Born in Charles County, Virginia, in 1773, Harrison served in the U.S. Army in the old Northwest Territory and in 1800 was made governor of the Indian Territory, where he proved an able administrator. In 1811, he led U.S. forces against an Indian confederation organized by Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, and victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe brought an end to Tecumseh’s hopes for a united Indian front against U.S. expansion. In the War of 1812, Harrison gained his greatest fame as a military commander, recapturing Detroit from the British and defeating a combined force of British and Native Americans at the Battle of the Thames.
In 1816, he was elected to the House of Representatives and in 1825 to the Senate. Gaining the Whig presidential nomination in 1840, he and his running mate, John Tyler, ran a successful campaign under the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.” At the inauguration of America’s first Whig president, on March 4, 1841, a bitterly cold day, Harrison declined to wear a jacket or hat, made a two-hour speech, and attended three inauguration balls. Soon afterward, he developed pneumonia. On April 4, President Harrison died in Washington, and Vice President John Tyler ascended to the presidency, becoming the first individual in U.S. history to reach the office through the death of a president.