William Henry Harrison
March 4 - April 4, 1841
William Henry Harrison was born in Berkeley, Virginia on February 9, 1775. Berkeley was a plantation. When he ran for president, his supporters said he was born in a log cabin.
He was the seventh child in his family of three boys and four girls.
William was educated at home until he was fourteen.
His father was one of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence. His father was also member of the Continental Congress.
His father Benjamin served as Governor of Virginia in two separate occasions.
William was the first and only President who studied to become a doctor. However, he dropped out of medical school. He had attended the Pennsylvania Medical School.
William Henry was appointed to the army by George Washington a good friend of his father.
Harrision served at Fort Washington which was close to modern day Cincinnati. It was a small fort with thiry-five houses in the area. He later served under General Anthony Wayne. Wayne's nickname was "Mad Anthony."
He fought along side of "Mad Anthony" at the Battle of the Fallen Timbers. (So called because a tornado had knocked down and broken many of the trees.
William Henry Harrison served in the Indian wars in the NW territory, War of 1812. The Battle of Thames and Tippeconoe made him famous.
He married Anna Symmes in 1795.
Harrison was outsmarted by Tecumseh, an Indian leader. Harrison said if he was a prophet he should make the sun stand still. Tecumseh knew there was going to be a solar eclipse. (Harrison didn't know that.) Tecumseh took his followers out side and ordered the sun do go dark and it did.
On November 7, 1811, Harrison lead the troupes on the Battle of Tippecanoe. Even though he made some mistakes and didn't think the Indians would attack they did two hours before dawn. They were winning the battle until the sun came up and then Harrison's troops were able to see their attackers and their guns won the battle. Harrison's forces lost 188 men. That was more than the Indians lost.
One year later the Ware of 1812 took place with the British. Harrison was given an army to command in that war. In 1813, at the Battle of Thames, Tecumseh was killed by Harrison's army. They mutilated the body so bad that Harrison wouldn't allow his British captives identify the body.
William Henry Harrison served as secretary of the Northwest Territories. An area that covered Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.
In 1799, He was elected as a U.S. House Representative. His greatest achievement in that position was the passage of the Harrison Land Act which allow settlers to buy as little as 320 acres at a time from the U.S. Government. They could buy it on credit for $2.00 and acre.
President Adams then appointed him Governor of the Northwest Territories.
Governor Harrison built an elaborate house called Grouseland in the Indiana Territory. He had glass windows brought from Europe. Sold lad to buy brick. Built a circular stairway. The house had 13 spacious rooms, four large chimney and hand-carved woodwork. People of that area had never seen a house like that. It became a "tourist" attraction.
One of Harrison's jobs as governor was to gain land through treaties with the American Indians. He acquired about 50 million acres at a cost of $2.00 per acre.
William Henry Harrison had mixed reactions to slavery. He owned some slaves. Some of which he made indenture servants who would gain their freedom after a set period of work. However, even though the US Government banned slavery in the territory, Harrison interpreted that to mean if they already owned slaves they could bring them in to the area.
He was the Ambassador to Colombia until Andrew Jackson had him replaced.
Harrison served as a Senator from Ohio.
William Henry Harrision ran for president in 1836 and lost. He was nominated again in 1840.
When he campaigned for president he used a song with the words, "Van is a used up man." Referring to Van Buren.
William Henry Harrision was the first president to campaign for the office of president. Before this time it was considered improper for the candidate to campaign for office.
The Whigs portrayed Harrison as being born in a log cabin. They had log cabin songs, signs, poster and much more. They wanted to show Harrison as a common man compared to Van Buren. However, William Harrison was born on a plantation to a wealthy family.
This was the first time that women were involved in a presidential campaign. Lucy Kennedy became one of the first American woman to write a political pamphlet. Other women had meetings and made speeches. Some Americans thought having women campaign was "shocking."
"Tyler was finally taken (as vice president) because we could get nobody else to accept." Thurlow Weed leader within the Whig Party.
The election started on October 30, 1940 and ended on November 18th of that year. It took that for all 26 states to work their way through the elections. Each had it's own process of selecting a president.
In the 26 states most had opened the voting to all white men. (Women, African Americans, Native Americas etc. could not vote. Six states required that you had to pay taxes to vote. 0In four states you had to own property if you wanted to vote.
He is one of seven Presidents from Virginia.
William Harrison belonged to the Whig Political Party. He was the first president elected from that party.
Harrison was the father of ten children and his Vice President, Tyler, had fifteen children.
Harrison would take a walk every morning. While he was out he did the grocery shopping. He would often meet a friend and invite them to breakfast. He did this so often that the servants would always set and extra plate at the table.
President William Harrison and Vice President Tyler were from the same county. A First!
William Harrison was the first presidential candidate to personally campaign for the job of president. The slogan for the campaign was Tippecanoe and Tyler too. (Even though Harrison had lost the Battle of Tippecanoe.
Description: William Henry Harrison
Library of Congress
Harrison's inaugural address was the longest of any president. (one hour and 40 minutes in the cold, he caught a cold that led to his death.) (some sources say his speech was 105 minutes.)
He couldn't shake hands at his inauguration because they were so sore from handshaking on the campaign trail.
On inauguration day, March 4, 1841, Harrison rode his favorite horse, Whitety, in the parade. He was followed by old soldiers, young supporters and an long trial of log cabins.
It was the most people to come out for an inauguration since President Washington. There were over 50,000 people at is inauguration.
Even though it was cold Harrison did not wear an over coat.
On a "raw and rainy" day he spoke for nearly two hours.
President Harrison had a billy goat at the White House during the short period he was there.
William Harrison had a dog named Dask.
Three men served as President in 1841. Van Buren completed his term. Harrison served one month and his Vice President, John Tyler became President. This only happened during one other year.
William Harrison had the shortest term as President. He served 1 month (31 days). He was the first president to die in office.
William Henry Harrison's term was so short that his wife who was ill at the time of the inauguration never moved to Washington D.C. His niece, Jane Findley, and his son's widow, Mrs. William Harrison went with him to Washington to be the hostess.
Harrison was 68 when he was elected. He was the oldest man before Ronald Reagan to be inaugurated president.
After Harrison was elected, President Van Buran invited him to the White House for dinner. Van Buren said of Harrison. "He is as tickled with the Presidency as is a young woman with a new bonnet."
President Harrison was the only president who had a grandson become president, William Henry Harrison.
On March 26, a physician found him to be slightly ill. He was given the best medical care available. He was bleed, cupped. Cupping was placing a very hot cup against the skin to cause a blister. It was thought that the illness would be moved to the blister. The doctors said he had "Bilious pleurisy."
He was also given laudanum, opium, caster oil, camphor, wine and brandy. The "cure" may have killed him.
William Harrison died in Washington D.C. on April 4, 1841. His term of office from March 4, to April 4, was the shortest term served by any president. He was 68 years and 54 days old. William was the first President to lie in state in the White House. He is buried in the William Henry Harrison Memorial State Park, North Bend, Ohio.
He was the first president to die in office. Since he was the first to die, there were no precedents of what should be done. These are some of the things that happened.
- After the White House his body was moved to Capitol Building
- The procession had 14 military companies
- Williams horse Whitey lead the procession
- Hid horse held his army saddle with his boots in the saddle pointing backward.
His funeral cost the United States $3,088.09, of which $20 was paid for shaving and dressing the deceased.
His body lay in state in the White House. His coffin had a glass lid that allowed them to see the face of the president.
Quotes from Benjamin Harrison:
"We Americans have no commission from God to police the world." (1888)
"I'd rather have a bullet inside of me than to be living in constant dread of one."
1889, As I Knew Them, p. 149
Speaking about himself, Harrison stated: "Some folks are silly enough to have formed a plan to make a President of the United States out of this clerk and clodhopper."
Harrison's last words were "Sir, I wish you to understand the principles of Government, I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."
For this section of this web site I also used: William Henry Harrison, by Gail Collins.