A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part VII, Chapter 74." by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-)
From: This country of ours; the story of the United States by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (1876-) New York, George H. Doran company, 1917.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


CHAPTER 74
HARRISON–THE HEROE OF TIPPECANOE

PEOPLE had grown to dislike Van Buren so much that he had no chance of being elected a second time, and the next President was General Harrison. Never before or since perhaps has there been so much excitement over the election of a President. For Van Buren's friends tried very hard to have him re-elected, and Harrison's friends worked just as hard on his behalf.

 

Harrison was the general who had led his men to victory at Tippecanoe, and he immediately became first favourite with the people. He was an old man now of nearly seventy, and since he had left the army had been living quietly on his farm in the country.

The Hero of Tippecanoe becomes President, 1841

So one of Van Buren's friends said scornfully that Harrison was much more fit to live in a log cabin and drink hard cider than live in the White House and be President.

 

It was meant as a sneer, but Harrison's good friends took it up. Log Cabin and Hard Cider became their war-cry, and the election was known as the Log Cabin and Hard Cider campaign. And soon many simple country people came to believe that Harrison really lived in a log cabin, and that he was poor, and had to work for his living even as an old man.

Log Cabin and Hard Cider

All sorts of songs were made and sung about this gallant old farmer.

"Oh, know ye the farmer of Tippecanoe?
The gallant old farmer of Tippecanoe?
With an arm that is strong and a heart that is true,
The man of the people is Tippecanoe."

 

That is the beginning of one song and there were dozens more like it.

 

And while the old farmer of Tippecanoe was said to be everything that was good and honest and lovable, Van Buren on the other hand was represented as being a bloated aristocrat, who sat in chairs that cost six hundred dollars, ate off silver plates with golden forks and spoons, and drove about in an English coach with a haughty smile on his face.

 

It was a time of terrible excitement, and each side gave the other many hard knocks. But in the end Harrison was elected by two hundred and thirty-four electoral votes to Van Buren's sixty. As Vice-President John Tyler was chosen. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" had been one of the election cries.

"Tippecanoe and Tyler too"

Inauguration day was bleak and cold, rain threatened and a chill wind blew. But in spite of unkind weather Harrison's friends arranged a grand parade. And mounted on a white horse the new President rode for two hours through the streets. Then for another hour he stood in the chill wind reading his address to the people.

 

All the time he wore no overcoat. Because, it is said, rumours were spread abroad that he was not strong, and he wanted to show that he was. When the long ceremony was at length over he was thoroughly chilled, but no serious illness followed.

 

It was soon seen, however, that he could not bear the strain of his great office. He had never been strong. Of late years he had been used to a quiet country life, seeing few people and taking things easily.

 

Now from morning till night he lived in a whirl. He was besieged with people who wanted posts. For the spoils system being once begun, every President was almost forced to continue it. And never before had any President been beset by such a buzzing crowd.

 

Harrison was a kindly old man, and he would gladly have given offices to all who asked. It grieved him that he could not. But he was honest, too, and he tried to be just in making these new appointments. So his days were full of worry and anxious thought. Soon under the heavy burden he fell ill. And just a month after his inauguration he died.

The President dies, 1841

Never before had a President died in office, and it was a shock to the whole people. Every one grieved, for even those who had been his political enemies and worked hard to prevent his election loved the good old man. Death stilled every whisper of anger against him, and, united in sorrow, the whole nation mourned his loss and followed him reverently to the grave.

 

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

This book has been put on-line as part of the BUILD-A-BOOK Initiative at the
Celebration of Women Writers.
Initial text entry and proof-reading of this book were the work of volunteers at
Ambleside Online.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom