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 William Henry Harrison

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William Henry Harrison

  • Birth 9 Feb 1773 Charles City, Charles City County, Virginia, USA
  • Death 4 Apr 1841 Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Burial North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA
  • Memorial ID 452

9th United States President. A member of the Whig Party, he served as the 9th US President from March to April 1841 for at total of 32 days, the shortest tenure in US presidential history. He was the first US President to die in office and was also the oldest person to assume the presidency until Ronald Reagan in 1981. The youngest son of Benjamin Harrison V, a wealthy Virginia planter and delegate to the Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence and was a governor of Virginia, he entered the Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia in 1787 and three years later briefly attended a boys' academy in Southampton County, Virginia. Later in 1790 he entered the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to study medicine. When his father died the following year, he was left without any money and was persuaded to join the US Army by Virginia Governor Henry Lee, a family friend, and at the age of 18 was commissioned as an ensign with the 1st Infantry Regiment. His first assignment was to Cincinnati in the Northwest Territory, where the US Army was engaged in the ongoing Northwest Indian War. In 1792 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and the following year he became aide-de-camp to General Anthony "Mad Anthony" Wayne. In 1797 he resigned from the US Army and sought a political post in the Northwest Territorial government and was appointed Secretary of the Territory. In 1799 he was elected as the first delegate representing the Northwest Territory to the US Congress and successfully promoted passage of the Harrison Land Act, making it easier for poor settlers to buy land in the Northwest Territory. In May 1800 he was appointed governor of the newly created Indiana Territory and supervised the development of 13 treaties with the Native American leaders. He attempted on several occasions to secure approval of slavery in the Territory but was defeated by President Thomas Jefferson each time. In 1811, when Chief Tecumseh and his tribal followers started an uprising against the settlers, he led an army of 1,000 men to initially intimidate then into making peace, but on November 6, he defeated the tribal forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe near the confluence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers and he was proclaimed a hero. In 1812, after the outbreak of war between the US and England, he was appointed to the rank of major general became commander of the US Army of the Northwest, winning victories against the Shawnee and their British allies in Indiana and Ohio and recaptured Detroit, before invading Canada. In October 1813 he defeated the British at the Battle of the Thames near present-day Chatham, Ontario in which Tecumseh was killed. In the summer of 1814 he resigned from the US Army and was awarded a gold medal by the US Congress for his services. In 1819 he was elected to the US House of Representatives to finish the term of John McLean of Ohio, serving from October 1816 until to March 1819. In 1819 he was elected to the Ohio State Senate, serving until 1821, having lost the election for Ohio governor in 1820. In 1822 he ran for the US House again but lost to James W. Gazlay. In 1824 he was elected to the US Senate, where he served until May 1828 when he resigned after being appointed US Minister to Gran Columbia, serving until March 1829. He then returned to the US and settled on his farm in North Bend, Ohio. In 1836 he made an unsuccessful run for the US presidency as a Whig candidate against the Democratic candidate Martin Van Buren. Between 1836 and 1840 he served as Clerk of Courts for Hamilton County, Ohio. In 1840 he ran again against Van Buren as the Whig candidate for the US presidency and won the popular vote along with a landslide electoral college victory. He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day., wearing neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history, at two hours. is only official act of consequence was to call Congress into a special session, which did not occur until after his death. On March 26 he became ill with a cold, that worsened rapidly into pneumonia and pleurisy, and he died nine days later at the age of 68. He was the first sitting president to have his photograph taken, on Inauguration Day in 1841. Harrison's son, John Scott Harrison, served in the US House of Representatives from Ohio between 1853 and 1857. His grandson, Benjamin Harrison, would become the 23rd President of the US in 1889 and serve until 1893. A statue in his honor was erected on Monument Circle in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bio by: William Bjornstad





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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 452
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry Harrison (9 Feb 1773–4 Apr 1841), Find A Grave Memorial no. 452, citing William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial, North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .