The mulatto slave Billy Lee, Washington’s valet, butler and personal attendant, may have been one of Washington’s closest confidents according to a BookCast interview with Joseph Ellis author of His Excellency: George Washington posted on the Fairfax County Public Library’s Web site.
As described on the Mt. Vernon's Web site, his duties included taking care of Washington’s clothes, powdering and curling his wig, taking mail to the post office in Alexandria. Lee seems to have joined Washington’s estate in 1768.
During the Revolutionary War, Lee accompanied Washington and took care of his important papers. But, two crippling knee injuries prevented Lee from serving as Washington’s valet when he became president.
Lee asked Washington to bring his wife, Margaret Lee, to Mt. Vernon after the war, and Washington made the arrangements, but it is unclear if she did ever live on the estate.
Lee’s brother Frank, served as a butler in the Mt. Vernon Mansion House after Billy’s injuries. He was married to a cook named Lucy. The couple had at least three children.
In his will, Washington freed Billy, gave him food, clothing and a generous allowance at the time of $30 a year.
Save This Date:
September 27 at 7:30 p.m. Center for the Arts -- Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Joseph J. Ellis, author of the 2007 All Fairfax Reads selection, His Excellency: George Washington discusses his biography. Books will be available for sale and signing courtesy of Barnes & Noble - GMU. Free; first come first served; no registration required.
Other All Fairfax Reads Events:
September 10 at 7:30 p.m., Sherwood Regional Library. James Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon: George Washington’s Estate & Gardens, discusses his book, George Washington’s Leadership Lessons: What the Father of Our Country Can Teach Us About Effective Leadership and Character.
September 18 at 7 p.m., Kings Park Library. Patricia Brady discusses her book, Martha Washington: An American Life. Books for sale and signing,courtesy of Borders-Tysons Corner.
September 20 at 7:30 p.m. Reston Regional Library. Actor Brian Hilton portrays George Washington and describes his life from 1732-1760.