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bequeathed him by his father rendered the study of a profession unnecessary, ar.d he accordingly surrendered himself, for several years, to the enjoymen: of literary ease and social intercourse. He possessed, however an active mind, and warmly interested himself in the advancement of his country. In 1765, he was returned a member of the House of Burgesses from the county of Loudon, where his estate was situated. He was annually re-elected to this office until 1772, when, having married a lady of Richmond county, he removed thither, and was soon after chosen by the citizens of that place to the same station.
In 1775, Mr. Lee was appointed by the Virginia Convention a delegate to the Continental Congress. He took his seat in this assembly; and, though he seldom engaged in the public discussions, was surpassed by none in his zeal to forward the interests of the colonies. His brother, Richard Henry Lee, had the high honor of bringing forward the momentous question of independence, but no one was perhaps a warmer friend of the measure than Francis Lightfoot.
Mr. Lee retired from Congress in 1779. He was fondly attached to the pleasures of home, and eagerly sought an opportunity when his services were not essentially needed by his country, to resume the undis turbed quiet of his former life. He was not long permitted to enjoy his seclusion. He reluctantly obeyed the summons of his fellow citizens to represent them once more in the Legislature of Virginia. His duties were most faithfully discharged while a member of this body; but he soon became weary of the bustle and vexations of public life, and relinquished them for the pleasures of retirement. In the latter period of his life, he found an unfailing source of happiness to himself, in contributing largely to the enjoyment of others. His benevolence and the urbanity of his manners rendered him beloved by all. He was a practical friend to the poor, and a companion to the young or the aged, the lighthearted. or the broken in spirit. Having no children, he devoted his time chiefly to reading, farming, and company. His death was occasioned by a pleurisy, which disease also terminated the life of his wife a few days after his own departure. He died in the consoling belief of the Gospel, and in peace with all mankind and his own conscience.
The brothers of Mr. Lee were all eminently distinguished for their talents and for their services to their country. Philip Ludwell, a member of the King's Council; Thomas Ludwell, a member of the Virginia Assembly; Richard Henry, as the champion of American freedom; William, as a sheriff and alderman of London, and afterwards a Commissioner of the Continental Congress at the courts of Berlin and Vienna; and Arthur as a scholar, a politician, and diplomatist.
RICHARD HENRY LEE.
RICHARD HENRY LEE, a brother of the foregoing, was born at Stratford, in Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 20th of January, 1732. He received his education in England, where his acquisitions were considerable in scientific and classical knowledge. He returned to his native country when in his nineteenth year, and devoted himself to the general study of history, politics, law, and polite literature, without engaging in any particular profession.
About the year 1757, he was chosen a Delegate to the House of Burgesses, where a natural diffidence for some time prevented him from displaying the full extent of his powers and resources. This impediment, however, was gradually removed, and he rapidly rose into notice as a persuasive and eloquent speaker. In 1764, he was appointed to draught an address to the King, and a memorial to the House of Lords, which are among the best state papers of the period. Some years afterwards, he brought forward his celebrated plan for the formation of a committee of correspondence, whose object was "to watch the conduct of the British Parliament; to spread more widely correct information on topics connected with the interests of the colonies, and to form a chosen union of the men of influence in each." This plan was originated about the same time in Massachusetts, by Samuel Adams.
The efforts of Mr. Lee in resisting the various encroachments of the British government were indefatigable, and in 1774 he attended the first General Congress at Philadelphia, as a delegate from Virginia. He was a member of most of the important committees of this body, and labored with unceasing vigilance and energy. The memorial of Congress to the people of British America, and the second address of Congress to the people of Great Britain, were both from his pen. The following year, he was again deputed to represent Virginia in the same assembly, and his exertions were equally zealous and successful. Among other responsible duties, he was appointed, as chairman of a committee, to furnish General Washington, who had been summoned to the command of the American armies, with his commission and instructions.
On the 7th of June, 1776, Mr. Lee introduced the measure, which declared, "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 connexion between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." This important motion he supported by a speech of the most brilliant eloquence. "Why then, Sir," said he, in conclusion, "why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to re-establish the reign of peace and of law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon ; she demands of us a living example of freedom, that may exhibit a ntrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever increasing tyranny which olates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum, ere the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repose. She
invites us to cultivate a propitious soil, where that generous plant which first sprung up and grew in England, but is now withered by the poisonous blasts of Scottish tyranny, may revive and flourish, sheltering under its salubrious and interminable shade, all the unfortunate of the human race. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American legislators of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of Theseus, Lycurgus, and Romulus, of the three Williams of Nassau, and of all those whose memory has been, and ever will be, dear to virtuous men and good citizens."
The debate on the above motion of Mr. Lee, was protracted until the tenth of June, when Congress resolved: "that the consideration of the resolution respecting Independence, be postponed till the first Monday in July next; and in the meanwhile, that no time may be lost, in case the Congress agree thereto, that a committee be appointed to pre pare a declaration to the effect of the said resolution."
As the mover of the original resolution for Independence, it would, according to parliamentary usage, have devolved upon Mr. Lee to have been appointed chairman of the Committee selected to prepare a declaration, and, as chairman, to have furnished that important document. the day on which the resolution was taken, Mr. Lee was unexpectedly summoned to attend upon his family in Virginia, some of the members of which were dangerously ill; and Mr. Jefferson was appointed chairman in his place.
Mr. Lee continued to hold a seat in Congress till June, 1777, when he solicited leave of absence, on account of the delicate state of his health. In August, of the next year, he was again elected to Congress, and continued in that body till 1780, when he declined a re-election, believing that he would be more useful to his native State by holding a seat in her Assembly. In 1784, however, he again accepted an appointment as representative to Congress, of which body he was unanimously elected President. In this exalted station, he presided with great ability; and on his retirement, received the acknowledgments of Congress.
Mr. Lee was opposed to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, without amendment. Its tendency, he believed, was to consolidation. To guard against this, it was his wish that the respective States should impart to the Federal Head only so much power as was necessary for mutual safety and happiness. He was appointed a Senator from Virginia, under the new Constitution.
About the year 1792, Mr. Lee was compelled, by his bodily debility and infirmities, to retire wholly from public business. Not long after, he had the pleasure of receiving from the Legislature of his native State, an unanimous vote of thanks for his public services, and of sympathy for the impaired condition of his health. He died on the 19th of June, 1794, at the age of sixty-three years.
In private life, Mr. Lee was the delight of all who knew him. He had a numerous family of children, the offspring of two marriages, who were tenderly devoted to their father. As an orator, he exercised an uncommon sway over the minds of men. His gesture was graceful and highly finished, and his language perfectly chaste. He reasoned well.
and declaimed freely and splendidly; and such was his promptitude, that he required no preparation for debate. He was well acquainted with classical literature, and possessed a rich store of political knowledge. Few men have passed through life in a more honorable and brilliant manner, or left behind them a more desirable reputation, than Richard Henry Lee.
FRANCIS LEWIS was a native of Landaff, in South Wales, where he was born in the year 1713. Being left an orphan at the age of four or five years, the care of him devolved upon a maiden aunt, who took singular pains to instruct him in the native language of his country. He was afterwards sent to Scotland, where, in the family of a relation, he acquired a knowledge of the Gaelic. From this he was transferred to the school of Westminster, where he completed his education; and enjoyed the reputation of being a good classical scholar.
Having determined on the pursuit of commerce, he entered the counting-room of a London merchant, and in few years acquired a competent knowledge of his profession. On attaining the age of twentyone years, he converted the whole of his property into merchandise, and sailed for New York, where he arrived in the spring of 1735. Leaving a part of his goods to be disposed of by Mr. Edward Annesly, with whom he had formed a commercial connexion, he transported the remainder to Philadelphia. After a residence of two years in the latter city, he returned to New York, and there became extensively engaged in navigation and foreign trade. He married the sister of his partner, by whom he had several children.
Mr. Lewis acquired the character of an active and enterprising mer chant. In the course of his commercial transactions, he visited several of the sea-ports of Russia, the Orkney and Shetland islands, and was twice shipwrecked on the Irish coast.
During the French or Canadian war, he was agent for supplying the British troops, and was present, in 1756, at the surrender of Fort Oswego to the French general, de Montcalm. He exhibited great firmness and ability on the occasion; and his services were held in such consideration by the British Government, that at the close of the war he received a grant of five thousand acres of land.
The conditions upon which the garrison at Fort Oswego surrendered, were shamefully violated by de Montcalm. He allowed the chief warrior of the Indians, who assisted in taking the fort, to select about thirty of the prisoners, and do with them as he pleased. Of this number Mr. Lewis was one. Thus placed at the disposal of savage power, a speedy death was one of the least evils to be expected. It has been asserted, however, that Mr. Lewis discovered that he was able to converse with the Indians, by reason of the similarity of the ancient language of
Wales, which he understood, to their dialect. His ability to communicate by words with the Chief, so pleased the latter, that he treated him kindly, and on arriving at Montreal, requested the French Governor to allow him to return to his family without ransom. The request, however, was not granted, and Mr. Lewis was sent as a prisoner to France, from which country, being some time after exchanged, he returned to America.
Although Mr. Lewis was not a native of America, yet his attachment to the country was early and devoted. He vigorously opposed the oppressive measures of Great Britain, and esteemed liberty the choicest blessing that a nation can enjoy. His intellectual powers, and uniform nobility of sentiment, commanded the respect of the people; and in 1775, he was unanimously elected a delegate to Congress. He remained a member of that body through the following year, 1776, and was among the number who signed the Declaration of Independence. For several subsequent years, he was appointed to represent New York in the National Assembly; and performed various secret and important services, with great fidelity and prudence.
In 1775, Mr. Lewis removed his family, and effects, to a country-seat which he owned on Long Island. This proved an unfortunate step. In the autumn of the following year, his house was plundered by a party of British light-horse. His extensive library and valuable papers were wantonly destroyed. His wife fell into the power of the enemy, and was retained a prisoner for several months. During her captivity, she experienced the most atrocious treatment, being closely confined, and deprived of a bed and sufficient clothing. By the influence of Washington, she was at length released; but her constitution had been so impaired by her sufferings, that in a year or two, she sank into the grave. The latter days of Mr. Lewis were spent in comparative poverty. He died on the 30th day of December, 1803, in the ninetieth year of his age.
PHILIP LIVINGSTON, was born at Albany, on the 15th of January, 1716. He was the fourth son of Gilbert Livingston, and his ancestors were highly respectable, holding a distinguished rank in New York, and possessing a beautiful tract of land on the banks of the Hudson. This tract, since known as the Manor of Livingston, has belonged to the family from that time to the present.
Philip Livingston received his education at Yale College, where he was graduated in 1737. He soon after engaged extensively in commerce in
It is almost needless to remark, that such an occurrence is, to say the best of it, extremely improbable. There exists no affinity between the ancient language of Waies and that of any of the Indian tribes known in North America.