April 4 – Tippecanoe (and Tyler, too)

GabeBell Ringers, Government(BR)

On April 4, 1841, President William Henry Harrison died after only 30 days in office.

Harrison served the shortest term of president, dying a month after he caught pneumonia during his inauguration, where he delivered the longest speech on record (8445 words), without a coat or hat, in the rain in an estimated temperature of 48 °F.

Harrison was a hero of the “Indian Wars,” having won the battle of Tippecanoe (near West Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University) and defeating the Indian leader Tecumseh.

Apart from being the answer to several trivia questions, Harrison’s biggest contribution came in the way he campaigned as the first Whig candidate in 1840. He used songs, slogans, and many of the other aspects of what has become modern campaigning. His military career gave him great name recognition, and his ability to counter-punch took him to the White House. Political campaigning emerged at the same time in the United Kingdom, with the rise of the Anti-Corn Law League, a political movement formed by Richard Cobden and John Bright to reduce tariffs on grain, which were keeping food prices high and harming the poor. The Anti-Corn Law League introduced political buttons, songs, and even commissioned poems about the virtues of free trade, leading to the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

  1. How important are the non-substantive aspects of political campaigns? How important should they be?
  2. How do you compare your knowledge, for instance, of the current president’s personal life and character, with your knowledge of his policy positions? Which should be more important?

Image Citation:

28, Mar. 2018, William Henry Harrison Portrait [Digital image].  Retrieved from <robinsonlibrary.com>.