William Henry Harrison



Number President 9th President
Terms Served 1 Term Served (Died in Office)
Dates Served 1841
Party Whig
State Represented Ohio
Married to / First Lady Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison
Born February 9, 1773 in Charles City County, Virginia
Died April 4, 1841. He died in Washington D.C. of pneumonia a month after taking office. He was the first president to die in office.
Age William Henry Harrison would be 235 years old this year


A Democratic newspaper gibed, “Give him a barrel of hard cider and settle a pension of two thousand a year on him, and my word for it, he will sit ... by the side of a 'sea coal' fire, and study moral philosophy.” This comment was the reason President William Henry Harrison was put as an electoral candidate.  He was a simple Indian Fighter, lived in a log cabin, drank cider and was very different from the champagne sipping, aristocratic, Van Buren.

Harrison was the youngest of the seven children of Elizabeth Bassett and Harrison V. His family was prominent at the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County Virginia and also politically active. His father, a Virginia planted served as a member to the Continental Congress and one of the people to sign the declaration of Independence in 1776.
Harrison studied history and classics at the Hampden-Sydney College and medicine in Richmond. In the year 1791, he switched interests and obtained a commission as a member of the First Infantry in the Regular Army and went to Northwest where most of his days were spent.

Harrison served to the General “Mad Anthony” in the campaign against the Indians in the battle of Fallen Timbers. This battle was the gateway to most of the areas in Ohio for settlement. He resigned from the army in 1798 and became the Secretary of Northwest Territory. He was the first delegate to Congress from the area and obtained the legislation which divided the Territory into the Indiana and the Northwest territories. He became the Governor of Indiana Territory in 1801 and served there for 12 years.

Harrison became the candidate from the Northern Whig party in the elections of 1836, but lost to Martin Van Buren who had the support of Andrew Jackson. In 1840, he faced Van Buren again and the panic of 1837 helped him win the elections and become the President.

Harrison was ridiculed in the Democrat’s election campaign as was cast as a out-of-touch old man who would not be interested in the country’s administration and rather sit in the log cabin, drinking hard cider. The strategy backfired and the Harrison campaign was filled with posters of Hard Cider bottles and log cabins.
The election results were heavily in favor of Harrison as they call it, it was a landslide victory against Martin Van Buren. When Harrison came to Washington, he was focused on projecting himself as the hero of Tippecanoe. His oath was on an extremely wet and cold day and the speech the longest inaugural address comprising of 8,444 words and taking nearly 2 hours.

He then rode on the streets for the inaugural parade and the carelessness lead to development of Pneumonia and Pleurisy. He wanted to rest in the White House, but never found a quiet room as he was always approached for one favor or another.

Harrison’s only official act was calling Congress for a special session on May 31, 1841. The stress and volume of people and interviews further weakened the situation of the already sick Harrison.
The doctors tried everything that was possible at that time, but the condition just worsened and Harrison died a month later on April 4, 1841 in his office. His Presidency term the shortest in American Politics – only thirty days, twelve hours and thirty minutes.



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