William Henry Harrison
A daguerreotype of Harrison in 1841
|9th President of the United States|
March 4, 1841 – April 4, 1841
|Vice President||John Tyler|
|Preceded by||Martin Van Buren|
|Succeeded by||John Tyler|
|United States Minister to Gran Colombia|
May 24, 1828 – September 26, 1829
|Nominated by||John Quincy Adams|
|Preceded by||Beaufort Taylor Watts|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Patrick Moore|
|United States Senator|
March 4, 1825 – May 20, 1828
|Preceded by||Ethan Allen Brown|
|Succeeded by||Jacob Burnet|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Ohio's 1st district
October 8, 1816 – March 3, 1819
|Preceded by||John McLean|
|Succeeded by||Thomas R. Ross|
|Governor of the Indiana Territory|
January 10, 1801 – December 28, 1812
|Appointed by||John Adams|
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Succeeded by||Thomas Posey|
|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives from
the Northwest Territory
March 4, 1799 – May 14, 1800
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||William McMillan|
|Secretary of the Northwest Territory|
June 28, 1798 – October 1, 1799
|Governor||Arthur St. Clair|
|Preceded by||Winthrop Sargent|
|Succeeded by||Charles Willing Byrd|
|Born||February 9, 1773|
Charles City County, Virginia, British America
|Died||April 4, 1841 (aged 68)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Resting place||Harrison Tomb State Memorial|
North Bend, Ohio
|Political party||Democratic-Republican (1799–1828)|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Symmes (m. 1795)|
|Children||10, including John Scott Harrison and Carter Bassett Harrison|
|Years of service||1791–1798, 1811, 1812–1814|
|Unit||Legion of the United States|
|Commands||Army of the Northwest|
William Henry Harrison Sr. (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninth President of the United States (1841), an American military officer, and the last president born as a British subject. He was 68 years, 23 days old at the time of his inauguration. He died of complications from pneumonia 31 days into his term, serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. He was the first president to die in office, and his death sparked a brief constitutional crisis. Its resolution left many unsettled questions following the presidential line of succession in regard to the Constitution until the passage of the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1967. He was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who served as the 23rd United States President from 1889 to 1893.
Before election as president, Harrison served as the first congressional delegate from the Northwest Territory and the first Governor of Indiana Territory. He gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against Native Americans at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, where he earned the nickname"Tippecanoe" (or "Old Tippecanoe"). As a general officer in the subsequent War of 1812, his most notable action was in the Battle of the Thames in 1813. This battle resulted in the death of Tecumseh and the dissolution of the Indian coalition which Tecumseh had led.
After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1824, the state legislature elected him to the United States Senate. He served a truncated term after being appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia in May 1828. In Santa Fe de Bogotá, he spoke with president Simón Bolívar, urging Bolívar to guide his nation toward American-style democracy.
Returning to his farm in Ohio, Harrison lived in relative retirement until he was nominated for the presidency as one of several Whig Party candidates in the election of 1836. He received more votes than any other Whig, but was defeated by Democrat Martin Van Buren. He retired again to his farm.
Van Buren soon became a major target of criticism from the Whigs surrounding economic difficulties following the Panic of 1837. Seeking to run a non-controversial and less ideological war hero who could defeat Van Buren based on popularity, a unified Whig Party nominated Harrison over party founder Henry Clay and fellow general Winfield Scott. John Tyler of Virginia was selected as his running mate. Harrison and Tyler defeated Van Buren in the 1840 election. However, Harrison died of pneumonia in April 1841, a month after taking office. Tyler then assumed all of the powers and duties of the president, setting a major precedent.
William Henry Harrison, the youngest of Benjamin Harrison V and Elizabeth Bassett Harrison's seven children, was born on February 9, 1773, at Berkeley Plantation, the Harrison family home in Charles City County, Virginia. Harrison was a member of a prominent political family of entirely English descent, whose ancestors had all been in Virginia since the 1630s. Harrison was also the last U.S. president born as a British subject before American Revolution. Benjamin Harrison V, William's father, was a Virginia planter who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress (1774–1777) and who signed the Declaration of Independence. The senior Harrison also served in the Virginia legislature as the fifth governor of Virginia(1781–84) in the years during and after the American Revolutionary War. William's older brother, Carter Bassett Harrison, represented Virginia in the U.S. House (1793–99).
Harrison was tutored at home before he entered Hampden–Sydney College, the Presbyterian school in Virginia in 1787 at age 14. He remained at the school until 1790, receiving a classical education that included Latin, Greek, French, logic, and debate. Harrison's Episcopalian father removed him from the college, possibly because of a religious revival that was occurring at the school. Harrison briefly attended a boys' academy in Southampton County, before his father had him transfer to Philadelphia for medical training in 1790. Harrison boarded with Robert Morris and entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied medicine under Doctor Benjamin Rush. Harrison later told his biographer that he did not enjoy the subject. In the spring of 1791, shortly after he began his medical studies, Harrison's father died. When the eighteen-year-old Harrison, who was left in the guardianship of Morris, discovered that his family's financial situation left him without funds for further schooling, he abandoned medical school in favor of a military career.
Governor Henry Lee III of Virginia, a friend of Harrison's father, learned of William's situation and persuaded him to join the military. Within twenty-four hours of meeting Lee, eighteen-year-old Harrison was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Army, 1st Infantry Regiment. He was initially assigned to Fort Washington, the present-day site of Cincinnati, in the Northwest Territory, where the army was engaged in the ongoing Northwest Indian War.
Harrison was promoted to lieutenant after Major General "Mad Anthony" Wayne took command of the western army in 1792 following a disastrous defeat under Arthur St. Clair, its previous commander. In 1793 Harrison became Wayne's aide-de-camp. Harrison learned how to successfully command an army on the American frontier and participated in Wayne's decisive victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers on August 20, 1794, which brought the Northwest Indian War to a successful close for the United States.