Why are some influential leaders in history remembered and revered more than others? Mention Richard Henry Lee’s name today. Does anyone remember him or his important contributions during the American Revolution? Probably not!
My first introduction, early in grade school, was his laughable depiction in the 1970’s Broadway play/film 1776. He is portrayed as a buffoon. Harlow Giles Unger, in his well-researched book, states it was Lee’s leadership that secured independence from Great Britain. In addition, his involvement in the Second Continental Congress, during the summer of 1776, was as important as or more so than even the revered John Adams. Thomas Jefferson in composing the Declaration of Independence was inspired by his topical writings.
So why is Richard Henry Lee not remembered with more admiration & esteem today? The author contends Lee’s determined stance against the ratification of the U.S. Constitution was a primary reason. Another factor is that his plantation estate, Chantilly-on-the-Potomac, was destroyed years ago. The public has no historic site to visit and honor him. This patriot though, should not be forgotten today.
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