William Henry Harrison

— 9th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery

March 4, 1841 to April 4, 1841

BORN: February 9, 1773
Berkeley, Virginia
April 4, 1841, Washington, D.C.
Buried in North Bend, Ohio
Farmer, soldier
Anna Symmes, 1795
John Scott, William Henry, Jr.

William Henry Harrison was born in Berkeley, Virginia. He was the son of Colonel Ben Harrison, one of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

As a child, William Henry was taught at home by tutors because there were no schools nearby. These tutors made a big difference in his life. He was able to enroll in college at age 14. He did not stay in college long because his father died, and he could not afford to go to school.

When he was almost eight, a unit of Hessian troops and American loyalists under the command of General Benedict Arnold attacked Harrison's Berkeley home. While the Harrisons fled to safety, the home was ransacked and stripped of its furnishings, livestock were slaughtered, and slaves and horses were carried off.

After his father died, Harrison joined the Army. The Army assigned him to the Northwest Territory (roughly Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana today). He soon became governor of the Indiana Territory and held the job for 12 years. During that time, he led troops in the War of 1812 and became a national hero when he led his forces to victory in the Battle of Tippecanoe Creek. He then went on to become the secretary of the Northwest Territory, a senator, and a representative in the Congress of the United States.

In 1840, the Whig party nominated him for president. He won the election by a landslide. The day of Harrison's inauguration was cold and rainy. Harrison, at age 68, wanted to show he was in good health. He rode on horseback in the parade for two hours and took the oath of office bareheaded. He delivered a 1 hour, 40 minute inaugural address without a coat or gloves.

As a result, Harrison caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. He died on April 4, 1841, only 32 days after his inauguration.

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