William Henry Harrison

 By Preston Hart, Talon staff writer

William Henry Harrison was the 9th president of the United States. He was an American military officer and a politician, and the first president to die while still in office. He was the oldest president, until Ronald Reagan went into office. William was 68 years, and 23 days old. William died on his 32 day in office of pneumonia. According to Wikipedia, Harrison served as a general in the War of 1812 .”His most notable action was in the Battle of the Thames in 1813, which brought an end to hostilities in his region. This battle resulted in the death of Tecumseh and the dissolution of the Indian coalition which he led.”

   William Henry Harrison was born February 9, 1773, the youngest of Benjamin Harrison V and Elizabeth (Bassett)’s seven children. They were a politically oriented family who lived on Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia. His father was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The oldest Harrison was governor of Virginia between 1781 and 1784, during and after the American Revolutionary War.  In 1787, at the age of 14, Harrison entered the Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College. He attended the school until 1790, becoming fluent in Latin and basic French. He was removed by his father, possibly because of a religious revival occurring at the school. He briefly attended a boys academy in Southampton County.

   He then transferred to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for medical training, where Benjamin boarded with Robert Morris. The young Harrison entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1790, where he studied medicine under Dr. Benjamin Rush. As Harrison later told his biographer, he did not enjoy the subject. Shortly after Harrison started these studies, his father died in 1791, leaving him without funds for further schooling.

   He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day. He wore neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and delivered the longest inaugural  address in American history. At 8,445 words, it took him nearly two hours to read. Harrison then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade, and that evening attended three inaugural balls.

  On March 26, Harrison became ill with a cold. It is likely he was a victim of the common cold virus. Harrison’s doctors tried cures, applying opium, castor oil, and Virginia snakeweed. However, the treatments only made Harrison worse, and he became delirious. He died nine days after becoming ill, at 12:30 a.m. on April 4, 1841, of right lower lobe pneumonia, jaundice, and overwhelming septicemia; he became the first American president to die in office. That is the story of William Henry Harrison, the 9th president of the United States.