William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) originally gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, where Harrison’s forces fought off followers of the powerful Shawnee leader Tecumseh (1768-1813). Although the U.S. suffered significant troop losses and the battle’s outcome was inconclusive and did not end Indian resistance, Harrison ultimately emerged with his reputation as an Indian fighter intact, and earned the nickname “Tippecanoe” (or “Old Tippecanoe”). He capitalized on this image during his 1840 presidential campaign, using the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too,”
After a dozen years as governor of the Indiana Territory, Harrison rejoined the Army when the War of 1812 began. He was made a brigadier general and placed in charge of the Army of the Northwest, on September 17, 1812. Promoted to major general, Harrison worked diligently to transform his army from an untrained mob into a disciplined fighting force. Unable to go on the offensive while British ships controlled Lake Erie, Harrison worked to defend American settlements.
In late September 1813, after the American victory at the Battle of Lake Erie, Harrison moved to the attack. Ferried to Detroit by Master Commandant Oliver H. Perry’s victorious squadron, Harrison set off in pursuit British and Native American forces under Major General Henry Proctor and Tecumseh. Catching them on October 5, Harrison won a key victory at the Battle of the Thames which saw Tecumseh killed, the war on the Lake Erie front effectively ended, and the dissolution of the Indian coalition.
Harrison told US Secretary of War John Armstrong, Jr. that all his casualties were a result of the native warriors, not the British regulars. Unable to sustain or build on his victory, Harrison and his men headed for Detroit, the Americans now in firm control of the North West frontier. Procter would continue to command those who had fought with him, but his poor handling of the retreat and battle would be his undoing. Though a skilled and popular commander, Harrison resigned the following summer after disagreements with Secretary of War John Armstrong.
After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1824 the state legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate. He served a truncated term after being appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia in May 1828. In Colombia, he spoke with Simón Bolívar urging his nation to adopt American-style democracy.
Harrison was elected as the ninth President of the United States in 1840, and died on his 32nd day in office of pneumonia in April 1841- the first president to die in office and serving the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. He was the last President born as a British subject. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but its resolution settled many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by the Constitution until the passage of the 25th Amendment in 1967. He was the grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, who was the 23rd President from 1889 to 1893.
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The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, we blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. Please visit other challenge writers.
My theme is ‘The War of 1812’, a military conflict, lasting for two-and-a-half years, fought by the United States of America against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, its North American colonies, and its American Indian allies. The Memoirs of a British naval officer from the war is central to my novel “Seeking A Knife” – part of the Snowdon Shadows series.
Further reading on The War of 1812: