Richard Henry Lee and His Two Resolutions
Richard Henry Lee was a prominent Virginia leader during the American Revolution and was involved with one of the most important moments in American history.
Leading to the Revolution
Richard Henry Lee was a wealthy Virginian who by age 34 had studied for six years in Europe, returned home to be elected as justice of the peace and taken a seat in the House of Burgesses.
When the Stamp Act was passed by Great Britain, Lee sought what he believed to be an honorable position: tax collector.
This was a mistake, as he failed to understand just how against this tax his fellow Virginians were. The House of Burgesses censured him, which is a legal maneuver which basically means they publicly shook their collective finger at him.
Coming to realize his mistake, Lee threw himself into the anti-taxation movement. He was forgiven by his peers and to make up for his transgressions learned everything he could regarding the tense situation.
Richard Henry Lee met with a group of Westmoreland County residents to form a response to Parliament regarding the Stamp Act. They were frightened that if they did not stop unfair taxation now, more would follow (they were right).
Lee, having learned all the arguments against the Stamp Act the hard way, was tasked with writing out the group’s grievances. He did, and all those present publicly signed the document.
The Westmoreland Resolves, as they came to be known, where one of the earliest protests against the unfair laws in the colonies.
The Resolution for Independency
A decade later, Richard Henry Lee found himself as a leader in the rebellion against British authority.
Following the Halifax Resolves in North Carolina, the Virginians in the Continental Congress received updated instructions. They could separate from Great Britain.
On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee took the floor and offered one of the most important resolutions in the history of the United States of America:
Resolved, 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 connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.
The weeks later, this resolution was passed and the united British colonies formally became the United States of America.
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