The New International Encyclopædia/Harrison, Benjamin (patriot)

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HARRISON, Benjamin (c.1740-91). An American Revolutionary patriot, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, born at Berkeley, Va. As a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, in 1765, he opposed the Stamp Act Resolutions of Patrick Henry, which he considered to be impolitic and premature. From 1774 to 1777 he was one of Virginia's representatives in the Continental Congress, and was a member of many important committees, though he rendered the greatest service as president of the Board of War. From 1777 to 1782 he was Speaker of the House of Burgesses, and from 1782 to 1785—for two terms—was Governor of the State. In 1788 he was a member of the Virginia convention which ratified the Federal Constitution, though he, along with Patrick Henry and other men of prominence, opposed it—largely because of the absence of a bill of rights. He was the father of William Henry Harrison (q.v.). Consult Sanderson, Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, ed. by Brotherhead (Philadelphia, 1865).