[Americana - Manuscript - Virginia] Promissory Note to Pay "Light Horse" Henry Lee, 1799

Note approx. 3 x 8 in., 6 Sept. 1799. Charles R. Thompson promises to pay Henry Lee 119 pounds "Virginia currency" before the first of August next (1800). Endorsed on verso "Henry Lee / William ? Tibbs? & Co."  We were unable to locate this company, but the name is fairly common in Virginia, on into West Virginia and southeastern Ohio.

Henry Lee (III) (1756 - 1818) was a patriot who earned the sobriquet "Light-Horse Harry" from his horsemanship during the American Revolution. Lee had been pursuing a legal career, having graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton Univ.) in 1773, when the fighting began. He became a captain in a Virginia cavalry (dragoon) detachment, attached to the 1st Continental Dragoons. A short time later he was promoted to major and given a mixed unit of infantry and cavalry. It was as head of "Lee's Legion" that he earned his nickname.

Lee married his first wife, "The Divine Matilda" Ludwell in April 1782. They had three children, but Matilda died in 1790. Three years later Henry married Anne Hill Carter, with whom he had six children, the fifth of which was (future CSA General) Robert Edward Lee (1807-1870).

After the war, Henry was a delegate to several conventions (Confederation, Virginia), served on the Virginia Assembly and was Governor of Virginia (1791-1794). He later served in the US House and gave the eulogy for Washington that characterized him as "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." Lee served a year in debtors' prison after losses in the Panic of 1796-1797.

He suffered serious injuries in 1812 while helping his friend, Alexander Hanson, editor of The Federal Republican (newspaper), resist an attack. It is thought to have inflicted serious enough injuries that Lee never really recovered, and contributed to his death in 1818. He was buried in Georgia where he died, but his remains were later (1913) moved to the Lee family crypt on the campus of Washington & Lee University.


Many ink "burns" and moderate toning. However, still very readable.

Estimate: $200 - $400
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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