William Henry Harrison
9th president - 1841
Saturday 17 January 2009
The first president to die in office, Harrison was notable mainly for the brevity of his presidency (31 days); for the populism of his election campaign; and for his achievements before being elected. The child of an aristocratic Virginia planter family, he initially trained as a doctor before becoming a professional soldier. He served with distinction in the war of 1812-14, becoming a brigadier-general; but was chiefly famous for his campaigns against the Native Americans, notably his crushing victories over Tecumseh's Indian confederation at Tippecanoe in 1811 and at the Battle of the Thames in 1813.
His presidential campaign presented him as a simple frontiersman, living in a log cabin and drinking cider – in contrast to the effete, champagne-sipping Van Buren. His supporters pressed his cause with an unprecedented degree of razzmatazz, with huge parades, rallies lasting several days, and a range of gimmicks and souvenirs such as whiskey sold in log-cabin bottles. He won by a majority of less than 150,000, but comfortably swept the Electoral College, 234 to 60. Shortly after taking office, he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. He died on 4 April, 1841; and (according to the official White House history): "with him died the Whig program".
In his own words
"The people are the best guardians of their own rights and it is the duty of their executive to abstain from interfering in or thwarting the sacred exercise of the lawmaking functions of their government."
In others' words
"As unconscious as a child of his difficulties and those of his country, he seems to enjoy his election as a mere affair of personal vanity. It is really distressing to see him." Senator John C Calhoun
As well as having the shortest presidency, Harrison had the distinction of delivering (to date) the longest inaugural address: an hour and 45 minutes. It is possible that the cold he caught while delivering it may have contributed to the illness that eventually killed him.
During the 1836 election campaign, Harrison's Democrat opponents took to asking voters to say Harrison's name backwards – producing the phrase "No, sirrah!"
He was a distant descendant of Henry III.
The body of one of his sons, John Scott Harrison, was stolen by grave-robbers and sold to a medical school – only to be recognised by his son, who was a medical student.
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...