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.

Virtually all modern accounts of the Revolution begin in 1763 with the Peace of Paris, the great treaty that concluded the Seven Years’ War. Opening the story there, however, makes the imperial events and conflicts that followed the war — the controversy over the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act crisis — into precursors of the Revolution. No matter how strenuous their other disagreements, most modern historians have looked at the years after 1763 not as contemporary Americans and Britons saw them — as a postwar era vexed by the unanticipated problems in relations between the colonies and metropolis — but as what we in retrospect know those years to have been, a pre-Revolutionary period. By sneaking glances, in effect, at what was coming next, historians robbed their accounts of contingency and suggested, less by design than by inadvertence, that the independence and nationhood of the United States were somehow inevitable.

Fred Anderson
Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754 - 1766 (2000)