O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!
O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe Lee died without children of their own. However, the newly chartered Rappahannock Chapter of the Virginia Society | Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) has changed all of that, claiming Frank as its honorary ancestor.
The Rappahannock Chapter is the first SAR chapter to be formed in
Virginia in 20 years. The intention of its organizer, Michael Rawlings of Tappahannock, VA, was to fill a void in this region where the closest practicing chapters are quite a distance away.
Over one hundred people attended the ceremony, with SAR leaders from both the state and the national level on hand to participate. There were also several members of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Children of the American Revolution (CAR) present.
Menokin is pleased and honored to have been the host of this momentous occasion.
Thirteen men were inducted with a total of 17 initial charter members – and more than 40 additional men, many of whom were in attendance yesterday are working on their research and applications.
Leedstown Resolutions Sowed Seed of Revolution
by Frank Delano
A spirited sibling squabble will highlight The Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society’s annual commemoration of the 1766 Leedstown Resolutions on Saturday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. at historic Yeocomico Church near Kinsale in Westmoreland County.
The famous resolutions were the first protest of “taxation without representation” and were directed to the British monarchy. The document was a forerunner of the Declaration of Independence ten years later.
This year’s observance will feature interpreters portraying the disparate brothers Philip Ludwell Lee and Richard Henry Lee and their outspoken sister Hannah Lee Corbin — all of whom would have attended Yeocomico Church.
Richard Henry (1732-1794) was the author of the Leedstown Resolutions. Prior to their signing, he burned effigies of British tax officials at the Westmoreland courthouse. Ten years later, he introduced the bill that became the Declaration of Independence.
Richard Henry’s oldest brother Philip (1727-1775) was no fan of insurrection. He was more interested in the profits from his thousands of acres, his race horses and entertaining his friends at Stratford Hall, which he beautifully renovated and expanded.
The Lee brothers’ sister Hannah (1728-1782) was known as an informed and outspoken activist. After her first husband’s death, she lived happily unmarried to another man to avoid losing property left by her first husband. She was a staunch supporter of the Revolution.
There is no known record of a spirited conversation between these three strong-willed Lees, but it could have occurred after a service at Yeocomico Church or at Hannah’s nearby home. (Their peace-making brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, would probably have been trying to mediate his hot-tempered siblings!)
Come hear what they might have said about the embers that led to a new country forged in the fire of Revolution.
Yeocomico Church is located at 1283 Old Yeocomico Rd. Kinsale, VA 22488. To reach Yeocomico Church from Cople Highway (Rt. 202) at Carmel Church, take Sandy Point Road (Rt. 604) about two miles north. Turn left on Old Yeocomico Road (Rt. 606) and go a mile to the church. For additional information, contact Steve Walker at 804-472-3291 or email@example.com.
This man’s life-work was so inconspicuous, that his name would now be wholly forgotten, but for one thing- he signed the Declaration of Independence. Yet his life was a most useful and worthy one. It was a good and profitable voyage, though it left no phosphorescent splendors in its wake.– Mark Twain on Francis Lightfoot Lee, 1877
Excerpted from introduction to Francis Lightfoot Lee: Forgotten Revolutionary by Sarah L. Jones, Yale University (Class of 2006), 2004.
Francis Lightfoot Lee is what one might call a “forgotten revolutionary.” Described by his niece as the “sweetest of all the Lee race” and as possessing a temper
“as soft as the dove’s,” Lee was far from being the inconspicuous man that Twain claimed he was. Lee, his memory now nearly hidden beneath the rubble of his Virginia mansion, had a life that was “most useful and worthy,” the life of a patriot of the American Revolution.
Over one hundred years after Twain wrote his sketch of Francis Lightfoot Lee, Lee has nearly become “wholly forgotten,” and, as Twain was correct to note, Lee is solely remembered for his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Yet Lee has not been granted his proper place in history, for his involvement with the founding of the country lays not only in his signature on a document, but with thirty years of an active political life, a life in which he opposed British measures, sought independence, and served the nation through a number of committees as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, the Second Continental Congress, and the Virginia State Senate.
Lee was certainly not an “inconspicuous” man, nor was he merely “soft as a dove.” Rather, Lee was a true patriot, not only according to standards held by his contemporaries, but also to his own.
Francis Lightfoot Lee was born in 1734 to Thomas and Hannah Ludwell Lee in Westmoreland County on the Northern Neck of Virginia. Lee was reared at Stratford Hall Plantation, and like most male children of the Virginia planter class, he was educated by a private tutor at Stratford Hall and was well read in Classical literature, history and law.
In 1758, he took his seat as representative of Loudoun County to the Virginia House of Burgesses, having moved there to maintain his lands inherited from his father. During his time as a Burgess, Lee remained attentive to the political scene of not only Virginia, but also of the colonies. He became an opponent to taxation without representation and other British offenses, which he protested not only through personal letters, but also in signing his support to important documents, including the Westmoreland Resolves of 1766.
As a member of a committee appointed to protest British policies toward the colonies in 1768, Lee maintained an active role in opposition to the British. In 1769, Lee was married to Rebecca Tayloe, daughter of planter John Tayloe II, and moved to Richmond County to the Menokin Plantation. Having settled at Menokin, Lee was elected representative of Richmond County to the House of Burgesses. Lee continued to serve as a Burgess from Richmond County until elected as a Virginia delegate to the Second Continental Congress in August 1775.
Lee fully supported American Independence throughout most of his political career, signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Lee remained a member of Congress until 1779, serving on a variety of committees including the Board of War, Committee of Secret Correspondence, and other ad-hoc committees.
In 1779, Francis Lightfoot Lee retired from the Second Continental Congress due to the three-year limit that had since been imposed by the Revolutionary Government. In 1780, Lee again entered Virginia politics, having been elected to serve as a member of the Virginia Senate, until 1782 when he retired from politics. He did, however, remain interested in the political scene, and is purported to have supported the ratification of the Constitution.
In a letter to James Madison, George Washington wrote:
Francis L. Lee on whose judgement the family place much reliance, is decidely[sic] in favor of the new form [the Constitution] under a conviction that it is the best that can be obtained, and because it promises energy, stability, and tht [sic] security which is, or ought to be, the wish of every good citizen of the Union.
Even in Virginia’s Northern Neck, Burnt House Field Cemetery is an out-of-the-way place to honor a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The cemetery at Hague in Westmoreland County is surrounded by a brick wall and 100 acres of corn. Richard Henry Lee (1732-1794) is buried here with his parents and grandparents.
Lee was more than just a signer. In the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Lee introduced the resolution calling for independence from Great Britain that led to the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
His brother Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734-1797) also signed it. Ten years earlier, they had burned an effigy of the Tax Man at the Westmoreland courthouse and helped organize other opposition to the hated Stamp Act.
Sponsored by the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society and Cople Parish, the commemoration at the Lee cemetery will begin at 8:30 a.m. It will feature a living-history interpretation of Francis Lightfoot Lee and his wife, Rebecca Tayloe Lee, visiting Richard Henry Lee’s grave. (Francis Lightfoot Lee is buried in the Tayloe Cemetery at Mt. Airy near Warsaw.)
The observance will then move 5 miles to Yeocomico Episcopal Church. Built in 1706, it was the home church of the Lee family. Richard Henry Lee and his father Thomas Lee both served on the vestry. The service at the church will include prayers and the singing of patriotic hymns and the national anthem.
For additional information, contact Steve Walker, 804-472-3291, firstname.lastname@example.org
CEMETERY: From State Rt. 202 (Cople Highway) at Hague, take Rt. 612 (Coles Point Road) about one-half mile to Rt. 675 (Mt. Pleasant Road). The cemetery is about a mile at the end of the gravel road.
CHURCH: From cemetery, turn left on Rt. 612 (Coles Point Road). Go one mile and turn right on Rt. 606 (Tucker Hill Road). Go three miles and turn right on Rt. 606 (Old Yeocomico Road). The church will be on the right.
Yesterday was the 248th anniversary of the signing of the Leedstown Resolves. This courageous protestation of the Stamp Act eventually led to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.
Sometime before 1678, Edward Bray had built a brick church, an ordinary, ferry, and wharf at the present Leedstown. Up to this date the site was known as Rappahannock. After 1678, it was known as Bray’s Wharf or Bray’s Church. By 1742, it was known as Leeds. Later it was known as Leedstown. Leedstown was created a town by an act of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1742.
In colonial days, Leedstown was not only a place for commerce. General George Washington often visited Leedstown. There was a ferry across the river Laytons, on the south side of the river in Essex County (it operated until about 1927 when the Downings Bridge to Tappahannock opened). Following the Revolutionary War shipping at Leedstown began to decline as many planters moved west into the Kentucky and Ohio territories.
Both Francis Lightfoot Lee (of Menokin) and Richard Henry Lee signed the Leedstown Resolves. The Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society hosts an annual event commemorating this important day in American History. For the second year in a row, this event was held at the visitor’s center of The Menokin Foundation. A standing-room-only crowd of over 60 people gathered to listen to the history of the event. They were also treated to a Color Guard presentation by local Colonial reenactors.
We thank the NNVHS for including Menokin in this celebration.