William Henry Harrison

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Personal

  • Born: February 9, 1773
  • Died: April 4, 1841
  • Wife: Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison
  • Children: ten
  • Level of Education: Attended Hampden-Sydney College
  • Religion: Episcopalian

Presidency

  • Dates of Office: March 4 - April 4, 1841
  • Number of Terms: one
  • Party: Whig
  • Vice President: John Tyler

Other Positions Held

  • Territorial Governor, Indiana Territory (1801-1813)
  • U.S. Representative, Ohio (1817-1819)
  • State Senator, Ohio (1819-1825)
  • U.S. Senator, Ohio (1825-1828)
  • Minister to Columbia (1828-1829)

Biography

William Henry Harrison was born in a brick mansion on his family's estate in Charles City County, Virginia on February 9, 1773. Joining the army in 1791, Harrison resigned his commission in 1798 to become Secretary of the Northwest Territory. As Governor of Indiana Territory, Harrison led an expedition that defeated the Shawnee Indians at the Battle of Tippicanoo on November 7, 1811.

In the War of 1812 Harrison was appointed supreme commander of the Army of the Northwest, and ordered to retake Detroit, which had fallen to the British on August 16, 1812. Following the naval battle at Put-in Bay in Lake Erie on September 10, 1813, the British evacuated Detroit, and Harrison advanced into Canada. Harrison captured 500 British troops at the Battle of the Thames on October 5.

Resigning from the army in 1814, Harrison eventually entered politics, serving two terms as Representative from Ohio, and half of a term as US Senator from Ohio. In 1836 several candidates, including Harrison, were run by various factions of the newly-formed Whig Party against President Andrew Jackson's hand-picked successor, Martin van Buren. Although van Buren won, Harrison was the most successful Whig candidate, picking up 73 electoral votes and 36.6% of the popular vote.

When the Whigs met at their first national convention in December 1839, they nominated Harrison as their presidential candidate, and chose John Tyler, an anti-Jackson Democrat, as his running mate. The Whigs were able to successfully duplicate Jackson's earlier populist campaigns, playing up Harrison's 1811 victory over the Shawnee with the slogan "Tippicanoo and Tyler Too", and touting Harrison as a man of the people associated with "log cabins and hard cider". Harrison was elected president in 1840, winning 234 out of 294 electoral votes and 53.1% of the popular vote.

Harrison was inaugurated on March 4, 1841. However, he caught a cold while delivering his inaugural address, and the cold developed into pneumonia. Harrison died on April 4, the first President of the United States to die in office.

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