HARRISON, Benjamin

1726–1791

Biography

HARRISON, Benjamin, (father of Carter Bassett Harrison and William Henry Harrison, grandfather of John Scott Harrison, great–grandfather of Benjamin Harrison [1833–1901] and great–great–great grandfather of William Henry Harrison [1896–]), a Delegate from Virginia; born on the plantation "Berkeley," Charles City County, Va., April 5, 1726; pursued classical studies and attended the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va.; member of the colonial house of burgesses 1749-1775; member of the Virginia revolutionary convention in March, July, and December, 1775; Member of the Continental Congress 1774-1777; as chairman of the Committee of the Whole House he reported the resolution on June 10, 1776, offered three days before by Richard Henry Lee, declaring the independence of the American Colonies, and reported the Declaration of Independence, of which he was one of the signers, on July 4, 1776; resigned in 1778; member of the State house of delegates 1776-1782 and 1787-1791 and served as speaker 1778-1782, 1785, and 1786; Governor of Virginia 1782-1784; delegate to the State convention for the ratification of the Federal Constitution in 1788; died at his home, "Berkeley," Charles City County, Va., April 24, 1791; interment on Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, Charles City County, Va.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Huntington Library
Manuscripts Department

San Marino, CA
Papers: ca. 1779-1788, 57 items. The papers include letters, dispatches, communications, and petitions received by Harrison during his service as Speaker of the State House of Delegates and Governor of Virginia. Included are letters of acceptance and resignation from Virginia members of the Continental Congress, communications relating to taxation, raising of troops, procurement for the army, restitutions, bailing of prisoners, and other aspects of the Revolutionary War in Virginia. Also included is Harrison's last will and testament. The inventory of the estate includes a list of slaves. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library

Williamsburg, VA
Papers: 1784, 1 page. A document signed by Harrison granting land in Botetourt County to Robert McElhany, May 1, 1784.

Copley Press, Inc.
J. S. Copley Library

La Jolla, CA
Papers: ca. 1774-1778, 1 page. A letter from Harrison, during his service as Chairman of War of Continental Congress, issuing "A List of Necessaries wanted by the Virga. Horse..." Including "109 Slings... 217 Canteens... 5 Drums... 213 Carbines... 215 Tomahawks..."

Dartmouth College
Rauner Special Collections Library

Hanover, NH
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A certificate from Harrison, in his role as Virginia governor, certifying that Francis Turner is entitled to the allotment of land granted to a private in the U.S. army.

Duke University
Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1780-1785, 5 items. The papers include Harrison's letters as governor of Virginia concerning the importation of salt, the commission to regulate navigation on the Potomac River and a land grant to Robert Cunningham. The collection also includes two typed copies of his will.

Kentucky Historical Society Library

Frankfort, KY
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A decree appointing Harry Innes as assistant judge of the Supreme Court of the Kentucky District in the state of Virginia. He was chosen for this position by the House of Burgesses and appointed by Harrison.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1770-1787, 9 items. Papers dating from Harrison's time as governor of Virginia and as a member of the Continental Congress.

The Library of Virginia
Archives Division

Richmond, VA
Papers: 1760, 2 pages. The papers include photocopies of a deed to land belonging to Benjamin and Elizabeth Harrison of Charles City County, Virginia.
Papers: 1780, 1 item. A will written by Harrison on January 3, 1780. In it, Harrison leaves his estate to his wife Elizabeth Harrison, his sons and daughters, as well as his niece, nephew, and grandson. Assets of his estate include the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County and numerous slaves.
Papers: 1782, 1 page. A March 23, 1782 letter from Harrison notifying William Fleming that the meeting of the commissioners on the Ohio has been scheduled for November 1, 1782.
Papers: In the Harrison Family papers, ca. 1774-1795, 7 items. Subjects covered in the papers include Harrison. An inventory for the papers is available in the repository.

The Morgan Library
Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts

New York, NY
Papers: 1777, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to an unidentified recipient written on November 8, 1777.
Papers: 1778, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to an unidentified recipient written on March 3, 1778.
Papers: 1779, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to an unidentified recipient written on November 6, 1779.
Papers: In the Ford Collection, 1782, 1 item. A letter from Harrison, in council, to Colonel Campbell written on February 13, 1782.
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to an unidentified recipient written on May 27, 1782.
Papers: 1786, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to Colonel Samuel Smith written on July 30, 1786, in which Harrison writes concerning the transfer of funds to Mr. Bache in New York.
Papers: In the Ford collection, 1790, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to Samuel Myers written on January 16, 1790.

New-York Historical Society
Manuscript Collection

New York, NY
Papers: 1787, 1 volume. A letterbook kept by Harrison at Richmond in the course of his business activities. The book contains copies of his letters to other merchants and business associates pertaining to his trade in tobacco, his coal business, credit, settlement of accounts, imports and exports, wines, wheat, ginseng, and other articles. A partial index to the papers is available in the repository.

Ohio Historical Society

Columbus, OH
Papers: 1782, 1 item. A note from Harrison, Governor of Virginia, to an unidentified recipient written on March 28, 1782. Harrison directs someone to furnish provisions and guard to bring "the negroes" there.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1777, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to Robert Morris written on December 18, 1777. Harrison writes concerning popular feeling in Virginia against "monopolists"; attacks on George Washington's character by Samuel and John Adams; Virginia's ratification of the Articles of Confederation; and effect of the British blockade on shipping.
Papers: 1781, 1 item. A letter from Harrison to Robert Morris written on December 28, 1781, concerning his election as governor of Virginia.
Papers: 1782, 1 page. A letter from Harrison to George Washington written on June 23, 1782, in which Harrison informs George Washington of occurrences in the Virginia Assembly, including debate about recruiting fresh troops.
Papers: 1783, 1 item. A letter from Harrison in reply to a request for a list of persons banished from Virginia during the war. He writes that the state has not kept such a list, but he names several persons who committed such depredations that they should not be allowed to return.

University of Virginia
Small Special Collections Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: In the Tracy W. McGregor collection, 1782, 1 item. A letter from James Madison to Harrison regarding debates in Congress, the battle of St. Kitts and British peace proposals.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Smith, Howard W. (Howard William). Benjamin Harrison and the American Revolution. Edward M. Riley, editor. Williamsburg, Va.: Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission, 1978.

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