William Henry Harrison
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
North Bend, Ohio
August 19, 2004 13th Visited

General William Henry Harrison,
who had the shortest tenure of
any U.S. president, is entombed
in a monument that overlooks
the Ohio River in North Bend,
fifteen miles from Cincinnati.

Other interments in the tomb include First
Lady Anna Harrison 
and son John Scott
Harrison. John Scott was a congressman
and the father of Benjamin Harrison,
the 23rd president. Benjamin and his
namesake, his great-grandfather who
signed the Declaration of Independence,
are buried in Indiana and Virginia,

Harrison wished to be laid to rest
on Mount Nebo, which was once
part of his estate. All but the six
acres that encompass the tomb
were sold in 1871. The sixty foot
shaft of Bedford limestone, which
has "Old Tip's" extensive résumé
carved into it, was added in 1924.

Internet research indicated that the gate to
the Harrison Tomb State Memorial was
typically locked. In advance of our trip, my
father contacted Beverly Meyers, president
of the Harrison-Symmes Memorial
Foundation. She and her husband, Terry,
let me personally unlock the tomb. They
also bestowed me with literature about its
construction and 1997 rededication.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison
- Spouse: Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison (m. 1795-1841)

- Political Party: Whig Party

- Term: 1841
- Vice President: John Tyler

- Born: February 9, 1773

- Died: April 4, 1841

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Pneumonia

- Last Words: "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."

Cemetery: Harrison Tomb State Memorial, North Bend, Ohio
- GPS Coordinates: 39°09'02.8"N 84°45'03.7"W

* * * Background on William Henry Harrison * * *

* As governor of Indiana Territory, Harrison, an ardent expansionist, met with native tribes throughout the Ohio River Valley and arranged treaties that placed their land under U.S. control. Shawnee leader Tecumseh held out and visited Harrison’s home in Vincennes in August 1810. Accompanied by upwards of sixty warriors, Tecumseh denounced white settlers for forcing tribes further and further west. The following year, when Tecumseh was away in the South seeking allies to stand up to the U.S., Harrison marched an army to the chief's home base, Prophetstown. On the morning of November 7th, the natives struck first and attacked Harrison’s encampment along the Tippecanoe River. The Americans suffered numerous casualties at the start, but soon managed to mount a defense. As Harrison commanded from the front lines, his troops repelled each successive attack before their own offensive scattered their opponents. The army proceeded to burn Prophetstown to the ground and desecrate native burial sites. The soldiers discovered British firearms in town, which riled up the “War Hawk” faction of the Democratic-Republican Party. President James Madison listed instigation of northwestern natives as a grievance against Great Britain in his June 1812 declaration of war request.

* Harrison was the Whig Party nominee for president in 1840, and was victorious as the head of what was by some measures the first modern presidential campaign. Harrison had run for president in 1836 but split the vote with other Whig candidates, which sent Vice President Martin Van Buren to the White House. The next go around, the Whigs held a national convention to unify under a single nominee. They chose Harrison, who bucked the trend of passive acceptance and instead actively sought the presidency. The general delivered speeches in which he denounced the Democratic Party's approach to government and vowed to refrain from vetoing almost entirely in an attempt to reduce executive power. When a derogatory editorial falsely painted Harrison as an old soldier swigging hard cider in an isolated cabin, Whigs turned the story around and launched the Log Cabin and Hard Cider Campaign. Although Harrison was born in a Virginia mansion, he was presented as an everyman who liked to drink common alcohol, whereas Van Buren was portrayed as a stuffy, out-of-touch aristocrat. At campaign stops, the Harrison team stocked replica log cabins with hard cider. They wrote campaign songs and reminded the public of the general's military feats with the first campaign slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too!" A record 80.2% of eligible voters came out on election day, and Harrison and his running mate, former Senator John Tyler, emerged on top.

* During the 1840 campaign, apart from his political beliefs and manufactured everyman persona, Harrison was often targeted for his age. On March 4, 1841, the sixty-eight-year-old became the oldest president to take the oath of office, a record that would stand for 140 years. In a likely attempt to give off an air of youth and vitality, Harrison delivered an 8,444 word inauguration address that took nearly two hours to finish. The new president’s stamina may have impressed, but his lengthy exposure to the frigid Washington temperatures without the benefit of a hat or coat assuredly lowered his immune system. This did him no favors later in March when he was caught in a storm, after which he developed a cold. It was assessed that his illness transformed into pneumonia, and physicians treated the bedridden leader with heated suction cups and bloodletting implements. His condition only worsened. Early in the morning on April 4th, exactly a month after his swearing-in ceremony, Harrison passed away at the White House. It has been posited that “Old Tippecanoe” might have actually died of typhoid fever contracted from a contaminated water supply, but two aspects of the ninth president’s death are incontestable: he was the first chief executive to die in office, and he held that post for the shortest amount of time. His lone decision of substance as president was to call a special session of Congress to address government funding, a meeting he did not live to see.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

Bluhm, Raymond K. "Battle of Tippecanoe." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed April 2, 2019.  https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Tippecanoe.

CBS Sunday Morning. "William Henry Harrison: America's briefest President." YouTube video, 3:26. Posted [May 2016]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Glk1rbbtj-g.

Cunningham, Lillian. "The White House killed William Henry Harrison." Washington Post, March 6, 2016.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2016/03/06/the-white-house-killed-william- henry-harrison/?utm_term=.bc11a68f1ca0.

Dreyer, George C. Wm. Henry Harrison, Ninth President of the United States: Tomb Rededication. Cleves, OH: Harrison-Symmes Memorial Foundation, 1997.

Freehling, William. "William Harrison: Death of the President." Miller Center. Accessed April 2, 2019. https://millercenter.org/president/harrison/death-of-the-president.

Harrison Tomb State Memorial. Columbus: Ohio Historical Society, 2001.

Kruman, Marc W. "William Henry Harrison." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 124-30. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

The War of 1812. Directed by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey. Walpole, NH: Florentine Films, 2011.

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