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.

By 1789 many of the Federalists, particularly Hamilton, had no confidence whatsoever left in the virtue or the natural sociability of the American people as adhesive forces: to rely on such wild schemes and visionary principles, as radicals like Jefferson and Paine did, to tie the United States together, the Federalists said, was to rely on nothing. Hence Hamilton and the other Federalist leaders had to find things other than republican virtue and natural sociability to make the American people a single nation.

Tying people together, creating social cohesiveness, making a single nation out of disparate sections and communities without relying on idealistic republican adhesives — this was the preoccupation of the Federalists, and it explains much of what they did — from Washington’s proposals for building canals to Hamilton’s financial program.

Gordon S. Wood
The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States (2011)