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Henry Lee

Gov. Henry Lee

  • December 1, 1791 - December 1, 1794
  • Federalist
  • January 29, 1756
  • March 25, 1818
  • Virginia
  • College of New Jersey (now Princeton University)
  • Married twice--Matilda Lee (died); Anne Hill Carter; four children by his first marriage and five children by his second marriage
  • Representative
  • Army


Father of General Robert E. Lee, HENRY LEE was born at Leesylvania, in Prince William County, Virginia. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1773, and studied law briefly. Known as “Light Horse Harry” during his service as a lieutenant colonel in the Revolutionary War, he was a member of the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788, advocating adoption of the federal Constitution. He was elected by the state legislature to three one-year terms as governor of Virginia. As his third term was coming to an end, President Washington appointed him to command troops ordered to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania. He was appointed a Major General in the Army and later became a member of the Sixth Congress, serving from 1799 to 1801. He delivered George Washington’s memorial oration in Philadelphia on December 26, 1799, speaking the famous phrase “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.” While imprisoned for debt in 1808 and 1809, he wrote Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States. He spent several years in the West Indies, and died soon after returning to Cumberland Island, Georgia. He was buried there but reinterred at the Lee Mausoleum in Lexington, Virginia in 1913. Lee County, Virginia, formed in 1792, was named for Governor Henry Lee.


Garraty, John A. and Carnes, Mark C., eds. American National Biography, Vol. 13. New York, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1791-1794: Lee). Accession 40611. Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 3. New York: James T. White & Company.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Princeton University

Stratford Hall


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