Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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McHENRY, James, statesman, born in Ireland, 16 November, 1753; died in Baltimore, Maryland, 3 May, 1816. He received a classical education in Dublin, subsequently, on account of delicate health, made a voyage to this country, and came to Philadelphia about 1771. He induced his father to emigrate, and after following his studies in Newark, Delaware, he studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia, and subsequently accompanied Washington to the camp at Cambridge. He joined the army as assistant surgeon in January, 1776, in a short time he was appointed medical director, and subsequently surgeon to the 5th Pennsylvania battalion, he was made prisoner at Fort Washington, and was not exchanged until the spring of 1778. On 15 May of that year he became secretary to Washington, and his relations with the latter continued through life to be those of a trusted friend and adviser. Dr. McHenry held this office until 1780, and then was transferred to the staff of Lafayette, where he remained till the close of the war. He was in the Maryland senate in 1781-'6, in 1783 was appointed to congress in place of Edward Giles, and held office until 1786. double duty in the state and continental legislatures being customary at that time. He became a member of the United States constitutional convention the next year, was the first of the delegates from Maryland to take his seat, and was a regular attendant, although he took little part in debate. He afterward labored to secure the ratification of the constitution, and was successful, notwithstanding the powerful opposition of Luther Martin and Samuel Chase. He was repeatedly re-elected to the Maryland legislature until he became a member of Washington's cabinet as secretary of war in January, 1796, in place of Timothy Pickering, who was promoted to secretary of state, holding office throughout his administration and under President Adams until 1801. After that service he retired from public life. Fort McHenry was named in his honor.
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