Stratford Hall

Stratford
VA

Stratford Hall, Home of the Lees of Virginia

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QUICK FACTS
  • Stratford Hall has 8 chimneys, 16 fireplaces, and 18 rooms.
  • The house has paintings in nearly every room, and though many are copies, there are several originals of the family by Matthew Pratt; one of Marquis de Lafayette by Charles Peale Polk; and one of Henry Lee after Gilbert Stuart.
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Built by Thomas Lee in the late 1730s, Stratford was home to six sons and two daughters. The eldest, Phillip Ludwell Lee, Sr., inherited Stratford Hall. The other five sons — Richard Henry, Francis Lightfoot, Thomas Ludwell, William, and Arthur — served in various ways during the Revolution.

Henry Light Horse Harry Lee, who fought with General Washington in the Continental Army, lived at Stratford Hall when he married Phillip’s daughter, Matilda. He was also the father of Robert E. Lee, the future confederate general during the Civil War.

According to the mission statement, Stratford Hall preserves the legacy of the Lee family and its plantation community, inspires an appreciation of America’s past, and encourages commitment to the ideals of leadership,honor, independent thought and civic responsibility. Currently it works to preserve the house as it was during the years that Henry and Matilda Lee lived there.

Furnished with an outstanding collection of predominantly 18th-century American and English decorative arts, the 1,900-acre site includes nature trails, a gristmill, formal gardens, and reconstructed slave quarters. Overnight lodging is also available.

[Of those opposed to slavery,] George Washington belonged, with Mason and Jefferson, in the hardest category — disapproving owners. Theirs was the most difficult position to maintain, psychologically and rhetorically. It would not be maintained over the next sixty years, as southern antislavery rhetoric withered. Practically and politically, disapproving owners were in the hardest position from which to achieve their goals. How do you weaken an institution in which you and all your neighbors are enmeshed? Washington did enough, finally, to free his own slaves, which was more than many owners in his position did. Jefferson never freed all his, nor did any of the other slave-owning presidents.

Richard Brookhiser
Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996)