James McHenry facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
|3rd United States Secretary of War|
January 27, 1796 – May 13, 1800
|President||George Washington (1796-1797)
John Adams (1797-1800)
|Preceded by||Timothy Pickering|
|Succeeded by||Samuel Dexter|
|Born||November 16, 1753
Ballymena, Ulster, Ireland
|Died||May 3, 1816
James McHenry (November 16, 1753 – May 3, 1816) was an early American statesman. McHenry was a signer of the United States Constitution from Maryland and the namesake of Fort McHenry, the bombardment of which inspired Francis Scott Key to write what became the national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". He was also a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland, and the third United States Secretary of War, under Presidents George Washington and John Adams.
McHenry was born at Ballymena, Ulster, (the then northern province of Ireland), in 1753. He enjoyed a classical education at Dublin, and immigrated to Philadelphia in 1771 where he became a physician. He married his wife, Peggy Caldwell, on January 8, 1784.
McHenry served as a skilled and dedicated surgeon during the American Revolutionary War. In 1776 he was appointed surgeon at the age of 23 of the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion stationed at Fort Washington (New York). He was taken prisoner the following November when the fort was taken by Sir William Howe. He was paroled in January 1777, and released from parole in March 1778.
Having sufficiently impressed George Washington, he was appointed aide as secretary to the commander-in-chief in May 1779. McHenry was present at the Battle of Monmouth. In August 1780 he was transferred to major-general Lafayette's staff, where he remained until he retired from the army in the autumn of 1781.
Following the war, McHenry was one of three physicians (others were Hugh Williamson and James McClurg) who participated in the Constitutional Convention to create the new Constitution of the United States.
Washington appointed McHenry Secretary of War in 1796 where he was instrumental in reorganizing the United States Army into one of four regiments of infantry, a troop of dragoons, and a battery of artillery. He is credited with establishing the United States Department of the Navy.
In 1792, McHenry had purchased a 95-acre property and he spent his remaining years there. An attack of paralysis in 1814 left him with severe pain and complete loss of the use of his legs. He died two years later.
Legacy and honors
- Elected member of the American Philosophical Society in January 1786.
- Elected president of the Bible Society of Baltimore in 1813.
- Elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in July 1815.
- McHenry is memorialized at Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
- Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland was named after him.
- Henry Street in Madison, Wisconsin is named in his honor.
- McHenry, Maryland in Garrett County, Maryland was named after him.
Images for kids
Grave of James McHenry at Westminster Hall and Burying Ground in Baltimore
James McHenry Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.