William Harrison

William Harrison died one month after assuming the office of President. He is probably best know for being the first President to die in office. Elected 1840


The Early Years

William Harrison was born on the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. Harrison grew up during the Revolutionary War, during which his home was ransacked by the British. Harrison chose medicine as his desired profession. He studied premedical studies at Hampden Sydney College. In 1791 he enrolled in the Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, he learned that his father had died. He remained for a year at school, but when his money ran out he decided to join the army. Harrison fought in the Indian War in the Northwest Territories.

For two years, in 1791-1800, Harrison served as the delegate of the Northwest territories to the US House. This was a non-voting position. From 1798-1799 he served as the Secretary of the Northwest Territories.

From 1800-1812 Harrison served as the Governor of Indiana Territory. He was appointed to this position by John Adams. As governor, he led 300 regulars and a 650-man militia against the Indian confederacy, led by the Shawnee brothers Tecumseh and the Prophet. The Indians attacked in a pre-dawn raid near Tippecanoe Creek. The Indians were repulsed and Harrison rallied his men to an overwhelming victory. The battle earned Harrison the nickname Old Tippecanoe.

Harrison fought in the war of 1812. He was commissioned Major General and led the attacks in the Northwest Territories against the British. He successfully recaptured Detroit, then pursued the fleeing British and at Catham, Ontario, in October of 1813, won the victory of the Battle of Thames. This overwhelming victory turned Harrison into a national hero.

From 1816-1819 Harrison served as Representative in the US House. For the next four years, he served as an Ohio state senator. From 1825-1828 he became a US Senator. In 1828 he was appointed by President Adams as Minister to Columbia. He was recalled when Jackson became President. He then retired to his farm.


Accomplishments in Office

Harrison, despite being the oldest President when inaugurated (68), insisted on giving a one and a half hour inaugural speech on a blustery March morning. He caught a cold and was bed-ridden from that day on. He died a month later.



The First Family

Father: Benjamin Harrison, V
Mother: Elizabeth Basset
Daughters: Elizabeth Betsy, Lucy Singelton, Mary Symmes, Ann Tuthill
Sons: John Cleves, William Henry Jr., John Scott, Benjamin Harrison


Major Events



The Cabinet

Secretary of State: Daniel Webster
Secretary of the Treasury: Thomas Ewing
Secretary of War: John Bell
Attorney General: John Crittenden
Secretary of the Navy: George Badger
Postmaster General: Francis Granger



No Action


Did You Know?

First President to die in office.
Only President to have studied to be a doctor.
The shortest Presidency in American history.
The only President whose grandson became President.

Inaugural Address