William Henry Harrison

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William Henry Harrison
William harrison.jpg
9th President of the United States
From: March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
Vice President John Tyler
Predecessor Martin Van Buren
Successor John Tyler
Former U.S. Senator from Ohio
From: March 4, 1825 – May 20, 1828
Predecessor Ethan Allen Brown
Successor Jacob Burnet
Former U.S. Representative from Ohio's 1st Congressional District
From: October 8, 1816 – March 3, 1819
Predecessor John McLean
Successor Thomas R. Ross
Party Whig
Spouse(s) Anna Symmes Harrison
Religion Episcopalian
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Service Years 1791–1798, 1811, 1812–1814
Rank Major General

William Henry Harrison was the 9th President of the United States of America. Elected by the Whig party, he served as the president for one month in 1841 before dying of pneumonia. At 68, he was the oldest person elected president before Ronald Reagan in 1980, and he also served the shortest term of any president. Harrison was the first president to die in office.

Early life

Harrison was born February 9, 1773 in Charles City, Virginia. His father served on the First Continental Congress in addition to signing the Declaration of Independence.


William Henry Harrison attended Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Pennsylvania. After his father died, he had no money to pay for schooling, and was compelled to join the army. Harrison became the governor of the Northwest Territory and his land purchases from Native Americans were instrumental in opening the West, especially the Ohio country to American settlers.

Northwest Territory

For his bravery in the Northwest Territory, he became secretary and at times surrogate governor of the Northwest Territory. An important figure in the Northwest Territory, Harrison purchased great plots of land from the natives and considerably expanded the territory of the United States. Along with Thomas Jefferson, he is known as one of the early American expansionists.


Harrison served as an aide-de campe during the North-West Indian War, and participated in the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794. Later, Harrison would defeat the nascent Indian confederacy, led by Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskatwata (also known as the Shawnee Prophet), at Prophetstown, near the Tippecanoe River When Harrison ran for President in 1840, Whig party publications referred to him as " Old Tippecanoe."

Presidential Campaigns

Harrison's first campaign was against Martin Van Buren in the 1836 Presidential election. Unfortunately, Harrison was one of four Whig candidates, which diluted the vote. Harrison won easily in 1840. Some credited his military victories, but the primary reason seems to have been the unpopularity of Martin Van Buren, who many blamed for the Panic of 1837. Harrison's campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" is one of the most famous in American political history. Harrison was also the first Whig to be elected President.

1840 Whig campaign almanac


Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address in U.S. history (over two hours) on a cold rainy day. During the election, the Democrats attempted to make an issue of Harrison's age (68), and in an attempt to show his fitness, he did not wear a coat, which may have contributed to his contracting pneumonia. Harrison died one month later of complications from pneumonia.

Presidency Itself

Harrison's only notable act during his presidency was to attend a special meeting of Congress because Henry Clay said not to. The session was to discuss finance of the country. Because of his short presidency, he was unable to pass many bills and tariffs supported by the Whigs.

Further reading

  • Freeman Cleaves. Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time (1990)
  • Owens, Robert M. Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy (2007) 342pp online review
  • Peterson, Norma Lois. The Presidencies of William Henry Harrison and John Tyler. (1989). 329 pp.

See also


External links