McHenry, James

McHenry, James (1753-1816) Signer of the Constitution, Secretary of War: James McHenry was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, on November 16, 1753. After moving to Philadelphia in 1771, he attended academy in Newark, Delaware, and studied medicine with Dr. Benjamin Rush. During the Revolutionary War, he served in the Continental Army as a surgeon, and was captured at Fort Washington by the British. He was exchanged in 1778. He served as private secretary to General Washington until 1780, when he joined General LaFayette's staff. Later serving in the Maryland Senate, he was a member of the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1786. At the 1787 Philadelphia Convention, McHenry signed the Constitution, later attending the Maryland ratifying convention. President Washington appointed him Secretary of War in 1796. In 1800, however, President Adams requested his resignation when McHenry supported Hamilton's policy on the threatened war with France. After his resignation, McHenry lived in retirement in Fayetteville, Maryland. Fort McHenry in Baltimore was named after him. He died in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 5, 1816.