I solemnly swear that I will faithfully
execute the Office of President aaaaaaaaaaaand I’m dead.
By Bob Simpson (Writer)
Our Presidential fun continues! As you know by now, I’ve dedicated the last few weeks, and all weeks leading up to the Presidential Election on November 6th, to the memory of our less-memorable residents in the White House.
For the next three weeks, I’m going to present a series within a series (watched a lot of Dr. Who lately), featuring a special segment of our Presidential population: war heroes.
Where it was once almost automatic that a war hero could be elected to the highest office in the nation, this tradition has fallen by the wayside, and based on the mixed results of our war hero Presidents, this isn’t a bad thing.
Now, before people start to scratch their heads, I will not be covering the administrations of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, or Dwight Eisenhower. Why? Because most people know who they are, and these three men had effective terms in office (though controversial, in the case of Andrew Jackson).
Instead, we are going to focus on three lesser known war hero Presidents: William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Ulysses S. Grant. Sure, people know who Grant was, but so little is said about his abysmal turn as chief executive of our country. However, I’m getting ahead of myself, as this week we’re going to cover Ole’ Tippecanoe himself, William Henry Harrison.
Harrison was born in Virginia, and joined the army at 18, where he fought in the Northwest Indian War. After resigning from the military in 1797, Harrison served as Secretary of the Northwest Territory and in Congress, and later served as Governor of the Indiana Territory.
Harrison was thrust back into a military role during an uprising of Native Americans led by Tecumseh. The most famous battle, the Battle of Tippecanoe, saw Harrison defeat the Shawnee and essentially end the conflict. The battle made Harrison a nationally known figure, though his troops greatly outnumbered the Shawnee, and his casualties were significant.
When the War of 1812 began, Harrison was placed in charge of the Army of the Northwest, where he led a successful campaign against the British and Shawnee, including a significant victory at the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh was killed.
After resigning from the army again, Harrison ran for President as the Whig nominee in 1836, though he lost due to a cockamamie strategy by the Whig party to get the House of Representatives to decide the election.
Harrison ran for President again in 1840 against Martin Van Buren, and this election became one of the first to feature one party (Democrat) railing against their presidential opponent as a commoner, without the brains to hold the most powerful office in the nation. The Democrats painted Harrison as an old man that would rather “sit in his log cabin and drink cider.” The strategy actually worked in Harrison’s favor, as he and his running mate, John Tyler, made a determined effort to enforce the perception of Harrison as a simple man, including using the log cabin and jugs of cider as images on their campaign banners.
Harrison won the electoral vote by a landslide.
Harrison wanted to send a message to the American people that he was the rough-and-tumble, tough son-of-a-gun they had voted for, namely by refusing to wear a coat or hat during his inauguration in March of 1841.
Harrison’s record as President was…well…there wasn’t one really, as Harrison became ill with a cold 22 days after his inauguration, and never recovered. He died from pneumonia on April 4, 1841.
The Whigs, who had clearly hoped to use Harrison as puppet to push their own agenda, were dealt a serious blow by Harrison’s death, and the abandonment of the Whig platform by John Tyler.
Some Additional Harrison Fun Facts:
- Last President born as a British subject.
- His father signed the Declaration of Independence.
- He has the shortest term as President, at exactly 1 month.
- Despite what most say, Harrison did not die because he refused to wear a coat or hat at his inauguration address. The cold that turned to pneumonia and killed him did not arise until 3 weeks after his inauguration.
- He was the first sitting President to have his photograph taken.
- Harrison’s grandson, Benjamin Harrison, would become the 23rd President of the United States.
Oh, and this is hilarious, also:
is a writer and lives in Los Angeles, where he works for an
entertainment company that he'd prefer to keep anonymous, should he
accidentally diss something they made. www.bobsimpsonblog.blogspot.com
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