Skip to main content

Lee, William

William Lee, 1739–95, American Revolutionary diplomat, b. Westmoreland co., Va.; brother of Arthur Lee, Francis L. Lee, and Richard H. Lee. He opened a business house in London in 1768 and later was a political supporter of John Wilkes and became (1775) an alderman of London. He accepted appointment by the Continental Congress as an agent for the newly created United States, and later attempted unsuccessfully to obtain recognition from both Austria and Prussia. He and a Dutch merchant made a draft of a possible U.S.-Dutch commercial treaty. The draft, which had no official sanction at all, Lee sent back to America. A copy of it, seized by the British when they captured Henry Laurens, was used as a cause for warfare between Great Britain and the Netherlands.

See his Letters 1766–83, ed. by W. C. Ford (3 vol., 1891; repr. 1971); B. J. Hendrick, The Lees of Virginia (1935).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Lee, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 22 Jun. 2018 <>.

"Lee, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (June 22, 2018).

"Lee, William." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved June 22, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.