A politician and arch revolutionary, Richard Henry Lee was an impassioned supporter of American independence from the mid-1760s. Born into one of the most prominent families in the colony on January 20, 1732, Lee was bred to a political life, serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses during the Stamp Act and Non-importation crises, helping convey his state into the revolutionary camp. As a delegate to the Continental Congress, Lee was the first to officially move that a declaration of independence be drafted, and he ended his public career as a principled opponent of ratification of the Constitution and as Virginia's first U.S. Senator. He died at home in Virginia in June 1794.
A small, but highly valuable collection, the papers of Richard Henry Lee document the political life and activities of one of the most ardent revolutionaries in Virginia. The 0.5 linear feet of letters (193 items), most addressed to Lee, are an important resource for study of pre-Revolutionary political agitation in Virginia, the increasing connections forged between the colonies, and the political course of the war. To a lesser degree the collection documents Lee's late-life anti-federalism. Among the major correspondents are Lee's brothers Arthur and William, and such leaders in the revolutionary cause as George Washington, Samuel Adams, Charles Lee, John Adams, and Thomas Paine.