Harrison, William Henry

Harrison, William Henry

biographical name


William Henry Harrison, detail of an oil painting by Abel Nichols; in the Peabody Essex Museum, …—Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

(born Feb. 9, 1773, Charles City county, Va.—died April 4, 1841, Washington, D.C., U.S.) Ninth president of the U.S. (1841). Born into a politically prominent family, he enlisted in the army at age 18 and served under Anthony Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. In 1798 he became secretary of the Northwest Territories and in 1800 governor of the new Indiana Territory. In response to pressure from white settlers, he negotiated treaties with the Indians that ceded millions of acres of additional land to the U.S. When Tecumseh organized an uprising in 1811, Harrison led a U.S. force to defeat the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe, a victory that largely established his reputation in the public mind. In the War of 1812 he was made a brigadier general and defeated the British and their Indian allies at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario. After the war he moved to Ohio, where he became prominent in the Whig Party. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1816–19) and Senate (1825–28). As the Whig candidate in the 1836 presidential election, he lost narrowly. In 1840 he and his running mate, John Tyler, won election with a slogan emphasizing Harrison's frontier triumph: “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.” The 68-year-old Harrison delivered his inaugural speech without a hat or overcoat in a cold drizzle, contracted pneumonia, and died one month later; he was the first U.S. president to die in office.

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