Tuesday, July 28, 2015
The man who would have written the Declaration of Independence
History is made by people at places on dates, which is why socialist professors insist that history is not about names and places and dates. Facts get in the way of The Narrative, which is Marxist through and through.
One of the key moments and places in American history occurred in August 1774, when John Adams and the rest of the Massachusetts delegation to the Continental Congress met Dr. Benjamin Rush and other members of the Pennsylvania delegation at the Jolly Post Inn, a tavern in Frankford, Pennsylvania, to plot their strategy to get the colonies to unanimously declare their independence. The Frankford Advice was a brilliant strategy that in a mere two years would push the colonies to declare their independence.
And that petition would have been written not by Thomas Jefferson, but by Richard Henry Lee, if not for his wife's illness in June 1776 which forced him to return home briefly. A healthier wife may have made a great nation greater.
But Lee was the one who officially moved that the Second Continental Congress declare independence. And 15 years later, he wrote the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, a document he opposed because it gave the central government too much power.
Years after the Frankford meeting, Adams -- a prolific writer -- disclosed the Frankford Advice: "This was plain dealing … and there appeared so much wisdom and good sense in it, that it made a deep impression on my mind … without it, Mr. Washington would never have commanded our armies; nor Mr. Jefferson have been the author of the Declaration of Independence; nor Mr. Richard Henry Lee the mover of it; nor Mr. [Samuel] Chase the mover of foreign connections … You inquire why so young a man as Mr. Jefferson [then 33 years old] was placed at the head of the committee for preparing a Declaration of Independence? I answer: It was the Frankford Advice."
Virginia was the most populous Southern colony. While Massachusetts and Pennsylvania could successfully push in their direction New York and other Northern and Mid-Atlantic colonies, the South was another matter. Without Virginia, there would be no united front and without a united front, there would be no independence for anyone.
Fortunately, the Virginians were talented. They made the firebrand Patrick Henry their first elected governor for a reason. And really, no one but George Washington could have pulled off the defeat of the mightiest army in the world.
Lee's quest for independence began in England itself. Born on January 20, 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Lee's father was later governor. He sent his son to England for an education, but along with learning the arts, the sciences, and the law, Richard Henry Lee learned how the British treated the colonists -- with disdain. He may have been an Englishman, but he was a second-class one in the eyes of the people in England.
But he also toured European nations and found that they lacked the industry and liberty of the British. He was torn.
Upon return to Virginia in 1757 at age 25, he began a law career and a life in politics. He was a tall and imposing man with great oratorical skills. On December 3, 1757, he married Anne Aylett. Early in 1768, a rifle exploded while he was hunting, costing him four fingers on his left hand. He wore a glove for the rest of his life to hide the wound.. Then his wife died of pleurisy in December 1768. Four of their children survived into adulthood. The next summer, he married a recently widowed. Anne Gaskins-Pinckard, 30, with whom he had five children, all of whom survived childhood.
First elected to the House of Burgesses in 1758, Lee took on the powerful James River faction headed by John Robinson, who had been both treasurer of the colony and speaker of the House for more than 20 years. Lee knew Robinson was corrupt, but it was not until the man died in 1766 that Virginia discovered its treasury was light by 100,000 pounds. Term limits and a maximum age for legislators should be mandatory. lee made many powerful enemies exposing the crook, albeit post-mortem.
Richard Henry Lee also spoke out against slavery, even though that was the way of his plantation life. In 1759, he introduced his first bill boldly proposed “to lay so heavy a duty on the importation of slaves as to put an end to that iniquitous and disgraceful traffic within the colony of Virginia.” He also wrote in that bill that Africans were “equally entitled to liberty and freedom by the great law of nature.”
Imagine how different the Declaration of Independence might have been in the hands of such a Patriot. However, just as his 1759 bill went no place, perhaps a Declaration of Independence For Slaves, Too, would never have gotten out of committee. The Frankford Advice likely included mention of allowing sleeping dogs to complete their naps.
Lee did have the honor of making the motion to declare independence on June 7, 1776. The motion came at the right moment. Lee had written his brother, “There never appeared more perfect unanimity among any sett of men, than among the delegates.”
But John Hancock, the president of that body, tabled the motion until July 1, 1776, to allow Jefferson and company to craft their petition. This gave Lee time to return home and tend to his wife. he came back in time to vote for independence and to sign the petition a month later.
Throughout the war he served in the Virginia legislature and the Continental Congress. But later he opposed the Constitution. Nevertheless, he served in the first U.S. Senate and wrote the Tenth Amendment, which was his way of trying to reign in federal government. It reads: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
The nation ratified Lee's amendment on December 15, 1791. He retired from public service the next year, and died on June 19, 1794, a Patriot and perhaps the nation's first abolitionist.