Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 4, 2012

William Henry Harrison

April 4, 1841: President William Henry Harrison dies, the first sitting US President to do so. Harrison was born February 9, 1773. Before being elected as 9th POTUS he held a number of political offices. He was the Secretary of the Northwest Territory when he was 25 and a Congressional Delegate the next year. He was the first Governor of the Indiana Territory from 1801-1812. From 1816-1819 he was a member of the US House of Representatives (for Ohio). He was an Ohio Senator and then a US Senator (Ohio), Chaired the Senate Committee of Military Affairs, and was the US Minister to Colombia.

Harrison was born in Virginia to a strong political family (his father was a delegate to the Continental Congress and signed the Declaration of Independence). Other Harrisons also held various political position. William entered college at age 14; he studied medicine but didn’t like it. His father died and the family’s funds were short. Virginia Governor Henry Lee immediately stepping in and offered William a place in the Army. He was 18 and with the 11th US Regiment of Infantry when he was first sent to the Northwest Territory. He was a quick study and was promoted rapidly. He led his troops to victory and eventually picked up the nickname, Tippecanoe in 1811.

Harrison ran for President in 1836 and lost to Martin Van Buren of the Democratic Party. Harrison and Hugh White were both running on the Whig ticket, the only time a major party ran two candidates. The 1840 election had incumbent Van Buren against Harrison as the single Whig candidate. Van Buren’s electoral college vote dropped from 170 to 60 and he carried only 6 states rather than 15. Harrison took 19 states and 234 votes. Tippecanoe and Tyler too took over the White House on March 4, 1841. Harrison was the last president to be born before the Revolution and the oldest to be elected until 1980 and Ronald Regan.

Harrison became ill on March 26. Many blamed the weather during his inauguration (as well as the length of his speech). However, medical science disagrees. It was three weeks before he developed a cold which turned into pneumonia. His treatments were more harmful than helpful. He died at 12:30 AM from pneumonia, jaundice, and septicemia. He was 68 and served the shortest term as President, dying on his 32nd day. After his death, there was a great bit of turmoil about Presidential Succession. The issue was finally decided by the 25th Amendment, ratified in 1967, after John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

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

To Englishmen, life is a topic, not an activity.

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

There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power. – all from William Henry Harrison

Also on this day:

US Flag – In 1818, the US adopted a new flag.
Robert Walpole – In 1721, Walpole became England’s first Prime Minister.
Strike While the Iron is Hot – In 1871, Mrs. Potts’ Sad Irons were patented.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on April 4, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Not much change by the 25th admendment- the order of succession was formalized. Within 2 hours of John F. Kennedy dying Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as he was flown to Dallas in the older Air Force presidental plane. While he was still standing from being sworn in he phoned me to tell me to get ready for him to ask a few things to do- I had refused to have anything to do anything with Kennedy because of his bullying and outright lying about Cuba. A few hours later Jackie called me to say that John had been shot and killed.

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