Monday 2 July 2012

Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794)

Independence Day (for the USA) is coming, so as a sop to patriotism, I’ve got a 1776-filled post at the ready. This will not relate to Thomas Jefferson because 1) he was not named Richard and 2) I seriously dislike him. Just as I have an irrational love for some historical personages, I have an irrational dislike for others – TJ is in the latter category.

Richard Henry Lee was a representative from Virginia in the Second Continental Congress (also at the first, but we aren’t concerned with that). On 7 June 1776, Richard put forward a resolution calling for independence from Great Britain. The resolution read (in part):

Resolved: 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. *

·         See Wikipedia -

Later in June a committee was created to draft a document explaining why America wanted independence. Finally, on 2 July, Lee’s resolution was voted on, and independence was approved. The Declaration of Independence was approved two days later, on 4 July. Thus America’s Independence Day could easily have been the Second of July (although it doesn’t have the same ring).

Richard Henry Lee is certainly not the most famous of the Founding Fathers. Aside from suggesting independence, he was a senator in the 1790s, even serving as president pro tempore. My guess is that Lee is most famous now for being a character in the musical 1776. In this fine production, Lee sings a song entitled “The Lees of Old Virginia.” Although this song is technically about how Lee will convince the Virginia House of Burgesses to let him suggest independence, it’s memorable for its ridiculous overuse of adverbs. We get it, Richard – your last name is Lee, and you love adverbs because they also end in lee (-ly). The song is both annoying and amusing.   

Finally, Richard Henry is the great-uncle of Robert E. Lee, the famous Confederate general.

1 comment:

  1. Quilts and Dicks: my two favourite topics. Quirky blogs rock!