(11.) WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON (1773-1841)
“Old Rough and Ready”
Whig Harrison/John Tyler
Defeated by Democrat Martin Van Buren/Richard Johnson, 1836
Harrison was sincere, generous and patriotic. He was thought of as a character without reproach and his army career was marked by gallantry during Gen. Wayne’s expedition against the Indians in the Northwest. Giving up secretaryship of the Northwest Territory, Harrison represented this section in Congress in 1799 and became Governor of the Indiana Territory the following year. He was just and skillful in handling Indian affairs. Only after a conference with Tecumseh failed to quell hostilities, Harrison opened battle against the chief, winning a victory at Tippecanoe River in 1811.
As a major general during the War of 1812, Harrison decisively defeated the British and Indians at the Battle of the Thames.
The slavery question had reached a peak of interest that was forming a basis for new parties – all with different ideas of solving the looming troubles. In 1840 he staged his “log cabin and hard cider” campaign, winning the presidency and making the longest inaugural speech of any president in inclement weather. He died of pneumonia within a month. His wife was the first widow of a president to receive a pension.