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Richard Henry Lee 6th President of the United States of America - President Who? Forgotten Founders - By: Stanley L. Klos

Chapter Twelve

by: Stanley L. Klos   Published by Corporation

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In early April Richard Henry Lee updated the now retired Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, in this letter that summarized the Congressional events of his Presidency.

New York, April 18, 1785: I should before this have thanked you for your favour of March 15th, if I had not been in daily expectation that the arrival of the packets would bring us some intelligence from Europe worth communicating to you; the February packet has but just come in after a passage of eight weeks, and neither she or other vessels in short passages, bring us any thing interesting. War or peace in Europe, hangs yet in doubtful balance; both parties arming with assiduity, and nothing determined upon. Mr. John Adams, is sent plenipotentiary to the court of London, and Mr. Jefferson is the minister at Versailles, Dr. Franklin having leave, at his own request, to retire. Returning appearances of good humor, and a proposition first made by the British court, to treat of our differences in London, has induced hopes of an amicable adjustment of disputes. Mr. Gardoque is not arrived, but expected about the last of this month from the Havana, to which place he went from Spain previous to his coming here. If the commenced bickering between Madrid and London on the Musquito shore should go on, we may probably have easier work with both courts in our business with them.

I have the honor to enclose you the report of a respectable committee on the subject of selling the western lands, which has not yet been acted upon, though it speedily will. What changes may be made in this plan before it finally passes, cannot yet be told, but probably there will be some. Your idea of settling a state at a time, would most certainly be the wisest and the best, if the excessive rage for taking lands there could be possibly restrained. But really it seems that either Congress must sell quickly, or possession will be so taken as to render doubtful this fine fund for extinguishing the public debt. It has been impossible to get a vote for more than seven hundred men to garrison all the posts to be fixed in the trans-Alleghanian country, from north to south; a number very inadequate, I fear, to the purpose of even suppressing illegal trespasses upon the western lands. Our friend the Marquis La Fayette, arrived after a short passage, but I believe it was a very boisterous one. Your letter for Mr. Lee I sent after him to Virginia,

Whither he was returning before I received it. My best respects attend your lady.

Richard Henry Lee still plagued by the War debt turned once again to enact an Ordinance for the Northwest Territory to settle claims with the States. If passed these new federal holdings would provide Lee's government with vast lands to sell. Lee now firmly believed borrowing more foreign money was no longer prudent and he abhorred the movement to establish new federal taxes. It was the sale of these vast federal lands, he deduced, was the nation's only hope to pay off the war debt and adequately fund federal government. Lee wrote to his friend and colleague Samuel Adams on May 20th:

I hope we shall shortly finish our plan for disposing of the western Lands to discharge the oppressive public debt created by the war & I think that if this source of revenue be rightly managed, that these republics may soon be discharged from that state of oppression and distress that an indebted people must invariably feel

On May 20th, 1785 Richard Henry Lee's Congress enacted the Land Ordinance of 1785 for a small section of the Northwest Territory. The hope was that as the States and Indians relinquished their claims to the new lands that federal surveyors would be appointed to divide the territory into carefully planned individual square townships. Each side of the township square was to be six miles in length containing thirty-six square miles of territory. The township would then be divided into one-square mile sections, with each section receiving its own number and encompassing 640 acres. Section sixteen was to be set aside for a public schools and sections eight, eleven, twenty-six, and twenty-nine were to provide veterans of the American Revolution with land as payment for their service during the war thus greatly reducing the war debt. The government would then sell the remaining sections at public auction at the minimum bid of 640 dollars per section or one dollar for very acre of land in each section. Richard Henry Lee ardently believed this was a sound survey system for future development and that the income from these newly divided lands would settle the public debt and fund the Confederation government. This new survey system would expand from this small range in Ohio to the Pacific Ocean and later into Alaska as the United States expanded its borders in the next two centuries.

The first portion survey 18th Century survey system became known as the Seven Ranges in Ohio. The northern boundary was an east to west line beginning where the Ohio River intersected Pennsylvania that also served as the first north to south line. Eight lines, six miles apart were plotted in the first survey. This resulted in the Seven Ranges that were seven north to south rows. This surveyed land would now become available for sale to private individuals and companies filling the coffers of the United States with raising taxes.

The States did finally relinquish their right to this "test tract" of land. Despite this and the new land ordinance, the Federal Government lacked the resources to manage the new surveyed lands. Native Americans refused to relinquish a large percentage of the plotted land and the territory remained too dangerous for settlement. This either required troops to eject the Native Americans or capital to purchase their land "fairly" insuring the peaceful sale and settlement of the new federal real estate. The federal government had neither. Additionally the federal land that was not in dispute by the Native Americans was eagerly occupied by western settlers as squatters who had no faith in or respect for the United States in Congress Assembled. The settlers were correct in their assessment as the federal government was even unable to muster capital to pay magistrates and pay troops to enforce the $1.00 per acre fee required from the settlers for a clear federal title. With the States no longer in control of the lands and no federal magistrates or troops to enforce the laws, a tide of western squatters flowed into the Northwest Territory.

In June a despondent Congress turned their attentions to other matters and appointed a new federal court to decide on a South Carolina-Georgia boundary dispute. Most of the June dealt with the appointment of Indian commissioners in a effort to negotiate Native American Treaties to settle the territory and discharged the only garrison capable of enforcing the land ordinance with squatters at Fort Pitt. Congress ordered inquiries into the offices of the former Superintendent of Finance and the treasury administration. As the government departments grew in New York the undefined office of President of the United States steadily lost power. On June 13th President Lee wrote his nephew an interesting letter that gives some insight into the strengthening of the Executive Office of Foreign Secretary at the expense of the U. S. Presidency:

Your favor of June the 11th has been just now put into my hands, and had it come sooner would have rendered unnecessary some parts of my letter to you of yesterday, which, with this will be delivered by Mr. Joseph Harrison. I am very sure that without incurring the smallest danger of being charged with self applause, I can safely appeal to all those acquainted with my political progress, for a full testimonial that neither indolence, inattention or neglect have marked my proceedings; And most certainly I should not have first commenced such practice with so respectable a character as Doctor Franklin. When Congress determined to indulge the Doctor, upon his request, with leave to retire, the business of communicating that determination was expressly assigned to the Secretary for foreign Affairs among the other duties of his Office; And did not enter at all into my business. In me it would have been a work of Supererogation and I think myself warranted in doing justice to the honorable Secretary for foreign Affairs by assuring you that his information was sent by the earliest good opportunity that offered after the Act of Congress passed. I thank you for your obliging attention to my affairs; but you say nothing about the covering for my Chariot; is it gone, or in what State is that affair? The Gout shoes are come & I believe will answer well. God bless you. Farewell, Richard Henry Lee

Early July brought the celebration of Independence and the establishment of the Dollar as the money unit of the United States on the 6th with these resolutions:.

Resolved, That the money unit of the United States of America be one dollar. Resolved, That the smallest coin be of copper, of which 200 shall pass for one dollar. Resolved, That the several pieces shall increase in a decimal ratio.

Also in July began debates on granting the federal government intrastate and foreign commerce power to raise revenue and settle state disputes. That month they abolished the commissary of military stores and the entire quartermaster department as they continued to debate the requisition bill from the states. Cutting costs was the only option left to the Delegates in this era of debt.

In 1785 New York City was a bustling city whose post-war growth was unprecedented in America during the 18th Century. The relocation of the Federal Government to Manhattan, in what is now known as the Wall Street district, attracted tidal waves packed with diplomats, politicians and enterprising businessmen seeking housing, office and retail space close to the United States in Congress Assembled. In late July, Congress, at the request of Richard Henry Lee, passed an unusual resolution that was directed to N. Y. C. Mayor James Duane and signed by the President:

New York July 20th, 1785: I have the honor to enclose an Act of Congress that has been prompted by the daily interruption given to their discussions by the almost unceasing noise of passing Carriages. Your long acquaintance with public business and your wish to see it discharged with propriety and dispatch, will secure your approbation of the proposed remedy if it shall be found to consist with the police of the City.

As summer percolated into a steamy New York City August meaningful work in Congress slowed to a trickle despite the chained off area as the city teamed with the new country's business. Richard Henry Lee decided to leave the Capitol due to an undisclosed illness and in his absence Congress granted Secretary John Jay, on the 25th, greater latitude in negotiating with Don Diego de Gardoqui, the Spanish minister to the United States to end the tide of Mississippi tariffs that plagued the southern territories and States. This attempt to negotiate a commercial treaty with Gardoqui resulted in nothing. This stonewall was not forgotten by the old members of Congress when Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. The King of Spain in 1803 protested that Napoleon's territorial title was worthless. Napoleon Bonaparte planned a new French empire in the Americas with Louisiana as its focal point. In 1800, Bonaparte forced Spain to return Louisiana at the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso for a fairly large amount of money. Spain was never paid and in 1803 Napoleon sold the land to the United States. Spain had, in the opinion of the founders, exacted a heavy toll from a fledgling nation through the confederation period on the Mississippi and readily turned a deft ear to the protests of the King.

Meanwhile, Richard Henry Lee who left New York City recuperated under the watch of his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. Despite his illness President Lee did attend to his duties as evidenced by this letter to Secretary Charles Thomson::

"Philadelphia August 21st. 1785: The letter that you favored me with on the 18th instant reached me yesterday after the post had left the City, so that the papers enclosed for my signature must be detained until next post day, unless Doctor Gardener should afford me an opportunity of more quickly conveying them. With the returned papers you will receive also enclosed a letter from the honorable Mr. Rutledge, and one from Lt. Colo. Harmer, both which I received yesterday. I pray you Sir to accept my thanks for your obliging wishes for the recovery of my health, which is certainly better than when I left New York."

In early September quorum problems, once again, plagued Congress with the President in Philadelphia. Lee still managed some Presidential business and wrote John Jay on September 11th regarding the negotiations with Spain:

"I had the honor of receiving this morning your favor of the fourth instant concerning the letter from Count de florida Blanca to the President of Congress, which was delivered to me by Mr. Gardoque. Having considered that letter as a public one, I delivered it to Congress, and it now remains with their Secretary, if he has not sent it to your Office. I do not precisely remember the contents of the letter, and viewing it in the light of a public one, I have two difficulties, which I pray your assistance to remove. As a public letter, it would seem that the sentiments in answer should be dictated by Congress; As a private one, I should know exactly its contents which I do not. I shall be very happy to have your sentiments on this occasion after you have seen the letter; and I will readily pursue that course which your better knowledge of such business shall point out to me. Be pleased Sir to accept my thanks for your obliging wishes for the restoration of my health which is much mended since I have drank the waters in the vicinity of this place. My compliments, if you please, to Mr. Gardoque."

From September 13th to the 17th Congress focused on the 1785 requisition. Finally after six months of hearings and debate they adopted the 1785 Requisition Resolution:

“Resolved, That for the services of the present year, one thousand seven hundred and eighty five, for the payment of one year's Interest on the foreign and domestic debt, and as a provision to discharge the balance of the estimate of April twenty seventh, one thousand seven hundred and eighty four, above the sum called for by the resolve of Congress of that date, it will be necessary that Three Million of dollars, in addition to 649,880 dollars, hereafter provided for, be paid into the common treasury, on or before the first day of May next, to be appropriated to the following purposes:

. • Dollars ... Dollars

. • Civil department ... 122,331

. • Military department ... 187,224.32

. • Purchases of Indian rights of soil,and the incidental expences ... 5,000

. • Contingencies, the expences under which head shall, on the first of January annually, be transmitted by the board of Treasury, to the Legislature of each State ... 90,000

. • ... 404,555.32FOREIGN DEBT

. • Dollars ... Dollars

. • 10,000,000 livres loaned in Holland and guaranteed by France, one year's Interest thereon ... 74,074

. • 24,000,000 ditto, public French loan, one year's

. • Interest thereon ... 222,222.20

. • 174,000 dollars, Spanish loan, one year's Interest thereon ... 8,700

. • 5,000,000 florins, first Dutch loan, one year's Interest thereon ... 96,527.5

. • 2,000,000 ditto, second Dutch loan, one year's Interest thereon at 4 per cent ... 30,888.88

. • 846,710 livres to the farmer's general of France, one year's Interest thereon ... 7,840

. • ... 440,252.58DOMESTIC DEBT

. • Liquidated:

. • 10,517,380.6 dollars, one year's Interest thereon ... 631,042.6

. • Loan Office debt:

. • 3,778,900 dollars issued to the 1st Sept. 1777, equal to specie, one year's Interest thereon ... 226,734

. • 3,459,200 dollars issued between 1st Sept. 1777, and 1st March, 1778, which sum is subject to liquidation by the scale, but the Interest is payable on the nominal sum, one year's Interest thereon ... 207,540

. • 5,146,330.8 dollars, specie value of uncancelled loan office certificates, issued after the 1st March, 1778, one year's Interest thereon ... 308,780.6

. • ... 743,054.6

. • 4,823,724 dollars, estimated amount of certificates issued and to be issued to the lines of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, one year's Interest thereon ... 289,423.4 348

. • 1,141,551.5 dollars, balance of the estimate of the 27th of April, 1784, above the sum called for by the resolution of Congress of that date ... 1,141,551.5

. • Total estimate ... 3,649,880

. • Deduction ... 649,880

. • Balance to be called for ... 3,000,000

At the end of September the eastern boundary dispute between New York and Massachusetts was still not settled so they authorized a commission complete the matter. October saw the return of the President to New York from Philadelphia. Richard Henry Lee was very busy in October with the dispatch of troops to attend western Native American negotiations, exhorting states to meet financial quotas and dealing with the shipping threats of the Barbary States. Unfortunately congress failed to achieve quorum on three occasions in late October so Richard Henry Lee's term ended with the postponement of convening a court to determine Massachusetts-New York western land claims dispute and the suspension of recruitment for 700-troop establishment that was direly needed to collect the $1.00 per acre federal fee or evict Land Ordinance squatters in the newly surveyed territory.

In one of his last letters as President of the United States, Richard Henry Lee took the time to write Marquis de Lafayette, once again, who acted so boldly in Lee's home state of Virginia during the dark days of 1780 and 81:

I thank you, my dear marquis, for your very affectionate letter, by Mr. Houdon; that gentleman arrived in Philadelphia, and proceeded immediately to Mount Vernon; he has been ever since with General Washington, so that I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing him in this city. It is very happy for America, that events of such high importance should have taken place here as to invite artists, of Mr. Houdon's great reputation, to visit us. I hope that he will find every thing here agreeable to his wishes. As I take strong part in every thing that conduces to your happiness, so I have contemplated with pleasure, the great satisfaction you must have received at the review of those excellent troops of the emperor and of Prussia. A philosophic mind is apt, however, to regret that such fine exertions of human art should so often be employed for the destruction of the human species. I will comfort myself here by hoping, that these will be used to suppress and control, not to promote the bad purposes of ambition. It raises high the glory of Louis the Sixteenth, that his reign has been so eminent for promoting the good of mankind, whilst sovereigns in general, employ their power to increase the miseries of human nature! Will it not happen, during the reign of this glorious monarch, that those lawless pirates, upon the African coast of the Mediterranean, will be compelled, by some proper system, to respect the rights of men, and the laws of nations, instead of receiving annual stipends for not doing what it is really infamous to do. I mean roaming about to injure, oppress, and destroy, their unoffending fellow creatures. Among the many leagues that are formed, why may not one be made for the purpose of protecting the rights of humanity. I hope, sir, that you have not forgotten your design, again to make us happy, by your return to these United States.

The journals of the United States in Congress Assembled report this summary of Lee’s Congress:

1784 --- December 3 Registers commission of Swedish consul Charles Hellstedt; orders redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops to West Point. December 7 Countermands redeployment of Fort Stanwix troops, who are ordered to Fort Rensselaer. December 8 Receives Massachusetts and New York agents assembled to select judges for hearing land claim dispute between the two states. December 11 Rejects motion to adjourn from Trenton; commends the marquis de Lafayette. December 14 Postpones election of treasury commissioners; directs Benjamin Franklin to delay signing consular convention with France. December 15 Receives Spanish announcement closing Mississippi River. December 17 Elects chaplain to Congress; resolves to appoint minister to Spain. December 20 Overturns decision to create two capitals; appropriates $100,000 for capital buildings. December 23 Adopts ordinance for fixing upon a place for the residence of Congress." December 24 Certifies selection of judges for hearing Massachusetts-New York land claim dispute; adjourns to New York City.

1785 --- January 11 Reconvenes, five states represented. January 13 Achieves quorum, seven states represented. January 18 Accepts offer of New York City Hall for the use of Congress. January 20 Communicates to states intelligence on the precariousness of United States credit abroad. January 24 Orders preparation of a requisition on the states for 1785. January 25 Elects treasury commissioners; tables L'Enfant plan for establishing a corps of engineers. January 27 Adopts ordinance "for ascertaining the powers and duties of the Secretary at War." January 31 Resolves to appoint minister to Great Britain. February 1 Ratifies terms of a two-million-guilder Dutch loan.

February 2 Adopts proclamation urging states to penalize counterfeiting. February 7 Approves lease of public buildings at Carlisle, Pa., to Dickinson College; orders removal of War Office, Post Office, and Treasury offices to New York. February 10 Elects Philip Schuyler commissioner for planning federal capital. February 11 Adopts regulations for the office for foreign affairs, conceding to Secretary Jay's demands. February 18 Limits terms of ministers abroad. February 21 Resolves to send commissioners to the Illinois Settlements. February 24 Appoints John Adams minister to Great Britain. March 4 Opens debate on western land ordinance.

March 7 Authorizes Benjamin Franklin's return to America; resolves to appoint minister to the Netherlands. March 8 Elects Henry Knox secretary at war. March 10 Elects Thomas Jefferson minister to France. March 11 Adopts instructions for negotiating with the Barbary states. March 15 Adopts instructions for the southern Indian commissioners. March 16 Rejects motion to limit slavery in the territories. March 17 Imposes 12-month limit for submission of claims against the United States. March 18 Adopts instructions for the western Indian commissioners. March 21 Elects southern Indian commissioners; thanks king of Denmark for offer to ordain American candidates for holy orders. March 28 Receives report on granting Congress commerce powers. March 31 Adopts ordinance for regulating the office of secretary of Congress; receives report on 1785 requisition.

April 1 Debates Continental military needs. April 7 Authorizes military establishment of 700 troops. April 14 Reads revised western land ordinance. April 18 Accepts Massachusetts western land cession. April 22-28 Debates western land ordinance. April 29 Appeals to states to maintain representation.

May 2-6 Debates western land ordinance. May 9-10 Fails to achieve quorum (five states). May 12 Fails to achieve quorum (six states). May 13 Receives coinage report. May 18-19 Debates western land ordinance. May 20 Adopts western land ordinance; appeals to North Carolina to repeat western land cession. May 24 Fails to achieve quorum (four states). May 27 Renews appointment of geographer of the United States; appoints 13 continental surveyors.

June 1 Authorizes appointment of federal court to decide South Carolina Georgia boundary dispute. June 3 Publishes treaties with the Indians negotiated at Fort Stanwix and Fort McIntosh. June 6 Authorizes negotiation of an Indian treaty at Vincennes. June 7 Discharges Fort Pitt garrison. June 14 Responds to French announcement of the birth of a second heir to the throne. June 17 Orders John Jay to plan audience for the Spanish plenipotentiary Diego de Gardoqui. June 20 Orders inquiry into the administration of the late superintendent of finance. June 21 Orders annual inquiry into treasury administration. June 23 Appoints William Livingston minister to the Netherlands (declines). June 29 Asks Virginia to provide military support for Indian commissioners. June 30 Orders a study of mail transportation.

July 1 Rejects motion to abolish court of appeals, but terminates salaries of the judges. July 2 Receives Diego de Cardoqui. July 4 Celebrates Independence Day. July 5 Appoints John Rutledge minister to the Netherlands (declines). July 6 Adopts the dollar as the money unit of the United States. July 11 Continues rations for Canadian refugees. July 12 Receives Post Office report. July 13-14 Debates granting Congress commerce power. July 18 Debates 1785 requisition. July 20 Abolishes commissary of military stores. July 22 Debates 1785 requisition. July 25 Abolishes quartermaster department. July 28-29 Debates 1785 requisition.

August 1-3 Debates 1785 requisition. August 5 Orders removal of the treasurer's office to New York (by October 1) . August 10-13 Recesses. August 15 Thanks king of Spain for sending Gardoqui mission. August 17 Appoints Samuel Holten chairman in the absence of President Lee (through September 29) for the recovery of his health; Secretary Thomson to re port delegate attendance monthly. August 18 Endorses conduct of Massachusetts governor James Bowdoin in controversy with British naval captain Henry Stanhope. August 25 Grants John Jay greater latitude in negotiating with Gardoqui. August 29 Abolishes committee of the week (duties transferred to secretary of Congress.

September 2-3 Fails to achieve quorum (five states and two states) . September 5 Receives John Jay report on British occupation of northwest posts. September 7 Authorizes John Jay to inspect the mails when ever required by United States "safety or interest" ; approves the conveyance of mails by stage carriages. September 13-17 Debates 1785 requisition. September 19-21 Debates appeal of Connecticut settlers in the Wyoming valley. September 22-26 Debates 1785 requisition. September 27 Adopts 1785 requisition. September 29 Authorizes commission to settle Massachusetts New York eastern boundary.

October 5 Orders postmaster general to extend system of posts. October 7 Debates threat of western separatism. October 12 Authorizes troops to attend western Indian negotiations; exhorts states to meet fiscal quotas. October 17-18 Mourns death of Virginia delegate Samuel Hardy (age 27). October 20 Receives John Jay report on naval threat of Barbary states. October 21-22 Fails to achieve quorum (six states and one state) . October 25 Fails to achieve quorum (four states). October 27 Rejects proposal to create consular establishment. October 28 Confers consular powers on ministers abroad.

November 2 Postpones convening of court to determine Massachusetts-New York western land claims dispute; suspends recruitment for 700 troop establishment. November 4 Congressional session expires.

Richard Henry Lee, the man who wrote the resolution for Independence, distrusted the central government and in 1788 fought against the ratification of the new US Constitution seeking to preserve the old confederation government. In an October 1787 letter to George Mason, Lee warned that the new Federal government would "… produce a coalition of monarchy of men, military men, aristocrats and drones, whose noise, impudence and zeal exceeds all belief". Lee summed up his philosophy to Samuel Adams in a March 14, 1785 letter two years earlier stating:

I think sir that the first maxim of a man who loves liberty should be, never to grant to Rulers an atom of power that is not most clearly and indispensable necessary for the safety and well being of Society.

Richard Henry Lee was the only true "radical" to win the Presidency of the United States in Congress Assembled. To his dismay the new executive departments had weaned away the power of the President's office to a shadow of what it was when Samuel Huntington became the 1st U.S. President in 1781.

At the end of his presidential term Lee returned to Virginia and remained active in state politics until 1787 when he was re-elected to the Confederation Congress as a delegate. Lee voted to revise the Articles of Confederation resulting in the convening of the 2nd Constitutional Convention.. The convention was chaired by George Washington who agreed with Madison and other key founders to discard the 1st U.S. Constitution completely and form a entirely new plan for the federal government. The new plan was signed by Washington and the other founders on September 17, 1787. When the new constitution was reported to congress on September 20th, Richard Henry Lee vehemently opposed its adoption. Despite this and President's St. Clair's disappointment in the document's complete dismantling of the Articles of Confederation, the new constitution was sent to the States for ratification without any modifications by the United States in Congress Assembled.

Scholars are divided on the reasons why members, like Richard Henry Lee, didn't insist on modifying the Constitution before submitting it to the states. Some scholars maintain that opponents in the United States in Congress Assembled were sure the 13 individual legislatures would reject a plan that so boldly usurped State authority so modification wasn't necessary. Other members who opposed the new Constitution chose not to add or alter sections out of respect for George Washington's chairmanship. Whatever the reasons the United States in Congress Assembled, despite having the power to alter the plan, added nor deleted a word. The new constitution was now left to the States.

Richard Henry Lee did warn the Delegates that the new constitution's consolidation of national power would ultimately replace the state governments with centralized despotism. His correspondence at this time with Samuel Adams, who was inclined to entertain the same fears, is very instructive as many of his fears and predictions are now 21st Century realities.

These misgivings were also shared by Patrick Henry and many other patriotic Virginians. Despite this James Madison managed to broker Virginia's ratification of the new constitution with the State delegation by promising to introduce their 17 amendments in the 1st Congress. These amendments, Madison maintained, would be introduced in the 1st session of Congress by him personally. True to his word, Madison was elected to the House of Representatives and submitted all 17 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The new U.S. Congress voted to submit only 12 of the 17 amendments for approval by the States. Ten were ratified and are now referred to as the Bill of Rights.

The first U.S. Senators elected by Virginia were Richard Henry Lee and Grayson, in opposition to James Madison and a fellow Federalist. Madison who is often called the "Father of the Constitution" was soundly defeated by Lee and forced to challenge James Monroe for the open seat in the House of Representatives. This House election is and will always remain one of the most pivotal legislative victories in U.S. History due to Madison's success in introducing the Bill of Rights.

As a U.S. Senator, Richard Henry Lee wielded the language of the tenth amendment to the Constitution in these words: "The powers not delegated by the Constitution to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively." The amendment, as adopted, substituted the word "granted" for "delegated," and added at the end the words "or to the people."

Though at first an Anti-Federalist, Mr. Lee came to be a warm supporter of Washington's administration, and especially approved of his course in the affair of "citizen" Genet. In 1792 Senator Lee was obliged, by failing health, to resign his seat. He retired to his estate at Chantilly, where he spent the last two years of his life.

Mr. Lee was described by his peers as tall and graceful in person and striking in feature. His voice was clear and rich, and his oratory impressive. He did not waste time in flowery rhetoric, instead speaking briefly and to the point. His ideas were so lucid and expression so forcible that when he sat down after a few weighty words fellow representatives often remarked that there was no more to be said on the subject. His capacity for work was daunting, though sometimes limited by poor health; as Dr. Rush said, "His mind was like a sword too large for its scabbard."

Richard Henry Lee was married twice. His first wife was Aylett Lee bore two sons and two daughters. His second wife, Pinkard, also birthed two daughters. For more information on his family, a definitive work in two volumes, "Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee," Philadelphia, 1825, was written by grandson, Richard Henry Lee, of Leesburg, Virginia.


In 2004 this author led the effort, as a member of the James Monroe Foundation, to acquire the birthplace James Monroe who was also born in Westmoreland County Virginia. It was discovered that Westmoreland residents were very found of touting that two U.S. Presidents, George Washington and James Monroe, were born in their farm laden county. Today residents are now well aware of Richard Henry Lee's standing in the United States and have the distinction of being the only county birthing three U.S. Presidents. President Richard Henry Lee’s grave can be found in a quaint farm field just off a sandy lane in Westmoreland County on the grounds of his former estate with the epitaph "We Can Not Do Without You.".


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Democratic Party

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Whig Party

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Whig Party

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Democratic Party

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Democratic Party

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Whig Party

Millard Fillmore
Whig Party

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Democratic Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

Jefferson Davis***
Democratic Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Democratic Party 

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Republican Party

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Republican Party

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Democratic Party

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Republican Party

George H. W. Bush
Republican Party 

William Jefferson Clinton
Democratic Party

George W. Bush 
Republican Party

Barack H. Obama
Democratic Party

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