08 July 2008

Cincinnati History Moment: William Henry Harrison

From Cincinnati: The Queen City:

Born on a Virginia plantation, young Harrison came to Fort Washington in 1791. Here he served as commandant and as an aide-de-camp to Gen. Anthony Wayne. In 1795 Harrison married Anna Symmes, daughter of John Cleves Symmes, resigned from the Army and moved to the village of North Bend...

Harrison embarked upon a long and successful political career in 1798 when President John Adams appointed him secretary of the Northwest Territory and subsequently governor of the Indiana Territory. As governor, Harrison worked aggressively to remove Indians through treaties and wars... In 1813, as commander of the Army of the Northwest during the War of 1812, Harrison defeated the Indians and their British allies in the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed, and the dream of a great Indian confederacy died with him.

During the next two decades, the "Farmer of North Bend" ran for various political offices... He served briefly in the state legislature, House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. During the Jacksonian era, he was forced to accept the comparatively humble office of clerk of court for Hamilton County.

Cincinnati was political headquarters for Harrison's five-year campaign for the presidency... engaging in a campaign which brought a new, carnival-like style to American politics. Although Harrison was manor-born, incumbent president Martin Van Buren's aristocratic affectations allowed Old Tippecanoe to appear the homespun candidate of the common man.

Carnival-like campaigning? An aristocrat passing himself off as the common man? Man, those must have been strange times.

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