9th President 1841
William Henry Harrison, the only president who
studied to be a doctor, served the shortest
Presidency. He died of pneumonia one month after
delivering his 105 minute outdoor inaugural speech
without wearing an overcoat or hat.
Harrison studied classics and history at
Hampton-Sydney College and medicine at Richmond. In 1791, he
switched interests and obtained a commission in the First
Infantry of the Regular Army and headed to the
In his campaign against the Indians, Harrison served as an aide-de-camp to General
"Mad Anthony" Wayne at the Battle of Fallen Timbers,
which opened most of the Ohio area for settlement.
He also also
fought in the
War of 1812.
After resigning from the Army in 178, he became Secretary to
the Northwest Territory, was its first delegate to Congress,
and helped obtain legislation dividing the Territory into
the Northwest and Indiana Territories. In 1801, he became
Governor of the Indiana Territory serving twelve years.
His prime task as Governor was to obtain title to Indian
lands so settlers could press further into the wilderness.
When the Indians retaliated, Harrison was responsible for
defending the settlements.
The thrust against the settlers became serious in 1809. An
eloquent and energetic Chieftain Tecumseh, with his
religious Chieftain brother, the Prophet, began to
strengthen an Indian Confederation to prevent further
encroachment. In 1811, Harrison received permission to
attack the Confederacy.
While Tecumseh was away seeking more allies, Harrison led
about 1000 men toward the Prophet's town. Suddenly, before
dawn, the Indians attacked the camp on Tippecanoe River.
After heavy fighting, Harrison repulsed them but
suffered 190 dead and wounded.
The Battle of Tippecanoe disrupted Tecumseh's Confederacy,
but failed to diminish Indian raids. By the Spring of 1812,
Harrison was given command of the Army in the Northwest and
the rank of Brigadier General. At the Battle of Thames,
north of Lake Erie, on October 5, 1813, he defeated the
combined British and Indian forces, and killed Tecumseh. The
Indians scattered, never again to offer serious resistance
in what was then called the Northwest.
In 1840, the Whigs nominated Harrison for President. Before
he had been in office for a month, he caught a cold that
developed into pneumonia. He died April 4, 1841.