The Richmond History Podcast

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Harrison's Electrifying Story

Berkley Plantation
 Benjamin Harrison IV built a beautiful house called Berkley Plantation in Charles City County, VA and his family has been important to the story of United States.  He was also the first in his family to graduate form college receiving diploma from William & Mary.  His son Benjamin Harrison V probably would have received a degree from his dad's alma mater had his dad not gotten in the in the way of a storm.

Benjamin Harrison V
On the stormy night of July 12, 1745, Benjamin Harrison IV went up stairs to close the shutters with his 2 daughters, Hanna and Lucy.  All three were killed by a single lightening strike.  Hearing of the death of his father and 2 sisters, Benjamin Harrison V came home to run Berkley Plantation. 

Benjamin Harrison V didn't let his lack of a diploma hold him back.  He went on to sign The Declaration of Independence, to become the Governor of Virginia from 1781-1784, and to father our 9th President, William Henry Harrison.

William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison was the first Whig President, the oldest elected President at age 68 years, 23 days (he held that record until 1980 when President Ronald Reagan was elected at the age of 69 years, 349 day), and the first to die in office, only 30 days into his presidency, giving him the distinction of having the shortest Presidency.  His death also prevented him from witnessing his grandson President Benjamin Harrison becoming the 23rd making William Henry the only President with Presidential grandson.

Benjamin Harrison 23rd President
Don't bother goggling it... Ben Franklin didn't start his electrical experiments that would lead to the lightening rod until 17491, and yes there is a lightening rod on top of The Berkley Plantation today.

Luckily the plantation house built in 1726 was not destroyed by the murderous lightening strike that came in the second story window in 1745.  Lucky for us the plantation house is still standing and open for tours.  To visit and learn more about a visit.

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