Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Elizabeth Bassett Harrison

                    Elizabeth Bassett married Benjamin Harrison, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  She was the daughter of Colonel William Bassett and was born about 1741 or 1742 on her father's estate "Eltham" in Kent County.  We do not know much about her girlhood or even the exact day of her birth or marriage.  We do know that she was famous for "her beauty and her accomplishments as a girl" and for "her exemplary piety and benevolence" in her later life.  We also know that she was related to many of the "most noted families of Virginia" and that "her father was a man of wealth and social prominence."  It is probably safe to assume that "she was a gracious hostess" and "a mother of the true Old Dominion type" because her sons and daughters were of "such high character."

                    Benjamin Harrison was the son of Benjamin Harrison, "one of the largest landholders and one of the most prominent men of Virginia, and Anne Carter, "daughter of Robert Carter, "King Carter of Corotoman," Lancaster County, Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Rector of William and Mary College.  Benjamin Harrison, the father, was killed by a lightning strike, when Benjamin, his son, was still a minor.  As the eldest of six sons, Benjamin became the head of the house and owner of the estate known as Berkley.  After his marriage to Elizabeth, he took her home to Berkley, and they lived there the remainder of their lives.

                    Benjamin was very active in the patriot cause of liberty and served with honor in many different and important offices.  He was Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Governor of Virginia, a member of several Continental Congresses, and signer of the Declaration of Independence.

                    Numerous children were born to Benjamin and Elizabeth, but only seven survived infancy - three sons and four daughters.  Two daughters were killed in the same stroke of lightning that killed their father.  The children are as follows:  1) Benjamin (worked in the counting room of Robert Morris in Philadelphia; visited Europe where he made several important business connections; served as Paymaster General of the Southern Department during the Revolutionary War; established himself as a merchant in Philadelphia where he gained a large fortune which he sacrificed to help Robert Morris in his need; married twice, first to Anne Mercer and second to Susannah Randolph); 2) Carter Bassett (graduated from William and Mary College; became a lawyer; served in both the State Legislature and as a member of Congress in 1793; married Mary Howell Allen); 3) William Henry Harrison (was educated at Hampden Sidney College in Virginia; served in the army; became President of the United States in 1841; married Anne Symmes; great-grandfather of President Benjamin Harrison); 4) Lucy (married her cousin, Peyton Randolph, nephew of Peyton Randolph, the first President of Congress); 5) Anne (married David O. Copeland ); 6) Sarah (married John Wing of Weynoke).  There was no mention of the fourth daughter.

                    Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 247-250.


  1. That was very helpful!! Thank you!!!

  2. You are very welcome. I am glad that I could help you. Are you by any chance doing genealogy work? I am just curious.

  3. Thank you for making this post! I am a descendent of President William Henry Harrison, through his mother Elizabeth Bassett. This is very helpful in learning more of my blood line.

  4. I am so pleased that it helps someone. Thank you for letting me know. It means a lot to me.

  5. Please cite your sources on some of this information that you have posted as they are not matching what I have. The Harrison part of my lineage (starting with): Benjamin IV (wife Anne Carter)-->Benjamin V (wife Elizabeth Bassett)-->Carter Bassett (wife Mary H. Allen)-->Benjamin C. (wife Elizabeth C. Harrison)-->Anna Carter (husband Richard Henry Adams)-->down to me. I have a big family tree that was made around 1932.

  6. Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers - The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 247-250. This is the source I used.