Presidential Review, William Henry Harrison

20 Apr



Well this might be the easiest review in history.  William Henry Harrison was our shortest termed president having served 2 months before his death of pneumonia in 1841.    Also, it was almost as if God had something to do with it, because ironically Harrison has the longest inauguration speech (1 hour 45 minutes) of anybody.    He only has one real official presidential act which was allowing for an emergency session in congress because there was a financial crisis.

The thing is, he’s quite interesting.    He was elected to be more like Jackson in personality, and less like him in policy.  Specifically we’re talking about the economy, which is what was on people’s minds at the time, and not social policy.     Also, it must be noted, that Harrison ushered in an era where the candidate was more involved with the election cycle (before him it was more typical for the candidate to stay out of the limelight as parties maneuvered to get the word out.)  Ironically, the very well-to-do Harrison portrayed himself as a rough cabin-dwelling common man, who knows the good of the people, while rich ol’ Martin Van Ruin, wouldn’t know a regular person if they jumped up and said boo.  Of course this was ridiculous, but it’s politics.  The other thing that came from this election was “Tippacanoe and Tyler too” one of the most famous jingles of all time (I mean, c’mon, what other 19th century jingle can you name at all.)

The other thing Harrison did, by dying, was set a course to have the vice-president take power.  It’s obvious now, but at the time the operating procedure was not so clear, as in, would Tyler be president just until a new election could be set, or for the rest of the term (they chose the latter), and a whole number of other issues.  I’m kind of glad that Harrison died peacefully, rather than of an assassination or something, because, while regrettable, there was  nothing to keep cool heads prevailing.

Other than that, there’s very little to say for or against him.  He gave a big dense speech indicating what he would do, but whether or not he was politically savvy enough to do what he said, nobody knows.

Oh well, next week, Tyler!  The accidental president!

“To Englishmen, life is a topic, not an activity.”  William Henry Harrison

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