Knowing the Presidents: William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison  

Ninth President, 1841


Due to his military career, William Henry Harrison became the frontrunner of the Whig Party—a new political faction assembled by opposition to Jackson. Despite his aristocratic Virginian roots, the 1840 campaign remade Harrison as a heroic western Indian fighter, living in a log cabin and drinking hard cider. “Old Tip” was transformed from a genteel blueblood into the everyman, and with this image, he won the election.


As he had the most fleeting presidency in our history, William Henry Harrison died too soon to prove himself. His promises included a weak executive office (meaning the President did not have authoritative power), particularly in the management of fiscal policy. Also, although he owned slaves and criticized anti-slavery, he thought slaves should make their own decisions about their freedom.

Major Acts:

William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural address ever—almost two hours—on a cold day without an overcoat. He succumbed to pneumonia exactly one month into office.


At age 68, William Henry Harrison was the oldest president to date, and the first to die in office.