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William Henry Harrison: Early Life

William Henry Harrison was born at Berkeley, his father's plantation near Charles City, Virginia, on February 9, 1773 the youngest of seven children (four girls and three boys).

Berkeley Plantation house as it looks today.

The Harrisons had been in America since the 1630's, and Benjamin Harrison, William's father, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and Governor of Virginia (1781-1784). His mother, Elizabeth Bassett Harrison, was from a family whose American roots also went back to the mid-1600's; she was also a niece of Martha Washington. William Henry Harrison grew up during the Revolutionary War and may well have watched Continental troops marching past his family's plantation on their way to some of the war's greatest battles.

Originally tutored at home, Harrison entered Hampden-Sydney College in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1787, but left after three years because his father wanted him to study medicine. His father died in 1791, leaving the bulk of his estate to William's older brothers. Short of money and not enthusiastic about a career in medicine, the young man quickly left medical school to pursue a military career. He used his family's connections with the Lee and Washington families to procure an officer's rank in an infantry division and, at age eighteen, set off for Fort Washington in the Northwest Territory.

See Also

Martha Washington
Revolutionary War

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The Robinson Library >> William Henry Harrison

This page was last updated on August 30, 2018.