William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison, born in Charles County, Virginia, was an American political and military leader and the ninth President of the United States. Harrison served in the army, as governor of the Indiana Territory, in the Ohio congress, and as ambassador to Columbia. He died of pneumonia shortly after becoming President in 1841. 

William Henry Harrison portrait (ca. 1830-1839)Ohio History Connection

Harrison in the Military

When his father, Benjamin Harrison V, passed away in 1791, Harrison immediately joined the United States Army. Over the next seven years, his early military actions in the Northwest Territory formed the foundation of his political career that followed.

General Harrison portrait (ca. 1841)Ohio History Connection

Engraved portrait of William Henry Harrison with the Arms of the United States. Harrison served in the Indian Wars under General “Mad” Anthony Wayne where Harrison was promoted to lieutenant and learned much about frontier warfare from Wayne. Harrison also served in the
War of 1812.

William Henry Harrison Northwest Indian War provision (August 1794) by Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841;Ohio History Connection

This fragment is a signed provision from William Henry Harrison shortly after the victorious Battle of Fallen Timbers (near what today is Toledo, Ohio) during the Northwest Indian War, August 20, 1794. The reverse of the letter mentions “Indian Prisoner.” While it is unclear which individual this refers to, he was probably captured at or shortly after Fallen Timbers.

William Henry Harrison Note Regarding Supplies for the Shawnee Indians (July 22, 1795) by Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841.Ohio History Connection

This paper fragment was signed by William Henry Harrison from Head Quarters in Greenville, authorizing 15 pounds of mutton to be issued to Blue Jacket and the Shawnees. Representatives from twelve tribes met at Greenville, in present-day Darke County, to negotiate the Treaty of Greenville with General Anthony Wayne, which established the Greenville Treaty Line and relegated the tribes to lands in the northwest part of the state.

William Henry Harrison portrait (ca. 1830-1839)Ohio History Connection

This is a photographic reproduction of an engraved portrait of William Henry Harrison. Harrison served as a general in the War of 1812 against the British. The United States was angered by British attempts to impress American sailors into the British Navy and declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

William Henry Harrison Letter to Return Jonathan Meigs Regarding Troop Movements (November 06, 1812) by Harrison, William Henry, 1773-1841Ohio History Connection

This autograph letter was signed by William Henry Harrison and sent to Ohio Governor Return J. Meigs, during the War of 1812, informing the governor of troop movements. This war resulted in the destruction of American Indian military power and confined them to reservations.

'Hear General Harrison!' broadside (1840)Ohio History Connection

Harrison in Politics

Harrison represented the Northwest Territory at the turn of the 18th century in the newly-formed United States Congress. His political skills led President John Adams to name him governor of the Indiana Territory on May 12, 1800, which included modern-day Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan. He held this office until 1813 and also served as commander of the Army of the Northwest during the War of 1812 - an experience he would leverage heavily in his 1840 presidential campaign.

William Henry Harrison (1840)Ohio History Connection

This is a portrait of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States, and first Whig to serve as President. Harrison was also selected by President John Adams to be the governor of the Indiana Territory, an office he held from 1800 until 1813.

General Harrison portrait (ca. 1840) by J.T. Bown (Lithographer)Ohio History Connection

This print depicts William Henry Harrison standing before a log cabin with the caption "General Harrison, the true friend of the people." Harrison was the Whig candidate for President in 1840 with his running mate John Tyler. Their campaign slogan "Old Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too" referred to Harrison's victory over Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, at Tippecanoe Creek in 1811.

Old Tippecanoe has Come Out in the West (1840)Ohio History Connection

Colored print titled "Old Tippecanoe has come out in the West, In all the wide borders his steed is the best!" It is meant to depict William Henry Harrison's log cabin, which became the campaign's iconic symbol.. A barrel of hard cider is by the cabin, a flag reading "Harrison & Tyler" is flying above, and Harrison is in front greeting a wounded soldier.

William Henry Harrison candidacy broadside (1840)Ohio History Connection

This broadside from February 29, 1840, titled "Proposals for the Log Cabin" promotes the candidacy of William Henry Harrison bearing signatures of Harrison supporters. Some supporters portrayed him as a common man. It was not the first or last time that exaggerated and inaccurate claims have been made about a candidate by his friends.

'Hear General Harrison!' broadside (1840)Ohio History Connection

This broadside reveals the views of General William Henry Harrison on immigrants, and their rights as Americans, by summarizing a speech given by Harrison on October 1, 1840. Harrison's speech confronted accusations that he was against granting asylum to immigrants who wanted to escape "the oppression of foreign despots."

William Henry Harrison Campaign Ribbon (1840)Ohio History Connection

This white silk campaign ribbon was created for the presidential election of 1840 depicting candidate William Henry Harrison and a log cabin. Historians have described the 1840 campaign as the first modern political campaign because Harrison broke with tradition and campaigned actively for president.

William Henry Harrison Campaign Cream Pitcher (1840)Ohio History Connection

This cream pitcher bearing a portrait of William Henry Harrison was made in England for the 1840 U. S. presidential campaign. The banner states “HARRISON & REFORM”. Harrison went on to defeat President Martin Van Buren in the U.S. presidential election of 1840.

William Henry Harrison tomb (1895)Ohio History Connection

Death of a President

Although "Old Tippecanoe" rode his wartime experience into the White House, it would prove to be a short-lived success.

William H. Harrison's inauguration (March 4, 1841)Ohio History Connection

Street scene of William Harrison's Inauguration on March 4, 1841. Harrison contracted pneumonia while giving a speech on this rainy day. He died from the illness only a month later, giving him the unfortunate distinction of being our nation's shortest-serving President.

Grouseland photograph (ca. 1920-1960)Ohio History Connection

This is the main house at Grouseland, the home built by William Henry Harrison in 1804 at Vincennes, Indiana, the territory's capital, in 1801. It is now known as the William Henry Harrison Mansion and Museum. Grouseland has been restored and is a National Historic Landmark run by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

William Henry Harrison tomb (1895)Ohio History Connection

This is the tomb of William Henry Harrison in North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio. The stucco covering the brick and the flagstone roof were added to the tomb in 1879. His wife, Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison and two of their children are also buried here.

'Our Nation's Choice' election broadside (ca. 1880)Ohio History Connection

Eventually Harrison's grandson, Benjamin, would put the family back in the White House. This broadside was printed by the Republican party during the presidential campaign of Benjamin Harrison and Levi P. Morton. The lower corners feature illustrations and quotes of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Benjamin would ultimately go on to become the 23rd President of the United States.

Today, you can visit the William Henry Harrison Tomb, where President Harrison was laid to rest in 1841. Harrison had expressed a desire to be buried on Mt. Nebo in North Bend, Ohio, within site of the corners of three states—Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Because of this choice, the tomb features a sweeping view of the Ohio River Valley.

The tomb itself has 24 vaults and contains the bodies of William Henry Harrison, his wife, Anna, and other members of the family.

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The Ohio History Connection

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