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McHenry family papers

Identifier: MS 3232


The McHenry family papers consists of correspondence written by James McHenry (1753-1816), his wife Margaret Caldwell McHenry (1762-1833), and their son John McHenry (1791-1822). Also included are John McHenry's military commissions as an officer during the War of 1812.


  • 1809 - 1822


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

James McHenry was born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, November 16, 1753 and immigrated to the United States about 1771, settling in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Newark Academy in Delaware, and studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush in Philadelphia. During the Revolution he was appointed assistant surgeon in 1776 and later surgeon in the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion. He served as secretary to General Washington from 1778-1780 until being appointed to the staff of General Lafayette, serving in that capacity until the end of the war. McHenry was a member of the Maryland State Senate from 1781-1786, a member of the Continental Congress from 1783-1785, and a delegate from Maryland to the Federal Constitutional convention in Philadelphia in 1787. He served as Secretary of War under both Presidents Washington and Adams from January 29, 1796 to May 13, 1800. McHenry resided at “Fayetteville,” his country estate near Baltimore until his death on May 3, 1816. He is interred in Westminster (Presbyterian) Churchyard, Baltimore, MD.

On January 8, 1784, James McHenry married Margaret Allison Caldwell (1762-1833), the only living daughter of Philadelphia merchant David Caldwell. James and Margaret McHenry had five children: Grace (1785-1789), Daniel William (1786-1814), Sophia (1794-1874), Anna, and John (1791-1822). John McHenry married Juliana Elizabeth Howard (1796-1821), the daughter of John Eager Howard. They had one son, James Howard McHenry.


0.21 Linear Feet (5 folders)

Language of Materials



The letters are arranged chronologically by the author. John McHenry's military commissions are filed together.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Gaylord Holmes, August 2021.

Related Materials

MS 3076 John McHenry family papers, 1764-1947 MS 1476 James McHenry papers, 1776-1963 MS 0544 James Howard McHenry papers, 1810-1885 MS 0544.1 James Howard McHenry journals, 1836-1878 MS 0544.2 James Howard McHenry account books, 1843-1901 MS 0647 McHenry family papers

Scope and Contents

The McHenry family papers consists of correspondence written by James McHenry (1753-1816), his wife Margaret Caldwell McHenry (1762-1833), and their son John McHenry (1791-1822). The bulk of the collection consists of letters from Margaret McHenry to her children. Topics mostly concern family news and updates about family members' health. John McHenry's letters to his sister and mother mention his marriage to Juliana Howard, yellow fever in Baltimore, the birth of his son, and the death of his wife in 1821. There are four letters written by James McHenry to his daughter Anna and son John. Also included are John McHenry's military commissions during his service in the War of 1812.

Guide to the McHenry family papers
Mallory Herberger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States