Author: James McHenry

James McHenry, c. 1796-1800, by James Sharples Senior

James McHenry (1753–1816) was born in Ireland and immigrated to the American colonies as a young man. He attended Newark Academy—now the University of Delaware—and studied under Dr. Benjamin Rush, future signer of the Declaration of Independence, in order to become a physician. During the Revolutionary War, McHenry served as a surgeon and, after a brief period as a prisoner of war, as a secretary to General George Washington. After the war, he served in several state offices in Maryland and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. In 1796, he was appointed by George Washington as the nation’s third Secretary of War, a position he kept under President John Adams.