William Henry Harrison

The country's ninth president

Background

Harrison was born on February 9th, 1773 on a Virginia plantation. His family was wealthy and well-connected.


He studied classics and history at Hampden-Sydney College. He then went on to study medicine in Richmond.


In 1791 Harrison joined the First Infantry of the Regular Army and headed to the Northwest. He served under General Anthony Wayne as they fought against the Northwest Indian Conference.

What Prompted His Career as a Politician

After serving in the Army, Harrison became the governor of the Indiana Territory for twelve years.


After this, Harrison spent decades seeking one form of a political office or another. He eventually served in the House of Representatives for the state of Ohio from 1816 - 1819.


After this, Harrison became a member of the Ohio state Senate. Then, in 1824, he won a seat in the United States Senate.


Harrison was appointed the ambassador to Colombia due to his connections. However, when a new president was elected, he was fired. He returned to Ohio and had no more political successes until his bid for the Presidency.

His Political Stance

Harrison was a member of the Whig party. Many people believed the Whigs drew support from older, rich men (similar to the way the Republican party is viewed today).

His Contribution to His Time

- Harrison was the first Whig party candidate to be elected President.

- Harrison was the first President to die in office.

- Harrison was notable for the way his campaign managers changed his image to garner votes for him (they are noted as "having made a common man of an aristocrat.")

How are the Effects of his Administration Felt Today

After Harrison died in office, he was succeeded by his Vice President, John Tyler. Many ironically dubbed Tyler "His Accidency," and throughout the course of his term many letters arrived for him, addressed to "the acting President." He sent them back unopened. As a direct result of Harrison's death, it is understood that the Vice President becomes the President, with all the duties thereof, and not "the acting President" until the end of the term.

Explain if He Was a Good President

Harrison was neither a good or bad President, as he died too soon into his term for it to be determined. Harrison died after only a month in office, before he had the chance to do anything major while in office.

What Did His Opponents Say?

Martin van Buren, who ran against Harrison for President in 1840, said that the Whigs were wildly diverse and united only by a hatred for Andrew Jackson -- in other words, that they had no political sense at all and had no real political knowledge, therefore meaning they could not solve political problems.

What are Some Lessons from Him?

- One lesson from Harrison is that connections can pay off in the end, as it was his -connections that gave him the post of Ambassador to Colombia.


- Another lesson from Harrison is that what you want to do and what you can do do not always line up, as seen by his repeated failures in politics.


- Lastly, an important lesson from Harrison is to dress appropriately. Harrison died of pneumonia exactly one month after taking office. His pneumonia was a result of a cold he got after not wearing a hat or cold while giving a two-hour speech in cold, rainy weather.

Quotes from this President

- There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.


- The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.


- I contend that the strongest of all governments is that which is most free.