|William Henry Harrison - The Man
1773 - 1841 Years
(31 day Presidency)
A good part taken from True Stories of our Presidents by Charles Morris @ 1903.
Benjamin Harrison was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. He was the friend of George Washington, a fellow Virginian, and a good friend of John Hancock. Benjamin also served in the Continental Congress through the Revolution, and then became Governor of Virginia. He was also one of the 55 delegates who made the Constitution of the U.S. To him was born William Henry Harrison on February 9, 1773. As Benjamin Harrison was well-to-do he sent William to college. During his college years his father died, so he went to Philadelphia to study medicine.
George Washington was President and there were problems with the Indians in the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois). William left his study of medicine and joined the army. He was slender and frail in health, and his friends tried to get him to continue his study of medicine. He began as an ensign or corporal, then graduated to lieutenant. He next fought with Mad Anthony Wayne who said “Wherever duty called he hastened, regardless of danger, and by his efforts and example contributed as much to securing the fortunes of the day as any other officer subordinate to the commander-in-chief.” This won him the rank of Captain, and he was put in command of one of the large forts.
With the Indian problem settled, the territory needed to be governed and Harrison, only 24, gave up his position in the army to accept the office of Secretary. Three years later the territory was divided in two and he was made governor of the Indiana Territory. He served in this position for 12 years.
There were two great Indian Chiefs in the Indiana Territory that would give him problems, Tecumseh (The Crouching Panther) and Olliwacheca (The Prophet). In 1812 the British came down from Canada furnishing the Indians with guns. A group of Indians collected on the Wabash River, at a place called Tippecanoe. Harrison approached with a small army. He found there were several thousand Indians there. That night he had the soldiers sleep with their guns by their sides and with the camp-fires put out. In the middle of the night the Indians crept in, but the ready soldiers won the battle. This victory and fame earned Harrison the title of “Old Tippecanoe”.
At the end of the War of 1812, he resigned his commission in the army, and was elected a Representative to Congress by the new Territory of Ohio. Congress recognized his services by passing a resolution of thanks and giving him a gold medal.
After a time in Congress, he served as Minister to Colombia, South America. He then retired to his home near North Bend, on the Ohio River to become a farmer. Always a temperance man (not believing in drinking alcohol), after he had retired to his farm, a relative in his will left a whiskey distillery to him. His principles would not allow him to own such a place, so at a great loss of money he gave up the business.
While Harrison was born in Virginia, and his family owned slaves, he never thought it was right for one man to own another. At the age of 18 he became a member of an Abolition Society in Richmond, Virginia. While in Congress, he was the first to introduce a law that slaves should not be kept in States made out of new territory.
Harrison had run against Van Buren in 1836 for the Presidency, but made a poor showing. Now four years later after the distasteful depression and the too elegant habits of Van Buren, the stage was set for a change. For his running mate, John Tyler of Virginia was chosen, and the Whigs had no platform and avoided all issues. “Keep the ball rolling” is an American expression that had its origin in the 1840 election when a group of Harrison supporters rolled a large paper ball from Kentucky to Baltimore where the National Convention of Whig Young Men was held. “Keep the ball rolling on to Washington,” was the cry. (Transparency)
Harrison was honest, happily married to a woman who bore him ten children, the most progeny of any president up to that time, and the oldest president to be elected before Reagan. Daniel Webster, his Secretary of State, wrote Harrison’s inaugural address. There was a raw wind blowing and the speech was very long. He wore no hat or overcoat. After the speech Harrison fell ill with pneumonia and died on April 4, one month to a day after taking the oath of office. His wife got the news just as she was about to leave from their home in North Bend to come to Washington. Harrison was the last president born a British subject.
Benjamin Harrison - Signer of the Declaration of Independence.
Benjamin Harrison’s son – William Henry Harrison - 9th President of the U.S.
William Henry Harrison’s grandson - Benjamin Harrison - 23rd President of the U.S.