Richard Henry Lee, head-and-shoulders portrait, left profile. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

Lee was later elected to a Williamsburg convention opening August 1, 1774.

After witnessing Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech, Lee wrote to Henry urging Virginians to lead the colonies to force independence, quoting many of the works in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” with few changes.

During the Continental Congress, Richard Henry Lee, as the head of the Virginia delegation, made the powerful motion on June 7, 1776: “That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connections between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” Immediately after, he shared ideas with the Drafting Committee and chaired a second committee to write the Articles of Confederation, the first constitution for the United States. He was unable to sign the Declaration on July 4h, but did later sign it along with his brother, Francis Lightfoot Lee, and many others, in August.

In 1789, Lee and William Grayson were elected as Virginia’s first U.S. senators, encouraging the first 10 amendments. He ended his work when Congress adjourned on May 7, 1792.