independence. The illness of Lee’s wife prevented him from being a member of that committee, but his first resolution was adopted on 2 July and the Declaration of Independence, prepared principally by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted two days later. Lee was in Congress from 1774 – 80, and was especially prominent in connection with foreign affairs. He was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1777, 1780 – 84, and 1786 – 87; was in Congress again from 1784 – 87, being president in 1784 – 86. Though strongly opposed to the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1789 — owing to what he regarded as its dangerous infringements upon the independent power of the states — Lee nevertheless accepted nomination as one of two Senators from Virginia in the hope of bringing about amendments. He proposed the Tenth Amendment in substantially the form in which it was adopted, and subsequently became a warm supporter of Washington’s administration. His prejudices against the Constitution were largely removed by seeing how it worked in practice. He retired from public life in 1792, and died at Chantilly, Westmoreland County, in 1794.
Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 ed.