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100 Years Ago

Black History
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General William Henry Harrison (1773-1841)

The ninth president of the United States was the son of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, twenty third president of the U.S. Harrison joined the army in Philadelphia,during the first presidency of George Washington, when troops were being raised to go to the western frontier in Ohio after the defeat of General St. Clair in 1791.

At the age of 19 he was made an aide-de-camp to General Anthony Wayne and served with him through his successful campaign against the Shawnee and other Indians. He was involved in the Greene Ville Treaty peace negotiations and signed the document, along with others, on August 3, 1795.

President Thomas Jefferson appointed him the first governor of the newly-created territory of Indiana. He was in this position when his forces defeated the Shawnee at the Battle of Tippecanoe, an action that captured the attention and respect of America. In the War of 1812, he was promoted to the rank of major general, and in September 1813, at the Battle of the Thames River in Canada, he routed a Shawnee coalition that resulted in the death of the famous Shawnee leader, Tecumseh. For many months during the War of 1812, Piqua served as his headquarters, and Col. John Johnston, Indian agent, entertained and lodged Harrison and his staff on several occasions.

Johnston also was his host when he visited Piqua and Sidney during his successful presidential campaign in 1839 and 1840. Harrison, and his vice presidential running mate John Tyler, waged a brilliant campaign for the presidency. It was the first political campaign to feature mass meetings and parades. His successes in war and as a politician and statesman contributed to his election victory. Harrison (known affectionately as ‘Old Tip’), had numerous campaign slogans, with the most famous being, ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler too,’ a reference to his victory over the Shawnee in 1811, and the caliber of his running mate. Thirty one days after his inauguration he died from pneumonia; becoming the first president to die in office.

'Indian' segment written in December, 1997 by David Lodge


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