Wednesday, 7 November 2007

William Henry Harrison

I have mentioned the Scope Any-day-in-history site before but they are revising thre saite and this morning it seems to have disappeared for good! Quite often its American bias left me floundering as to the significance of particular events (and the relative importance of baseball!). Today's entry, 7th November, for example, used to include the following:-
1775 Lord Dunmore, promises freedom to male slaves who join British army
1805 Lewis & Clark 1st sight Pacific Ocean
1811 Battle of Tippecanoe, gave Harrison a presidential slogan

I understood the significance of the first two but where was Tippecanoe and who was Harrison? Upon investigation, it seems that William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the USA. I hadn’t heard of him but then he died in office after only a month so he didn’t have enough time to do much except make one of the longest inaugural addresses in history (a slightly ironic claim to fame in the circumstances).

Prior to his political career he was in the army and was cited for bravery whilst fighting Native Americans at the Battle of Fallen timbers in 1794. He became Governor of Indiana and was involved in the Battle of Tippecanoe which allegedly saw the defeat of the Shawnee Indians. In practice he had negotiated treaties which opened up millions of acres of Indian land for settlement and then broke the treaties by encroaching on their hunting grounds. When a confederation of Indian tribes rebelled Harrison’s force of 800 was surprised and badly mauled at Tippecanoe but he rallied them and went on to burn out a Shawnee village, claiming it was a great victory for the army.

This led to him acquiring the nickname ‘Old Tip’. Later, when running for the Presidency in 1839 the Whig Convention voted for Harrison as President and John Tyler as Vice-President. The delegates left the convention chanting ‘Tippecanoe and Tyler Too’ and this slogan was to become "one of the great slogans of American politics". They obviously didn't have marketing companies in those days!

I don’t have a voting facility on this site but if I did I would vote for this as the most boring blog entry I have done...

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