William Henry Harrison: The Ninth President (1841)

William Henry Harrison was chosen to run for president by the new Whig political party in 1840. His was the shortest term ever served by a president. Harrison died just thirty-two days after he was inaugurated.

Harrison had built a reputation as a frontier Indian fighter and as a politician in the Great Lakes region. Harrison won a great victory over several allied Native American tribes at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Harrison's 1840 campaign slogan played on that victory and associated his vice president's name with it as well: “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!”

ALL ABOUT HARRISON

NICKNAME: Ol' Tippecanoe

BIRTH: February 9, 1773; Charles City County, VA

DEATH: April 4, 1841; Washington, D.C.

YEARS AS PRESIDENT: 1841

SPOUSE: Anna Tuthill Symmes (1775–1864)

VICE PRESIDENT: John Tyler of Virginia (1841)

Early Days

Harrison was born in a log cabin on his father's estate in Virginia in 1773. His father, Benjamin Harrison, went on to sign the Declaration of Independence three years later.

Professional Career Before Becoming President

Harrison joined the army when he turned eighteen and spent years working his way up the chain of command along the Ohio frontier. In 1798 he was appointed secretary of the Northwest Territory (present-day Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota), and two years later he became governor. Harrison held that post for twelve years.

While he was governor, Harrison became famous as a result of a military victory his soldiers achieved over the Shawnees and other members of their Native American confederation at the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek in 1811. Harrison came to be known as “Tippecanoe” in honor of that victory. During the War of 1812, Harrison commanded American troops fighting in Canada, and won the important Battle of the Thames, where the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed.

Harrison later served as a U.S. congressman (1816–1819) from Ohio and as a U.S. senator from Ohio (1825–1828). In 1836 he ran for the presidency as a member of the Whig Party.

Harrison's Presidency

The day that Harrison was inaugurated, or officially put in place as president, was cold and rainy. He made one of the longest inaugural speeches ever (it was over three hours long), and delivered it without a hat or a winter coat. Harrison caught a chill that day. The resulting cold quickly became pneumonia, and he died thirty-two days later without having really done anything. He was the first president to die in office.

FUN FACTS

BORN IN A LOG CABIN

Over the years, many presidential candidates have done their best to show voters that they are just ordinary folks, and none was more successful at doing this than William Henry Harrison. Harrison ran for president by emphasizing his humble origins on the frontier. While it's true that he was born in a log cabin, the whole truth is that the log cabin was a temporary home around which his father's mansion was being built! His family was actually wealthy.

Retirement and Death

Since he died in office, Harrison never retired. He died of pneumonia on April 4, 1841.

WORDS TO KNOW

Whig

In British history, the Whigs were a political party that opposed the harsh and oppressive rule of a king. Because in their eyes President Andrew Jackson seemed to be trying to rule the same way, his political opponents joined together and used the same name: Whig.

Still Around

William Henry Harrison died in 1841, after being president for just one month. 48 years later, he still had an effect in the Oval Office! How could this be? The answer to this presidential puzzle has been put into a grid and cut into pieces. See if you can match the patterns, then write the letters from each piece into the correct squares of the empty grid.

  1. Home
  2. Kids' Presidents
  3. War With Mexico (1841-1850)
  4. William Henry Harrison: The Ninth President (1841)
Visit other About.com sites: