Nickname: Old Tippecanoe

Year in office: 1841

Political party: Whig

Birthday: February 9, 1773

Official presidential portrait of William Henry Harrison

by James Reid Lambdin, 1835

The People’s Choice in the Year 1840, 1840 (Ralph E. Becker Collection of Political Americana, Smithsonian Open Access)

When the Democrats tried to insult William Henry Harrison by calling him a hard cider drinking, log cabin dweller, Harrison’s campaign latched on to the imagery. Compared to the seemingly aristocratic Martin Van Buren, Americans could better relate to the “simple” Harrison. Of course, as often happens, the comparison was not quite accurate. Harrison was actually from a wealthy Virginia family.

Martin Van Buren used his close ties to Andrew Jackson to secure the Democratic nomination in 1836. The Whigs, a party created in opposition to Jackson, ran four regional candidates.  Even though the vote was split, Van Buren still received the majority of electoral votes needed to win the presidency.

William Henry Harrison, the hero of the Battle of Tippecanoe, defeated the incumbent Martin Van Buren in 1840. The Whigs capitalized on the Panic of 1837 to propel Harrison into office.  Referred to as the first modern presidential campaign, Harrison was portrayed by Democrats as a hard cider drinker who lived in a log cabin.  Harrison, actually from a wealthy Virginia family, benefitted from this image, and Old Tippecanoe was elected.


Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, VA


Grouseland, Vincennes, IN


West Lafayette, IN


North Bend, OH


Davis, Kenneth C., and Pedro Martin. Don’t Know Much about the Presidents. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

DeGregorio, William A., and Aaron Jaffe. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc., 2017.

Kane, Joseph Nathan, and Janet Podell. Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2009.


Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com

Library of Congress, loc.gov

Miller Center, University of Virginia, millercenter.org/the-presidency

The White House, whitehouse.gov

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