Harman Blennerhassett

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Harman Blennerhassett (8 October 1764 – 2 February 1831) was an Irish-American lawyer, born in Castle Conway in County Kerry, Ireland to Conway Blennerhassett and Elizabeth Lacy. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 1790 was called to the Irish bar. After living for several years on the continent, he married in 1796 his niece, Margaret Agnew, daughter of Robert Agnew, the lieutenant-governor of the Isle of Man.

Ostracised by their families for this step, the couple decided to settle in America, where Blennerhassett in 1798 bought a (now-eponymous) island[1]in the Ohio River about 2 miles below what is now Parkersburg, West Virginia. Here in 1805 he received a visit from Aaron Burr, in whose alleged conspiracy[2] he became interested, furnishing liberal funds for its support, and offering the use of his island as a rendezvous for the gathering of arms and supplies and the training of volunteers. When the conspiracy collapsed, the mansion and island were occupied and plundered by the Virginia militia. Blennerhassett fled, was twice arrested and remained a prisoner until after Burr's release.

The island was then abandoned, and Blennerhassett was in turn a cotton planter in Mississippi, and a lawyer (1819-1822) in Montreal, Canada. After returning to Ireland, he died on the island of Guernsey in 1831. His wife, who had considerable literary talent and who published The Deserted Isle (1822) and The Widow of the Rock and Other Poems (1824), returned to the United States in 1840, and died soon afterward in New York City while attempting to obtain through Congress payment for property destroyed on the island.

The buildings on his island have since been restored and the location is now Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, a popular tourist attraction near Parkersburg.

References

  • Burke, Micheal. "A Chronicle of the Life of Harman Blennerhassett." West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly Vol. XIII, No. 1, January 1999. West Virginia Historical Society
  • Swick, Ray. "A Brief Sketch of Blennerhassett Island." Blennerhasset Historic Foundation. blennerhassett.net Accessed September 6, 2007
  • Swick, Ray. "Harman Blennerhassett: Irish Aristocrat and Frontier Entrepreneur." Essays In History. Volume 14, (1968-1969) The History Club Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia, pp. 51–71.blennerhassett.net Accessed September 6, 2007
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Blennerhassett, Harman". Encyclopædia Britannica (Eleventh ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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