Henry "light-horse Harry" Lee - Autograph Letter Signed 02/27/1808 For SaleHENRY LEE. ALS: "H. Lee", 3½p, 8x10, separate sheets. Charles City, [Virginia], 1808 July 27. To John Harper. In part: "In my full confidence of yr personal regard, as well as of yr professional accuracy, attention & ability I ask yr care & contact of a claim due to me as you will find on perusal of the accompanying papers (not present). When you shall have decided on the course proper for me to pursue, please to communicate with particular directions for me to follow. Must I administer on Semples estate? how, when & where. Can the suit be brought in the Maryland circuit court, or must I report to the state chancery. I prefer the first. Semple died during the war, was a Scotchman & resided in Virg[ini]a. The only property to be found is the land & rents mentioned in my bill which lay in the county of Washington State of Maryland...." In a postscript, Lee asks, in part: "Can I as a debtor administer on Semples estate in Maryland, how & where must I so do - this would be a short cut to my releif (sic). If the act of limitation affect me...use the name of Ludwell Lee who intermarried Flora Lee one of the daughters of Philip L. Lee, & who is Executor of Francis L Lee one of the Ex[ecuto]rs of Philip Ludwell Lee & interested with me: he never visits this state - a few weeks ago he was in Baltimore His first visit...." Family Note: LUDWELL LEE was the son of Richard Henry Lee. He married his first cousin, FLORA LEE, daughter of PHILIP L. LEE. Flora's sister was Matilda Lee who married her cousin Henry Lee. Matilda died in 1790 and Henry married Ann Carter in 1793. FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE was Richard Henry Lee's brother, both Signers of the Declaration of Independence. The skill of HENRY LEE (1756-1818) as a horseman made him a natural cavalryman. Leading his men on lightning raids against enemy supply trains, he attracted the attention and admiration of General George Washington and was rapidly promoted. In a surprise attack at Paulus Hook, New Jersey, he captured 400 British soldiers with the loss of only one man. His adroit horsemanship earned him the nickname "Light Horse Harry". Commissioned Major General in 1798, Lee was honorably discharged in 1800. Elected as a Federalist, he served in Congress from 1799-1801. At the request of Congress, he delivered President Washington's eulogy before both houses of Congress, in which he characterized Washington as "FIRST IN WAR, FIRST IN PEACE, AND FIRST IN THE HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN". After 1800, Lee failed in several land and financial speculations, reducing him to financial poverty. The Lees sometimes had to chain the doors of their plantation, Stratford Hall, to keep the debt collectors out. On January 19, 1807, at Stratford Hall, his wife Ann gave birth to future General Robert Edward Lee. In 1809, a year after this letter was written, when Robert was only two years old, his father was carried off to debtor's prison in Montross because he could not meet his creditors' demands. It is said that his father's life had a great deal to do with Robert E. Lee's attitude toward any kind of debt. He believed in living on the money you had. While in debtor's prison, in a 12-by-15 foot cell, Harry wrote his Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States, still the standard text on that portion of the Revolutionary War. When the book was finished in 1810, the family moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where a new life on a modest scale was made possible by an inheritance from his wife's father. Fragile. Toned. Ink show through. Folds. Lightly creased. Nicked left and right edge in blank margin of signature page. Minor separations at folds (all intact).
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