National Geographic : 1965 Jan
Still, people remembered Tippecanoe. Har rison was a national hero, and the Whigs needed one. Clay and Webster, their famous leaders in Congress, held well-known views that were not acceptable to all of the country. As the Whig candidate for President in the Northwest. Harrison ran well in 1836: hence, in 1839. he received the national nomination. A Democratic journalist foolishly gibed, "Give him a barrel of hard cider and settle a pension of two thousand a year on him, and my word forit,hewillsit...bythesideofa'seacoal' fire, and study moral philosophy." The Whigs, eagerly seizing upon this misstep, utilized all the new paraphernalia of politics to present their candidate as a simple, straightforward Attack by Indians shatters the dawn of November 7, 1811, beside the Tippecanoe River in Indiana Territory. Harrison, lead ing a thousand soldiers into the wilderness to smash a gathering of tribes, beats off re peated assaults, burns a village nearby, and becomes a hero. Years later, the victory swept him into the Presidency on the slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." man of the frontier, an Indian fighter living in a log cabin and drinking hard cider, in con trast to the aristocratic Van Buren, allegedly dabbing himself with cologne and sipping champagne poured from a silver cooler. One of the campaign stunts of the Whigs was to roll a huge paper ball through the coun tryside, shouting slogans like "Keep the ball rolling on to Washington." By means of such excitement, they brought out a popular vote more than double that of 1836; about 78 per cent of those eligible went to the polls. Harri son won by a majority of fewer than 150,000, but swept the Electoral College, 234 to 60. Proconsuls Killed "as Dead as Smelts" When Harrison arrived in Washington in February, 1841, he let Webster edit his In augural Address, ornate with classical allu sions. Webster succeeded in obtaining some deletions, boasting in a jolly fashion that he had killed "seventeen Roman proconsuls as dead as smelts, every one of them." Webster had reason to be gay, for Harrison emphasized in his Inaugural that he would be obedient to the will of the people as ex pressed through Congress. He said of the Constitution: "I can not con ceive that by fair construction any or either of its provisions would be found to constitute the President a part of the legislative pow er.... And it is preposterous to suppose that a thought could for a moment have been enter tained that the President, placed at the capi tal ... could better understand the wants and wishes of the people than their own immediate representatives, who spend a part of every year among them ... and [are] bound to them by the triple tie of interest, duty, and affection." Whigs in Congress were confident that the President would accept their policies; he called Congress to meet in special session on May 31. But when he had been in office only three weeks, he caught a cold that developed into pneumonia. On April 4, 1841, he died the first President to do so in office-and with him died the Whig program.