10 Interesting and Important Facts About William Henry Harrison

Louis T. Rebisso's William Henry Harrison statue
Louis T. Rebisso's William Henry Harrison statue. Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

William Henry Harrison lived from Feb. 9, 1773, to April 4, 1841. He was elected the ninth president of the United States in 1840 and took office on March 4, 1841. However, he would serve the shortest time as president, dying only one month after taking office. Following are ten key facts that are important to understand when studying the life and presidency of William Henry Harrison.

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Son of a Patriot

William Henry Harrison's father, Benjamin Harrison, was a famous patriot who opposed the Stamp Act and signed the Declaration of Independence. He served as the Governor of Virginia while his son was young. The family home was attacked and ransacked during the American Revolution.

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Dropped Out of Medical School

Originally, Harrison wanted to be a doctor and actually attended the Pennsylvania Medical School. However, he could not afford the tuition and dropped out to join the military.

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Married Anna Tuthill Symmes

On November 25, 1795, Harrison married Anna Tuthill Symmes despite her father’s protests. She was wealthy and well educated. Her father did not approve of Harrison's military career. Together they had nine children. Their son, John Scott, would later be the father of Benjamin Harrison who would be elected as the 23rd President of the United States.

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Indian Wars

Harrison fought in the Northwest Territory Indian Wars from 1791-1798, winning the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. At Fallen Timbers, approximately 1,000 Native Americans joined together in battle against US troops. They were forced to retreat.

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Treaty of Grenville

Harrison's actions at the Battle of Fallen Timbers led to his being promoted to captain and the privilege of his being present for the signing of the Treaty of Grenville in 1795. The terms of the treaty required the Native American tribes give up their claims to the Northwest Territory land in exchange for hunting rights and a sum of money.

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Governor of the Indiana Territory.

In 1798, Harrison left military service to be the secretary of the Northwest Territory. In 1800, Harrison was named the governor of the Indiana Territory. He was required to continue to acquire lands from the Native Americans while at the same time ensuring that they were treated fairly. He was governor until 1812 when he resigned to join the military again.

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"Old Tippecanoe"

Harrison was nicknamed "Old Tippecanoe" and ran for president with the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" due to his victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. Even though he was still governor at the time, he headed a force against the Indian Confederacy which was led by Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet. They attacked Harrison and his forces while they slept, but the future president was able to stop the attack. Harrison then burned the Indian village of Prophetstown in retaliation. This is the source of 'Tecumseh's Curse' which would later be cited upon Harrison's untimely death.

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War of 1812

In 1812, Harrison rejoined the military to fight in the War of 1812. He ended the war as a major general of the Northwest Territories. s forces retook Detroit and decisively won the Battle of the Thames, becoming a national hero in the process.

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Won Election of 1840 With 80% of the Vote

Harrison first ran and lost the presidency in 1836. In 1840, however, he easily won the election with 80% of the electoral vote. The election is seen as the first modern campaign complete with advertising and campaign slogans.

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Shortest Presidency

When Harrison took office, he delivered the longest inaugural address on record even though the weather was bitterly cold. He further got caught outside in the freezing rain. He ended the inauguration with a cold that grew worse, ending in his death on April 4, 1841. This was only one month after taking office. As stated previously, some people claimed that his death was the result of Tecumseh’s Curse. Oddly, all seven presidents who were elected in a year that ended in a zero were either assassinated or died in office until 1980 when Ronald Reagan survived an assassination attempt and finished out his term.

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Kelly, Martin. "10 Interesting and Important Facts About William Henry Harrison." ThoughtCo, Jul. 29, 2021, thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-william-harrison-105493. Kelly, Martin. (2021, July 29). 10 Interesting and Important Facts About William Henry Harrison. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-william-harrison-105493 Kelly, Martin. "10 Interesting and Important Facts About William Henry Harrison." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/things-to-know-about-william-harrison-105493 (accessed June 8, 2023).