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Benjamin Harrison V
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U.S. Governor
    (April 5, 1726-April 24, 1791)
    Born in Charles City County, Virginia
    Representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses (1756-58,1766-76,1785-86,1787-90)
    Delegate to the Continental Congress (1774-77)
    Signed the Declaration of Independence
    Governor of Virginia (1781-84)
    Father of US President William Henry Harrison
    Great-grandfather of US President Benjamin Harrison
    He owned slaves.
    Although he helped write Virginia’s official protest against the Stamp Act, after the Act took effect, he opposed Patrick Henry’s call for civil disobedience as a protest.
    In his diary, John Adams called him ‘obscene,’ ‘profane’ and ‘impious.’
    In paintings like John Trumbull’s ‘The Declaration of Independence,’ his image is usually based on his son Benjamin VI, since almost all portraits of him had been burned during a British raid on his plantation.
    He presided over the debates at the Continental Congress over declaring independence.
    He was known for his sense of humor, with John Adams admitting that ‘[His] many pleasantries steadied rough sessions.’
    During the signing of the Declaration of Independence, he quipped to fellow delegate Elbridge Gerry, ‘I shall have a great advantage over you, Mr. Gerry, when we are all hung for what we are now doing. From the size and weight of my body I shall die in a few minutes and be with the Angels, but from the lightness of your body you will dance in the air an hour or two before you are dead.’
    In a raid led by turncoat Benedict Arnold, much of his plantation was destroyed (1781).

Credit: C. Fishel


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