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 James McHenry

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James McHenry

  • Birth 16 Nov 1753 Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
  • Death 3 May 1816 Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
  • Burial Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA
  • Memorial ID 4715

Presidential Cabinet Secretary, United States Constitution Signer. Born and educated in Ireland he moved to America in 1771 settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He helped his family establish an import business in Baltimore, Maryland while at the same finishing school and studying medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush. His mentor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, provided the young student with an excellent medical education and with a passion to see an independent America. The young doctor's zeal led him to join the Patriot cause serving as a military surgeon. In the winter of 1776 he was captured by British forces in New York. Two years later he was released and assigned to Valley Forge where he became a secretary for George Washington. He remained with Washington until 1780. In 1781 he abandoned his medical practice and resigned his military commission to become involved in politics. From 1781 to 1796 he served in the Maryland state legislature. For part of that period he also had a seat in the Continental Congress. The statesman was also selected to represent Maryland at the Constitutional Convention held in Philadelphia in 1787. Family illness kept him from playing an active public role in the convention but he kept a detailed diary of the events which has become an important historical document. After the convention he returned to the Maryland legislature where he was vocal in espousing his Federalist ideals while urging the state's ratification of the new nation's constitution. In 1796 President George Washington asked his friend to serve in his cabinet as Secretary of War. He held that position until 1800 when disputes with the nation's new president, John Adams, led to his forced resignation. He retired to Maryland where he spent his final days heading up a Bible society. He was honored when Ft. McHenry located on Baltimore Bay was named in his honor. The fort became famous as the site where Francis Scott Key penned the words to the United State's national anthem during the War of 1812. He died at the age of sixty-two.

Bio by: Bigwoo


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 Mar 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4715
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James McHenry (16 Nov 1753–3 May 1816), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4715, citing Westminster Burial Ground, Baltimore, Baltimore City, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .