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A Word In Light-horse Harry’s Favor...

March 2023
1min read

The generally balanced report on Robert E. Lee in the May/June issue is not very complimentary toward his Revolutionary hero father, Henry (Light-Horse Harry) Lee, saying he deserted his family. After financial and physical afflictions, he did spend the last few years of his life in the West Indies. Previous to that he served under Washington in the Revolution and was governor of Virginia. As a member of Congress he wrote the resolution on Washington’s death: “First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

As did the financier of the Revolution, Robert Morris of Pennsylvania, Henry Lee expected that the new nation would develop faster than it did. Like Morris, Lee invested heavily in land and went to debtors’ prison when he could not pay what he owed. In part due to mistreatment of such patriots, the people of the United States abolished debtors’ prisons—those sad remnants of old England—and put in place the bankruptcy provisions of the new Constitution.

Light-Horse Harry Lee was seriously injured by a mob in Baltimore during the War of 1812 when he went to the defense of a newspaper editor of that city who had taken an antiwar editorial stand. He never fully recovered.

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