were among the leaders of Virginia's aristocracy ; and when, severing the bonds that tied her to ancient Europe -- when America proclaimed herself free -- two of the Lees were among the signatories of the Declaration of Independence, while another member of the family, Arthur Lee, was Ambassador to France, and developed for the young nation a faithful ally.
During the eight years of fighting against the English power, the Lee family was always on the front line. The family spared neither its possessions nor its blood, and gave Washington one of his most useful assistants, Henry Lee.
Outstanding officer of cavalry, Henry Lee assisted his chief constantly in the long and unrelenting fight he pursued without weakening. He remained his intimate friend after the fight ceased. Unfortunately, he died too soon, when his son, Robert -- with whose life we want to acquaint you -- was only 10-years-old.
One might have feared that the lack of paternal authority would be fatal for the education of the child, but Henry Lee had already managed to imprint in his son's young soul respect for truth and absolute loyalty to duty that were to remain the outstanding features of his character.
One never knows how much good a noble example can do. The memory of Washington, the remembrance of a father worthy
of the friendship of such a man, watched over the child. He
- Henry Lee nicknamed "Lighthorse Harry".