The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Harrison, Benjamin (statesman)

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HARRISON, Benjamin, American statesman: b. Berkeley, Va., about 1740; d, April 1791. While a very young man he was elected to the house of burgesses of which he was twice speaker, and in 1773 was chosen a member of the committee which united the colonies against Great Britain. He was a member of the Continental Congress, 1774–77, being a member of many important committees, especially in connection with the conduct of the War of the Revolution, and on 4 July 1776, reported, as chairman of the committee of the whole House, the Declaration of Independence, of which he was one of the signers. He was opposed to the ratification of the Federal Constitution, but after its adoption supported the national government. Upon his return to Virginia he was immediately re-elected to the house of burgesses and served as its speaker until 1782. From 1872-85 he was governor of Virginia. His brother, Charles, was a noted general in the American army during the Revolution, his son, William Henry Harrison (q.v.), became ninth President of the United States, and his great-grandson and namesake, Benjamin Harrison (q.v.), 23d President of the United States. Consult Lossing, B. J., ‘Biographical Sketches of the Signers of the Declaration of American Independence, etc.’ (New York 1854); Sanderson, J., ‘Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence’ (revised ed., Philadelphia 1865); Spark, J., ed., ‘The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, etc.’ (12 vols., Boston 1829-30); United States Continental Congress, ‘Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-77’ (W. C. Ford, ed., Vols. I-IX, Washington 1904-07).