William H. Harrison's inauguration

March 4, 1841

Ohio History Connection

Ohio History Connection
Columbus, United States

Street scene of William Harrison's Inauguration. William Henry Harrison was an American political and military leader and the ninth President of the United States. He was born in Charles County, Virginia, on February 9, 1773. He attended and graduated from Hampden-Sydney College and, at his father's insistence, studied medicine from 1790 to 1791 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Upon his father's death in 1791, Harrison immediately joined the United States Army. Harrison continued to serve in the military until 1798, when he resigned and accepted a new position as the Secretary of the Northwest Territory. He held this position until 1799. Because of Harrison's excellent political skills, President John Adams selected him to be the governor of the Indiana Territory on May 12, 1800. The Indiana Territory included modern-day Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. He held this office until 1813.In 1812, the War of 1812 began between the United States and Great Britain. President James Madison promoted Harrison to the rank of brigadier-general and put him in command of the Army of the Northwest. In October 1813, Harrison led the Army of the Northwest against a combined British and Native American force led by General Henry Proctor and Tecumseh. Known as the Battle of the Thames, the United States emerged victorious. The British ran from the battlefield, leaving the Native Americans to fight on alone. The Americans defeated the Native Americans, killing Tecumseh.Following the War of 1812, Harrison returned to politics. He made his home at North Bend just west of Cincinnati, Ohio. He represented Ohio in the United States Congress for two terms. He also served as the United States ambassador to Colombia in 1828 and 1829.In 1836, he ran as a member of the Whig Party against Democrat Martin Van Buren for the Presidency of the United States. Van Buren, Vice President under Andrew Jackson, won the election. In 1840, Harrison ran against the incumbent. He emphasized his military record against Tecumseh and the British in the War of 1812 with John Tyler of Virginia as his running mate. His campaign slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too." The sixty-eight-year-old Harrison was inaugurated into office on March 4, 1841, on a cold, overcast day. His speech was one of the longest inauguration speeches in presidential history at 8,445 words. He served the shortest time in office of any man elected to the presidency. He died from pneumonia on April 4, 1841, one month after taking office. John Tyler was his Vice president and successor.


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