In 1814, Harrison resigned from the Army as a major general, and moved with his family to a farm in North Bend, Ohio. Two years later, Harrison was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio. In 1819, he became a state senator. Starting in 1825, he spent three years as a U.S. senator. He resigned his senate seat in 1828 to become U.S. minister to Colombia, a post he held for a year.
In 1836, Harrison was a Whig Party candidate for the U.S. presidency (the recently established Whigs ran three presidential candidates in different parts of the nation that year). Harrison lost the election to Democrat Martin Van Buren (1782-1862). Four years later, the Whigs nominated Harrison again, with Virginia politician John Tyler (1790-1862) as his running mate. During the campaign, a pro-Democrat newspaper mocked Harrison, then in his late 60s, for being too old to run for president, and said: “Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider, and… a pension of two thousand [dollars] a year… and… he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.”
The Whigs used this statement to mount a “log cabin campaign,” positioning Harrison, or “Old Tip,” as a symbol of the common man and promoting his image as an Indian fighter on the frontier. (His supporters used log cabin and cider barrel imagery on campaign memorabilia, including log-cabin-shaped bottles of whiskey from the E.C. Booz distillery, which led to “booze” becoming a common American term for alcohol.) Van Buren, who was unpopular with Americans for his mismanagement of the financial crisis known as the Panic of 1837, was painted by his opponents as an out-of-touch, wealthy elite. In fact, he came from humble roots while Harrison was well-educated and hailed from an established family. However, the tactics worked: Harrison won the presidency with an electoral vote of 234-60 and approximately 53 percent of the popular vote.