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Richard Henry Lee

Richard Henry Lee
Charles Willson Peale, 15 Apr 1741 - 22 Feb 1827
Richard Henry Lee, 20 Jan 1732 - 19 Jun 1794
c. 1795-1805
Oil on canvas
Stretcher: 75.6 x 63.8 x 3.2cm (29 3/4 x 25 1/8 x 1 1/4")
Frame: 88.3 x 75.6 x 5.4cm (34 3/4 x 29 3/4 x 2 1/8")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Duncan Lee and his son, Gavin Dunbar Lee
Restrictions & Rights
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Stratford, Westmoreland County, Virginia
On June 7, 1776, it fell to Richard Henry Lee, delegate from Virginia at the Second Continental Congress, to offer the resolution that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States,” thereby initiating the Declaration of Independence. An aristocrat with an innate sense of his natural rights, Lee had long fought England’s attempts to undermine colonial liberties. He began his political career in the Virginia House of Burgesses, with a 1759 argument for an end to the slave trade because Black people were “equally entitled to liberty and freedom by the great law of nature.” When Lee’s resolution was adopted by the Continental Congress in early July 1776, he was in Virginia, helping to form a new state government. Lee later returned to Philadelphia to sign the Declaration of Independence.
Duncan Lee, Toronto, and his son Gavin Dunbar Lee, descendants of sitter; gift 1974 to NPG
Contemporary replica of Peale’s museum version made for family.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Out of Many: Portraits from 1600 to 1900
On View
NPG, East Gallery 144