William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

  • Ranked #37: Harrison did not get much done. It's also important to note that he did not disgrace the office or the country in the process.
  • Summary: Harrison was a plain spoken, good humored, accessible type of guy. He was describe as unpretentious and kind. he liked walking, horse back riding and reading the bible.
  • Bio: He was the 9th president of the United States and he is famous for being “that guy” who didn’t live much longer than a month after entering the office. As tragic and insignificant that this might sound, Harrison’s election victory was anything but insignificant. It was 1840 and up until this point presidents were largely chosen by privileged, wealthy land owners.
    Harrison’s campaign was the first of it’s kind as it included slogans, songs and a narrative that did not necessarily describe Harrison accurately. In other words, political campaigns as we know them today were first established in Harrison’s campaign.
    He was the first person from the Whig party to be elected into office. He was painted as the popular general, (which he was) in addition to being a frontiers man who lived in a log cabin. In truth, he was a privileged aristocrat who lived in a mansion. After giving a nearly two hour inaugural address, (longest on record) on a very cold and rainy day in Washington DC without a proper overcoat, hat, gloves or protection from the elements. He then proceeded to greet people in this weather with wet clothing. Being 68 years old he developed a cold that grew larger over time and eventually drove him towards his death bed. It did not help that medicine at the time was fairly non productive. In an effort to help, they bleed him, blistered his skin and induced vomiting. It should be no surprise that the president did not take well to this.
    I think another factor is that Washington DC in 1840 was a somewhat hostile place to live. The city was more or less a re-purposed swamp area that had very poor sanitation and it is likely that the drinking water was questionable at best in terms of safety. As a result, one month after he took office he died.
  • Pros: The first Whig to enter office.
  • Cons: First president to die in office.
  • Born: February 9, 1773, Berkeley plantation, Charles City County, VA
  • Died: April 4, 1841 (aged 68) Washington, D.C.
  • Term: March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841 (died during first term )
  • Political Party: Whig
  • Religion: Episcopalian
  • Education: Hampden-Sydney College
  • Marriage: November 25, 1795, to Anna Tuthill Symmes (1775–1864)
  • Children:Elizabeth Bassett (1796–1846), John Cleves Symmes (1798–1830), Lucy Singleton (1800–1826), William Henry (1802–1838), John Scott (1804–1878), Benjamin (1806-1840), Mary Symmes (1809–1842), Carter Bassett (1811–1839), Anna Tuthill (1813–1865), James Findlay (1814–1817)
  • Career: Soldier
  • Vice President: John Tyler