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Collection Overview

Lee, Henry, 1756-1818
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Lee Family Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of selected letters and documents by and about members of the Lee family of Virginia. The Lee family is a historically significant Virginia political family, whose many prominent members are known for their accomplishments in politics and the military. They are descended from the Lees of Shropshire, England, and became prominent in colonial America when Colonel Richard Lee emigrated to Virginia and made his fortune in tobacco. Members of the family represented in this collection include Francis Lightfoot Lee (1734–1797) and Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794), both signers of the Declaration of Independence, Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee (1756-1818), and, most famously, Robert E. Lee (1807–1870), commander of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of selected letters and documents by and about two branches of the Lee family of Virginia. Included are letters of Charles Lee, Fitzhugh Lee, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Henry Lee ("Light-Horse Harry Lee"), Richard Henry Lee, and Robert E. Lee. Other correspondents include John Fitzgerald, Socrates Maupin, John Nicholson, Ebenezer Rockwood, Winthrop Sergeant, and J. D. Woodward. The documents include "A return of the clothing on hand of the sick at the General's Hospital . . . ," signed by Andrew Lee; a copy of a statement of Henry Lee's indebtedness to Bushrod Washington; and a power of attorney for Richard Wells, signed by Richard Henry Lee and dated 1794, allowing Wells to receive interest accruing from stocks and bonds on Lee's behalf. Also included is a steel engraved portrait of Henry Lee done by J. Herring, as well as documents concerning Henry Lee's estate, copies of letters by Arthur Lee, written in English and in French, and typewritten copies of ten letters of Robert E. Lee to his friend John Mackay.


Arranged in alphabetical order.

Collection Creator Biography:

Lee, Henry, 1756-1818

Arthur Lee, American revolutionary and diplomat, was the brother of Francis Lightfoot and Richard Henry Lee. After the outbreak of the American Revolution, he was made a commissioner for the Continental Congress to seek foreign aid.

Charles Lee was a U.S. statesman and lawyer, and brother of Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) in 1775. He was a naval officer in Virginia (1777-1789) and a customs collector in Alexandria, Va. (1789-1793), was admitted to the bar (1794) while serving in the Virginia state house (1793-1795), and was appointed attorney general under Presidents Washington and John Adams (1795-1801). He was one of the prosecutors in the treason trial of Aaron Burr.

Henry Lee, better known as "Light-Horse Harry Lee," was a soldier and statesman. He was born at Leesylvania, near Dumfries, Prince William County, Va. He was a cousin of Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, and William Lee and was the father of Robert Edward Lee. Lee graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), in 1773. As a cavalry commander he first gained wide notice for his capture of the fort at Paulus Hook (now in Jersey City), N.J., on Aug. 19, 1779. He was elected to congress in 1785; was governor of Virginia from 1791 to 1794, and in 1794 he commanded the troops who suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion. Henry Lee was the author of Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States (1812).

Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of Robert E. Lee and grandson of "Light-Horse Harry Lee," was a Confederate cavalry general in the American Civil War, governor of Virginia, diplomat, and U.S. Army general in the Spanish-American War.

Francis Lightfoot Lee, of Stratford, was a cousin of Henry Lee of Leesylvania, Va. He was a revolutionist and statesman, and a member of the most talented group of brothers in Virginia history which included Richard Henry, Arthur, and William Lee. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate and a senator from Virginia, was the brother of Francis Lightfoot Lee. He was a member of the Continental Congress (1774-1779), sponsor of the independence resolution, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, author of the first national Thanksgiving Day proclamation issued by Congress at York, Pa., October 31, 1777, and a state delegate (1777, 1780, 1785).

Robert E. Lee was general-in-chief of the Confederate armies in the American Civil War. He was the fifth son of Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee. Many historians consider Robert E. Lee the greatest general of the Civil War.

Collection History


Letter from Henry Lee to Winthrop Sergeant and steel engraving were a gift in April, 1947 .

Letter concerning clothing of the sick was purchased on January 28, 1943 .

Letter from Robert E. Lee to Prof. Socrates Maupin was a gift of Cyrus H. McCormick in March, 1947 .

Letter of Fitzhugh Lee and letter from Charles Lee to Henry Lee, dated Aug. 22, 1794, were a gift of Cyrus H. McCormick in April, 1947 .

Six letters from Francis Lightfoot to Ebenezer Rockwood were a gift of Miss Katherine C. Rockwood in April, 1948 .

Henry Lee's statement of indebtedness was a gift of Alexander W. Armour in January, 1950 .

Memorabilia of Henry Lee and John Lee was a gift of Cyrus H. McCormick in May, 1952 .

Ten letters from Robert E. Lee to John Mackay were a gift of Paul R. Applegate, Jr., on August 20, 1963 .

Letter from Henry Lee to Alexander William were a gift of Mrs. Archibald Crossley on December 30, 1964 .

Letter from Henry Lee to John Fitzgerald was a gift of Brandon Barringer, Princeton Class of 1912, in September 11, 1972 .

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on May 18, 2006. Finding aid written by Dina Britain on May 19, 2006.

Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Lee Family Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1