President William Henry Harrison Biography
Step into the world of one of America’s most overlooked and underrated presidents, William Henry Harrison. Despite serving only 31 days in office before his untimely death, this fascinating figure has left a lasting legacy that is still felt to this day. From his humble beginnings as a soldier in the War of 1812 to his brief but impactful tenure as President, there’s no shortage of stories to tell about Harrison’s life and accomplishments.
William Henry Harrison was born on February 9, 1773, in Charles City County, Virginia. His father, Benjamin Harrison V, was a Virginia planter who served as a delegate to the Continental Congress and as governor of Virginia. His mother was Elizabeth Bassett Harrison. William had ten siblings, seven brothers and three sisters. His brother John Scott Harrison later served as a U.S. Representative from Ohio and his son Benjamin Harrison was elected as the 23rd president of the United States.
Harrison was educated at Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School before he joined the army in 1791 to fight in the Northwest Indian War. In 1797, he was appointed secretary of the Northwest Territory by President George Washington and settled in what is now Cincinnati, Ohio.
Harrison married Anna Tuthill Symmes in 1795 and they had nine children together. Anna died in 1858 and Harrison married Maria Dimmick in 1862.
Harrison began his political career when he was elected as a delegate to the territorial legislature in 1800. The following year he became the territory’s first congressional delegate when it gained status as an organized territory. He served in that role until 1812 when he resigned to join the military again during the War of 1812. He rose to the rank of major general and commanded troops at the Battles of Fort Meigs and the Thames River where he defeated Shawnee chief Tecumseh,
William Henry Harrison had a long and illustrious military career, serving in the Revolutionary War, the Northwest Indian War, and the War of 1812. He rose through the ranks quickly, becoming a colonel in 1791 and a general in 1798. He was instrumental in victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, which helped to secure American control of the Northwest Territory. In 1812, he was appointed as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and commanded troops during the Siege of Fort Meigs and the Battle of the Thames. He resigned from the Army in 1814, but rejoined in 1815 to fight in the Creek War. Afterward, he served as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northwest Territory and Governor of Indiana Territory before being elected as the ninth President of the United States in 1840.
William Henry Harrison’s political career began in 1791 when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He served in Congress for four years before resigning to take up the position of governor of the Indiana Territory. He held this post for twelve years, during which time he oversaw the territory’s transformation into a state.
After retiring from politics, Harrison returned to his farm in Ohio. However, he was drawn back into the political arena in 1841 when he was nominated by the Whig Party to run for president. He campaigned on a platform of westward expansion and Indian removal, and won the election.
Presidency, Death and Legacy
William Henry Harrison died on April 4, 1841, just one month after taking office as the ninth President of the United States. The cause of his death was pneumonia, which he contracted after giving a two-hour inaugural address in bad weather without a coat. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis over succession to the presidency.
Harrison was originally buried in a family plot at Grouseland, his home in Vincennes, Indiana. In 1858, his remains were moved to Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., at the request of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, who later became the 23rd President of the United States.
Although he served as President for such a short time, Harrison had a significant impact on American history. He was the first president to die in office and his death sparked a constitutional crisis over succession to the presidency. He also established the precedent of presidents giving inaugural addresses outdoors, which has been followed by nearly all subsequent presidents.
Time in Office (1841)
Born: February 9, 1773
Died: April 4, 1841
Wife: Anna Symmes
Vice President: John Tyler