Ohio’s Great 8: William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

Although his presidency is best known for being short, his life was anything but uneventful. William Henry Harrison was the first person from Ohio to become president and only the ninth person overall.

Harrison was born in the Virginian Colony, which was still part of England at the time, on February, 9th 1773. His birthplace, Berkeley Plantation, is still open for tours in Virginia and contains many artifacts and other interesting memorabilia from its 4 centuries of existence. He spent his childhood there until he entered college at the age of 18.

At the age of 18 he entered the Military. A career that would define his life. His first post was with the U.S. Army, 1st Infantry Regiment in Cincinnati in the Northwest Territories. After a massive defeat by General Arthur St.Clair near modern day Fort Recovery, Ohio command of the western army was transferred to “Mad Anthony” Wayne. Under Wayne’s leadership Harrison fought in the Battle of Fallen Timbers (memorialized at Fallen Timbers Battlefield Memorial Park.)  A decisive victory in the battle brought about the end of the Northwest Indian Wars. With the signing of the Treaty of Greenville most of Ohio was open to European settlers.

After a successful military career Harrison became took a job in the Northwest Territory government, the first in a long line of political positions he would hold over his life time. From this position he would move on to become the first delegate of the Territories to congress, and then on to become Governor of the newly created Indiana Territory. as Governor Harrison moved his family to the capital of the territory and established Grouseland (now a museum).

Even though Harrison had signed many treaties with the natives of the area, conflicts still arose. Nov 7, 1811, near the convergence of the Tippecanoe and Wabash rivers, Harrison and his men met a confederacy of Native Americans led by Tecumseh. After a long battle Harrison was victorious. From then on he would have the nickname “Tippecanoe”.

Only a few months later America entered another conflict with the British and William Henry Harrison was there to fight for his nation. For defense he built Fort Meigs near Perrysburg, Ohio, which still stands today. He was victorious in many of his battles, including the Battle of the Thames, in which Tecumseh was killed.

After the war Harrison served as US congressman in both the House and Senate, as an Ohio State Senator, and as Ambassador to Gran Colombia. Finally in 1836 Harrison ran for President of the United States, but lost to Martin Van Buren. The next election was to be different however.

In 1840 William Henry Harrison ran a second time. This time he ran a strong campaign. When the Democrats said he would only want to sit in his log cabin and drink cider, not run the country, he used log cabins and cider as campaign symbols. When they said he had done nothing in the war, he campaign became “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”

Even though he won the presidency it was to be a short lived term. A few weeks after being sworn in Harrison came down with a cold which turned into pneumonia and pleurisy. His was first buried at Congressional William H Harrison TombCemetery in Washington, D.C before being moved to his final resting place.

William Henry Harrison is buried in North Bend Ohio.

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