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William Henry Harrison: The Record-Breaking President

February 18, 20244 min read

“The strongest of all governments is that which is most free.” - William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States. He was born on February 9, 1773, in Virginia. Before becoming president, he had a long and distinguished career in public service, including serving as a military officer, territorial governor, and congressman. Harrison's military background, particularly his role in the War of 1812, helped propel him to national prominence and set the stage for his eventual bid for the presidency.

Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

In the election of 1840, William Henry Harrison ran as the Whig Party candidate against President Martin Van Buren. Harrison's campaign slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," highlighted his military exploits and portrayed him as a man of the people.

Tippecanoe refers to the Battle of Tippecanoe, which William Henry Harrison fought in during the War of 1812. It took place in the Indiana Territory, where Harrison led U.S. forces against Native American tribes led by Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa, also known as the Prophet. Harrison's victory at Tippecanoe made him a national hero.

Tyler Too refers to John Tyler, who was William Henry Harrison's running mate for vice president. So, when people chanted "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," they were showing their support for William Henry Harrison's military record and leadership skills, as well as his running mate, John Tyler. It was a clever way to drum up excitement and rally people to their cause during the presidential campaign of 1840!

Harrison's victory in the election marked the first time a Whig candidate had won the presidency.

Issues and Events During WHH’s Presidency

Harrison's presidency saw tensions with Native American tribes, as well as economic challenges stemming from the Panic of 1837. But he never really had a chance to deal with either of them.

Harrison the Record-Breaking President

William Henry Harrison's death is often considered ironic because it occurred shortly after he delivered one of the longest inaugural addresses in U.S. history, despite being the oldest president to be inaugurated at the time. Harrison's inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1841, lasted approximately two hours and covered a wide range of topics.

The irony lies in the fact that Harrison, who presented himself as a robust and energetic leader during his campaign, fell ill just days after delivering this lengthy speech. Some historians believe that Harrison's decision to give his inaugural address outdoors in cold and rainy weather contributed to his subsequent illness. He developed pneumonia shortly thereafter and passed away on April 4, 1841, just 31 days into his presidency.

William Henry Harrison was the first president to die in office, which sparked a constitutional crisis over the presidential succession. Harrison's death led to the ascension of Vice President John Tyler to the presidency, setting important precedents for future presidential successions.

Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison, would later serve as the 23rd President of the United States.

Learn more about William Henry Harrison here.

Recommended Reading

Crossing the Panther’s Path by Elizabeth Alder (ages 10 and up)

Crossing the Panther's Path

Fifteen-year-old Billy Calder, half Irish, half Mohawk, is a bright student at his Jesuit boarding school, fluent in several European and Indian tongues. Tecumseh, the Shawnee chief is seeking support to fight the encroachment of Americans into the upper Midwest. Though Billy is eager to join the cause of Tecumseh, he’s compelled to wait until he is a bit older. When he can stand it no longer, he finds his way to the village of Tippecanoe, where he becomes Tecumseh’s occasional confidant and principal interpreter. As failed negotiations with U.S. leaders make war inevitable, Billy never loses faith in the great chief or his goals, and is ready to face the battles ahead, whatever the consequences.

Nonfiction:

Tippecanoe 1811: The Prophet's Battle by John F. Winkler (older teen and adult)

Tippecanoe

This is the gripping story of the Tippecanoe campaign of 1811: "The prophet's battle". It was a conflict born out of festering tensions inscribed by the 1795 Treaty of Greeneville, which had concluded the Northwestern Indian War and attempted to prevent white settlers' encroachment onto newly-defined Indian territories.

Tecumseh and the Prophet: The Heroic Struggle for America's Heartland by Peter Cozzens (older teen and adult)

Tecumseh and the Prophet

The first biography of the great Shawnee leader to make clear that his misunderstood younger brother, Tenskwatawa, was an equal partner in the last great pan-Indian alliance against the United States.

William Henry Harrison Word Search puzzle

Download and print this free word search puzzle, which accompanies this article.

William Henry Harrison word search puzzle

U.S. PresidentsWilliam Henry HarrisonTippecanoe and Tyler Too
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