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Here he soon became distinguished for his ability, his integrity, and his strict attention to business. In 1764, Mr. Huntington represented the town of Norwich in the General Assembly; and the following year was appointed to the office of King's Attorney. In 1774, he became an Associate Judge in the Superior Court, and soon after an assistant in the Council of Connecticut.
His talents and patriotism recommending him to public confidence, he was elected in 1775 a delegate to the Continental Congress. In the subsequent July, he voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Hunting ton continued a member of Congress until the year 1781 when ill health induced him to resign. On the departure of Mr. Jay as minister to Spain, he had been appointed to the presidency of the Congress, and had served in that honorable station with distinguished ability and dignity. In testimony of their approbation of his conduct in the chair, and in the execution of public business, Congress, soon after his retirement, accorded to Mr. Huntington the expression of their public thanks. On his return to his native State, he resumed his judicial functions, and in 1782 was re-elected to Congress. He did not attend, however, till the following year, when he resumed his seat. He continued a conspicuous member, until November, at which time he finally retired from the national assembly.
Soon after his return to Connecticut, he was placed at the head of the Superior Court, and the following year was chosen Lieutenant Governor of the State. In 1786, he succeeded Governor Griswold in the office of Chief Magistrate, and was annually re-elected to that station during the remainder of his life. His death took place on the 5th of January, 1796, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. Mr. Huntington was a sincere Christian, and few men possessed a greater share of mildness and equanimity of temper. He rose from the humble situation of a ploughboy by his own industry and perseverance, and without the advantage of family patronage or influence. He married in the thirtieth year of his age; but having no children, he adopted a son and daughter of his brother the Rev. Joseph Huntington.
FRANCIS LIGHTFOOT LEE. FBANCIS Lightfoot Lee was born in Virginia, in 1734. He was the fourth son of Thomas Lee, who for several years held the office of President of the King's Council. Francis Lightfoot did not receive the advantage enjoyed by his elder brothers, of an education at the English universities. He was placed, however, under the care of an accomplished domestic tutor, of the name of Craig, and acquired an early fondness for literature. He became well versed in the most important branches of science, and probably obtained as good an education as the country could then afford. The fortune bequeathed him by his father rendered the study of a profession unnecessary, and he accordingly surrendered himself for several years, to the enjoyment of literary ease and social intercourse. He possessed, however, an active mind, and warmly interested himself in the advancement of his country. In 1765, he was returned a member of the House of Burgesses from the county of Loudon, where his estate was situated. He was annually re-elected to this office until 1772, when, having married a lady of Richmond county, he removed thither, and was soon after chosen by the citizens of that place to the same station.
In 1775, Mr. Lee was appointed by the Virginia Convention a delegate to the Continental Congress. He took his seat in this assembly; and, though he seldom engaged in the public discussions, was surpassed by none in his zeal to forward the interests of the colonies. His brother, Richard Henry Lee, had the high honor of bringing for. ward the momentous question of independence, but no one was perhaps a warmer friend of the measure than Francis Lighifoot.
Mr. Lee retired from Congress in 1779. He was fondly attached to the pleasures of home, and eagerly sought an opportunity, when his services were not essentially needed by his country, to resume the undisturbed quiet of his former life. He was not long permitted to enjoy his seclusion. He reluctantly obeyed the summons of his fellow-citizens to represent them once more in the Legislature of Virginia. His duties were most faithfully dis
charged while a member of this body: but he soon became weary of the bustle and vexations of public life, and relinquished them for the pleasures of retirement. In the latter period of his life, he found an unfailing source of happiness to himself, in contributing largely to the enjoyment of others. His benevolence and the urbanity of his manners rendered him beloved by all. He was a practical friend to the poor, and a companion to the young or the aged, the lighthearted or the broken in spirit. Having no children, he devoted his time chiefly to reading, farming, and company. His death was occasioned by a pleurisy, which disease also terminated the life of his wife a few days after his own departure. He died in the consoling belief of the Gospel, and in peace with all mankind and his own conscience.
The brothers of Mr. Lee were all eminently distinguished for their talents and for their services to their country. Philip Ludwell, a member of the King's Council; Thomas Ludwell, a member of the Virginia Assembly; Richard Henry, as the champion of American freedom; William, as a sheriff and alderman of London, and afterwards a Commissioner of the Continental Con.. gress at the courts of Berlin and Vienna; and Arthur, as a scholar, a politician, and diplomatist.
RICHARD HENRY LEE. RICHARD HENRY Lee, a brother of the foregoing, was born at Stratford, Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 20th of January, 1732. He received his education in England, where his acquisitions were considerable in scientific and classical knowledge. He returned to his native country when in his nineteenth year, and devoted himself to the general study of history, politics, law, and polite literature, without engaging in any particular profession.
About the year 1757, he was chosen a delegate to the House of Burgesses, where a natural diffidence for some time prevented him from displaying the full extent of his powers and resources. This impediment, however, was gradually removed, aud he rapidly rose into notice as a persuasive and eloquent speaker. In 1764, he was appointed to draught an address to the king, and a memorial to the House of Lords, which are among the best state papers of the period. Some years afterwards, he brought forward his celebrated plan for the formation of a committee of correspondence, whose object was “to watch the conduct of the British Parliament; to spread more widely correct information on topics connected with the interests of the colonies, and to form a chosen union of the men of influence in each.” This plan was origi. nated about the same time in Massachusetts, by Samue! Adams.
The efforts of Mr. Lee in resisting the various encroachments of the British government were indefatigable, and in 1774 he attended the first General Congress at Philadelphia, as a delegate from Virginia. He was a member of most of the important committees of this body, and labored with unceasing vigilance and energy. The memorial of Congress to the people of British America, and the second address of Congress to the people of Greai Britain, were both from his pen. The following year, he was again deputed to represent Virginia in the same assembly, and his exertions were equally zealous and successful. Among other responsible duties, he was appointed, as chairman of a committee, to furnish General Washington, who had been summoned to the command of the American armies, with his commission and instructions.
On the 7th of June, 1776, Mr. Lee introduced the measure, which declared, “ 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 connexion between them and the State of Great Britian is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.” This important motion he supported by a speech of the most brilliant eloquence. “Why then, Sir,” said he, in conclusion, “why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate ? Let this happy day give birth to an American republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to re-establish the reign of peace and of law. The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us; she de
mands of us a living exampie of freedom, that may ex
uibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever.acreasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum, where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repose. She invites us to cultivate a propitious soil, where that generous plant which first sprang up and grew in England, but is now withered by the poisonous blasts of Scottish tyranny, may revive and flourish, sheltering under its salubrious and interminable shade, all the unfortunate of the human race. If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American legislators of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of Theseus, Lycurgus, and Romulus, of the three Williams of Nassau, and of all those whose memory has been, and ever will be, dear to virtuous men and good citizens."
The debate on the above motion of Mr. Lee, was protracted until the tenth of June, when Congress resolved : “That the consideration of the resolution respecting independence, be postponed till the first Monday in July next; and in the meanwhile, that no time may be lost, in case the Congress, agree thereto, that a committee be appointed to prepare a declaration to the effect of the said resolution."
As the mover of the original resolution for independence, it would, according to parliamentary usage, have devolved upon Mr. Lee to have been appointed chairman of the committee selected to prepare a declaration, and, as chairman, to have furnished that important document. But on the day on which the resolution was taken, Mr. Lee was unexpectedly summoned to attend upon his family in Virginia, some of the members of which were dangerously ill; and Mr. Jefferson was appointed chairman in his place.
Mr. Lee continued to hold a seat in Congress till June, 1777, when he solicited leave of absence, on account of the delicate state of his health. In August, of the next year, he was again elected to Congress, and continued in ihat body till 1780, when he declined a re-election, believing that he would be more useful to his native State by holding a seat in her Assembly. In 1784, kowever,