William Henry Harrison

Presidential Campaigns

A group of Whig Anti-Masons nominated Harrison for President in 1836, and in 1840, Webster went over to Harrison's candidacy for the presidency as a Whig. Clay, although bitterly disappointed, had to support Harrison. The campaign that followed was the first of the "rip-roaring" campaigns in U.S. history. Harrison and his running mate, John Tyler, were transformed by publicity. Harrison, an aristocratic Virginian, was made into a simple backwoods frontiersman, Tyler into his faithful lieutenant.

The "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign was launched in answer to ill-judged jeers from the supporters of the Democratic candidate, Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was pictured as an effete, "silver-spoon" man, Harrison as a rugged Westerner, despite his Virginia upbringing. "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" won—partly because the Panic of 1837 had turned many against Van Buren. Harrison then selected a brilliant Whig cabinet headed by Webster and adopted a program outlined by Clay, but the strain of the campaign was too much. He died a month later, Tyler became President, and the Whig party fell prey to factionalism.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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