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William Henry Harrison: 9th President: Old Tippecanoe

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

Harrison's Military Career

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

At the age of 14, Wiliam Henry went to Hamden-Sydney College, then studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. When his father died, he could not 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 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 could be settled by Americans. Harrison's success allowed him to be promoted to captain. He then became the commander of Ohio's Fort Washington. It is 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 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 Territories.

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.

Battle of Tippecanoe and the Death of Tecumseh

In 1801, he became governor for 12 years for the Indiana Territory, now known as Indiana and Illinois. His primary duties were to defend against Indian raids and to obtain the 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 grounds. The Indians became strong and formed a powerful 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, 190 men died or became wounded. Due to his success, he became nicknamed "Old Tippecanoe."

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The raids were only temporarily thwarted; by 1812, the Indian attacks came back in 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.

What Was William Henry Harrison's Campaign Slogan in 1840?

Due to his success in the 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 noticed him for his great success on both political and military platforms. They then decided to nominate him as President. In his first run in 1836, he lost to Martin Van Buren, but the Whig party backed him again, along with John Tyler as Vice-President. Their campaign slogan was "Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." They won by a landslide in the 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 age 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, 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.

Excerpt from the History Channel

Basic Facts about President WIlliam Harrison

Question Answer


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

Fun Facts about President Harrison

  • He died on his 32nd day of becoming President, serving the shortest term of any U.S. president.
  • 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.
  • He was the only president to study to be a medical doctor.

Tomb of President William Henry Harrison

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


  • 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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