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William Henry Harrison
William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 - April 4, 1841) was the ninth (1841)
President of the United States of America. He was born at the family estate
Berkeley Plantation (Virginia). Harrison, like many other early presidents, was a
Virginia plantation owner. His father had been signatory to the Declaration
of Independence, and his brother a member of the United States House of Representatives.
When he was 18, Harrison enlisted in the army, and he quickly rose through
the ranks to become governor of Indiana. It was in this capacity that he
defeated a rebellion of Native Americans under the leadership of Tecumseh.
At the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, Tecumseh was killed; Harrison was
promoted to general and fought with distinction in the War of 1812.
After the war, he was elected to various political offices, including the
House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the Northern
Whig candidate for President in 1836, but lost the election to Martin Van
Buren. He was a candidate again in 1840, when he won largely because of his
heroic military record and the fact that there had been a severe economic
downturn. His vice president was John Tyler. Their campaign slogans of "Log
Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" are among the most
famous in American politics.
It was an extremely cold day, March 4, 1841, when Harrison was to take the
oath of office. Nevertheless, he faced the weather with no coat on, and
delivered the longest inaugural address in American history, at nearly two
hours. During this address he caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia.
He passed away a month later, becoming the first American president to die
in office. He served the shortest term of any American president. John Tyler
succeeded him to the Presidency shortly thereafter.
Harrison's grandson, Benjamin Harrison, was also president, making the two
of them the only grandparent-grandchild pair of presidents so far.