Messages and Papers of William Henry Harrison

Author: William Henry Harrison

Messages and Papers of

March 4 to April 4, 1841

William Henry Harrison, third and youngest son of Benjamin Harrison, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, was born at Berkeley, Charles City County, Va., February 9, 1773. Was educated at Hampden Sidney College, Virginia, and began the study of medicine, but before he had finished it accounts of Indian outrages on the western frontier led him to enter the Army, and he was commissioned an ensign in the First Infantry on August 16, 1791; joined his regiment at Fort Washington, Ohio. Was appointed lieutenant June 2, 1792, and afterwards joined the Army under General Anthony Wayne, and was made aid-de-camp to the commanding officer. For his services in the expedition, in December, 1793, that erected Fort Recovery he was thanked by name in general orders. Participated in the engagements with the Indians that began on June 30, 1794, and was complimented by General Wayne for gallantry in the victory on the Miami on August 20. On May 15, 1797, was made captain and given the command of Fort Washington. While there he married Anna, daughter of John Cleves Symmes. Resigned his commission on June 1, 1798, peace having been made with the Indians, and was immediately appointed by President John Adams secretary of the Northwest Territory, but in October, 1799, resigned to take his seat as Territorial Delegate in Congress. During his term part of the Northwest Territory was formed into the Territory of Indiana, including the present States of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and he was appointed its governor and superintendent of Indian affairs, which he accepted, and resigned his seat in Congress. Was reappointed successively by Presidents Jefferson and Madison. He organized the legislature at Vincennes in 1805. Held frequent councils with the Indians, and succeeded in averting many outbreaks. On September 30, 1809, concluded a treaty with several tribes by which they sold to the United States about 3,000,000 acres of land on the Wabash and White rivers. This and former treaties were condemned by Tecumseh and other chiefs, and an outbreak became imminent, which was averted by the conciliatory course of the governor. In the spring of 1811 Indian depredations became frequent, and Governor Harrisonrecommended the establishment of a military post at Tippecanoe, and the Government consented. On September 26 Harrison marched from Vincennes with about 900 men, including 350 regular infantry, completed Fort Harrison, near the site of Terre Haute, Ind,, on October 28, and leaving a garrison there pressed on toward Tippecanoe. On November 6, when near that town, was met by messengers demanding a parley, and a council was proposed for the next day. At 4 o’clock the following morning a fierce attack was made by the savages; at daybreak the Indians were driven from the field. For this victory he was highly complimented by President Madison in his message of December 18, 1811, and was also thanked by the legislatures of Kentucky and Indiana. On August 25, 1812, soon after war was declared against Great Britain, was commissioned major-general of the militia of Kentucky, though not a citizen of that State. On August 22, 1812, was commissioned a brigadier-general in the Regular Army, and later was appointed to the chief command of the Northwestern army, with instructions to act in all cases according to his own discretion and judgment. No latitude as great as this had been given to any commander since Washington. On March 2, 1813, was commissioned a major-general. Was in command of Fort Meigs when General Proctor, with a force of British troops and Indians, laid unsuccessful siege to it from April 28 to May 9, 1813. Transporting his army to Canada, he fought the battle of the Thames on October 5, defeating General Proctor’s army of 800 regulars and 1,200 Indians, the latter led by the celebrated Tecumseh, who was killed. This battle, together with Perry’s victory on Lake Erie, gave the United States possession of the chain of lakes above Erie and put an end to the war in uppermost Canada. For this victory he was praised by President Madison in his annual message to Congress and by the legislatures of the different States. Through a misunderstanding with General John Armstrong, Secretary of War, he resigned his commission in the Army May 31, 1814. In 1814, and again in 1815, he was appointed on commissions that concluded Indian treaties, and in 1816 was chosen to Congress to fill a vacancy, serving till 1819. On March 30, 1818, Congress unanimously voted him a gold medal for his victory of the Thames. In 1819 he was chosen to the senate of Ohio, and in 1822 was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. In 1824 was a Presidential elector, voting for Henry Clay, and in the same year was sent to the United States Senate, and succeeded Andrew Jackson as chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. He resigned in 1828, having been appointed by President John Quincy Adams minister to the United States of Colombia. He was recalled at the outset of Jackson’s Administration, and retired to his farm at North Bend, near Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1835 was nominated for the Presidency by Whig State conventions in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and other States, but at the election on November 8, 1836, was defeated by Martin Van Buren, receivingonly 73 electoral votes to the latter’s 170. December 4, 1839, he was nominated for the Presidency by the national Whig convention at Harrisburg, Pa., and was elected on November 10, 1840, receiving 234 electoral votes to Van Buren’s 60. Was inaugurated March 4, 1841. Called Congress to meet in extra session on May 31. He died on Sunday morning, April 4, 1841. His body was interred in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, but in June, 1841, it was removed to North Bend and placed in a tomb overlooking the Ohio River.


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Chicago: William Henry Harrison, "Title Page," Messages and Papers of William Henry Harrison in 1859–1860. Original Sources, accessed May 19, 2024,

MLA: Harrison, William Henry. "Title Page." Messages and Papers of William Henry Harrison, in , pp. 1859–1860. Original Sources. 19 May. 2024.

Harvard: Harrison, WH, 'Title Page' in Messages and Papers of William Henry Harrison. cited in , , pp.1859–1860. Original Sources, retrieved 19 May 2024, from