William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was the ninth President of the United States, an American military officer and politician, and the first president to die in office. The oldest president elected until Ronald Reagan in 1980, and last President to be born before the United States Declaration of Independence, Harrison died on his thirty-second day in office of complications from a cold – the shortest tenure in United States presidential history. Harrison was born into the prominent Harrison political family on the Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, on February 9, 1773; the youngest ofBenjamin Harrison V and Elizabeth Bassett's seven children. He was the last president to be born a British subject before American Independence. His father was a Virginia planter and a delegate to the Continental Congress (1774–1777) who signed the Declaration of Independence and was governor of Virginia between 1781 and 1784. Harrison's brother, Carter Bassett Harrison, became a representative of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, and Harrison's father-in-law was Representative John Cleves Symmes. Harrison's stepmother-in-law was the daughter of New Jersey Governor William Livingston. In 1787, at the age of 14, Harrison entered the Presbyterian HampdenSydney College. He attended the school until 1790, becoming well-versed in Latin and basic French. He was removed by his Episcopalian father, possibly because of a religious revival occurring at the school. He then briefly attended an academy in Southampton County before being again moved to Richmond where he began the study of medicine. He allegedly became involved with the antislavery Quakers and Methodists at the school, angering his proslavery father who again moved him toPhiladelphia to board with Robert Morris, probably because of medical training available there. He entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1790 and there he continued to study medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush. As Harrison explained to his biographer, he did not enjoy the subject.

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Shortly after he had arrived in Philadelphia in 1791, his father died, leaving him without funds for further schooling. He was 18 when his father died, and was left in the guardianship of Morris. His death sparked a brief constitutional crisis, but that crisis ultimately resolved many questions about presidential succession left unanswered by theConstitution until passage of the 25th Amendment. Before election as president, Harrison served as the first territorial congressional delegate from the Northwest Territory, governor of the Indiana Territory and later as a U.S. representative and senator from Ohio. He originally gained national fame for leading U.S. forces against American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, where he earned the nickname"Tippecanoe" (or "Old Tippecanoe"). As a general in the subsequent War of 1812, his most notable contribution was a victory at the Battle of the Thames in 1813, which brought an end to hostilities in his region. After the war, Harrison moved to Ohio, where he was elected to the United States Congress, and in 1824 he became a member of the Senate. There he served a truncated term before being appointed as Minister Plenipotentiary to Colombia in May 1828. In Colombia, he lectured Simon Bolívar on the finer points of democracy before returning to his farm in Ohio, where he lived in relative retirement until he was nominated for the presidency in 1836. Defeated, he retired again to his farm before being elected president in 1840.

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