Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Francis Lightfoot Lee

                    Francis Lightfoot Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born on October 14, 1734, in Westmoreland County, Virginia.  He was the younger brother of another great patriot Signer, Richard Henry Lee.

                    Francis was too young to be sent to Europe to be educated when his father died, but he received every advantage of education available in the Colonies.  He was still young when he began studying under the direction of the Reverend Doctor Craig, a Scottish "clergyman of eminent piety and learning."  Craig educated Francis' heart as well as his head and laid the foundation of character people saw in the adult patriot.

                    When Richard Henry Lee returned from studying in England, Francis was just entering adulthood.  Francis was "deeply impressed" with his brother's "various acquirements and polished manner and adopted him as a model to imitate.  Francis leaned on the judgment of his brother to the point that the brothers often acted in unison for a common good.  Richard spoke with a "sweet voice and persuasive manner.  When he started warning about the impending dangers of British oppression, Francis caught his fervor in the cause of liberty.  When Francis became old enough to join the political scene, he was a "full-fledged patriot" who "espoused the cause of freedom" with a "pure heart and clean hands."

                    Francis was elected in 1765 as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses to represent Loudon County; at the same time, Richard was a member of the House representing Westmoreland County.  Francis continued to be reelected annually until 1772 when he married Rebecca Tayloe, daughter of Colonel John Tayloe of Richmond and moved to that city.  He was immediately elected to represent Richmond in the House of Burgesses where he always acted with the patriotic burgesses.

                    Francis continued in that position until 1775 when the Virginia Convention elected him to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress.   He was not a fluent speaker and seldom engaged in debate, but he was a very useful member of any legislative assembly because of "his sound judgment, unwavering principles, and persevering industry."  He sympathized with Richard's yearnings for independence; therefore, he voted for and signed the Declaration of Independence "with great joy."

                    Francis continued as a member of Congress until 1779 and was also a member of the Virginian committee that framed the Articles of Confederation.  He resigned his position in Congress early in the spring of 1779 with the intention to retire completely from public life and enjoy his home and family.  His fellow citizens were not ready for him to leave public service and elected him as a member of the Virginia Senate.  He served in that position for only a "brief season" before he said goodbye to public employment and would not be convinced to enter it again. 

                    Francis enjoyed "his domestic pleasures" and passed his remaining days in agricultural pursuits.  He also enjoyed reading, studying, and visiting with friends.  He acted like a philosopher and a Christian when he used his "ample wealth" to dispense "blessings for the benefit of his country and his fellow men." 

                    In April 1797 Francis suffered an attack of pleurisy and died a few days later at age 63.  His wife died from the same disease within a few days later of his death.

                    Facts and quotes are from Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, pp. 194-197.

No comments:

Post a Comment