William Henry Harrison (1773–1841), the son of Declaration of Independence signer Benjamin Harrison, graduated from Virginia’s Hampden-Sydney College, but abandoned subsequent medical studies to pursue a career in the military. After resigning from the army in 1798, he served as secretary of the Northwest Territory and then as its first delegate to Congress. Harrison was sworn in as governor of the Indiana Territory (the western half of the former Northwest Territory) in 1801, a position he held for twelve years. Tensions between white settlers and Indians in the territory had been steadily rising, and the governor decided to confront an Indian confederacy headed by Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother, the Prophet. Before dawn on November 7, 1811, Harrison and his army of one thousand men were attacked at their encampment on the Tippecanoe River. Though both sides suffered heavy losses, Tecumseh’s confederacy was disrupted, and Harrison’s role in the fight became legend. Harrison was given command of the army in the Northwest. Harrison resigned from the Army in 1814. Over the next twenty-five years, he served as an Ohio state legislator, US congressman and senator, and minister to Colombia. An unsuccessful Whig candidate for president in 1836, Harrison had more luck in the next election. Though Martin Van Buren received a greater percentage of the popular vote, “Old Tippecanoe” captured the electoral vote. Harrison assumed the office on March 4, 1841, after delivering the longest inaugural speech on record, in inhospitable weather. One month after his inauguration, the sixty-eight-year-old president was dead from pneumonia.

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