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William Henry Harrison: 9th President

Updated on January 2, 2018
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past. Without it, we are destined to repeat the past.

Portrait of President Harrison


Military Career of William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison was the youngest of a prominent family of seven. He was born in Berkeley, Virginia on February 9, 1773. His father Benjamin Harrison was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a governor of Virginia.

Wiliam Henry, at the age of 14, went to Hamden-Sydney College, then studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. When his father died, he was unable to continue to pay for his education; therefore, he dropped out and joined the First Infantry of the Regular Army.

He became well-known as an Indian fighter during this time, and even served as aide-de-camp to General "Mad Anthony" Wayne, when he fought at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. This fight was successful in 1795 and led to the Treaty of Greenville, which secured peace between the Native and American people. Due to the peace that resulted, Ohio was able to be settled by Americans. Harrison's success was noted and he was swiftly promoted to captain. He then became the commander of Ohio's Fort Washington. It is located near where Cincinnati is today.

His military career almost stunted his marriage prospects, when he met Anna Tuthill Symmes, daughter of a judge. Judge Symmes felt that being a military man was not conducive to a healthy marriage. In 1795, they went against her father's wishes and eloped. Although they had ten children, six died young. One of their sons, John Scott Harrison would eventually become an Ohio congressman, and also the father of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison.

In 1798, he resigned from the Army and became Secretary of the Northwest Territory, where he was the first delegate to Congress for this area. He fought for legislation that would divide it into Indian Territories and the Northwest Territory.

Battle of Tippecanoe and the death of Tecumseh

In 1801, he became governor for 12 years for the Indiana Territory, which we now know as Indiana and Illinois. His primary duties were to defend against Indian raids, and to obtain title of the Indian lands so the United States could gain territory westward into the wilderness.

One man who made this very difficult was the chieftain Tecumseh. He was a strong, charismatic leader of the Indian people. Tecumseh joined forces with his brother the Prophet to help prevent further encroachment. Millions of acres were being taken from them,which they had previously used for hunting ground. The Indians became strong and formed a very strong confederation.

By 1811, Harrison received permission to attack their confederation and was given 800 volunteers to join his team. They attacked a camp at Tippecanoe Creek. Although they were successful in their battle, there were 190 men that died or became wounded. Due to the success, he became nicknamed, "Old Tippecanoe."

The raids were only temporarily thwarted, by 1812, the Indian raids came back full force, and the War of 1812 began. Harrison became brigadier general of the Army in the Northwest and fought in the Battle of the Thames, north of Lake Erie. On October 5, 1813, he killed Tecumseh and defeated the British and Indian forces. It was not until the death of Tecumseh that stopped the Indian attacks.

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump

The Shortest Presidency

Due to his success in military, those in the political arena felt highly of him. In 1814, he resigned from the Army and moved his family to a farm in North Bend, Ohio. By 1816, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1819, he became a senator for Ohio. Then in 1825, he became a U.S. senator, but retired three years later to become a U.S. minister to Colombia. He held this office for a year.

The Whig party took notice of him for his great success in both political and military platforms. They then decided to nominate him as President. his first run in 1836, he lost to Martin Van Buren, but the Whig party backed him once again, this time along with John Tyler as Vice-President. Their campaign slogan was, "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." They won by a landslide in electoral college, 234 to 60, but only won the majority by less than 150,000 votes. Many of those against Harrison for president, felt he was too old. He was the oldest president until Ronald Reagan was elected.

William Henry Harrison arrived in Washington on horseback to give his inauguration at the age of 68. Unfortunately he caught a cold that soon developed into pneumonia. On April 4, 1841, only 32 days after coming into office, he became the first President to die while serving as president, leaving John Tyler to be the first Vice-President to become president due to the death of his predecessor. When Harrison died, the Whig Party did too.

He left behind his wife Anna Harrison, who was the first presidential widow to receive a pension from Congress. They paid her a one-time, one year salary of the president, which equaled $25,000. She was also given free postage for her mail. She lived for two more decades before passing away herself.

Statue of the 9th President

On the opposite side, the inscription reads, first Ohio President.
On the opposite side, the inscription reads, first Ohio President. | Source

Fun Facts about President Harrison

  • Died on his 32nd day of becoming President, serving the shortest term of any U.S. President in history.
  • At the time of his election, he was the oldest Chief Executive ever to be elected.
  • 1st president to die while in office.
  • Last to be elected from the Whig party.
  • Only president to study to be a medical doctor.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts about President WIlliam Harrison

February 9, 1773 - Virginia Colony
President Number
Military Service
United States Army
Wars Served
Northwest Indian War Siege of Fort Recovery Battle of Fallen Timbers Tecumseh's War Battle of Tippecanoe War of 1812 Siege of Fort Wayne Battle of the Thames
Age at Beginning of Presidency
68 years
Term of Office
March 4, 1841 - April 4, 1841
How Long Served as President
32 days
John Tyler
Age and Year of Death
April 4, 1841 (aged 68)
Cause of Death
at time of death believed to have died of pneumonia, but a 2014 medical analysis changed his cause of death to enteric fever

Tomb of President William Henry Harrison

Stairs that lead to the monument and tomb.
Stairs that lead to the monument and tomb. | Source


  • Battle of Fallen Timbers. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2016, from
  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). William Henry Harrison. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from
  • Staff. (2009). William Henry Harrison. Retrieved May 09, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.
  • U.S. Presidential Fun Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 22, 2016, from

© 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz


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