Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

Excerpt

COLONEL BEN HARRISON, a giant in size and master of Berkeley plantation, had won his last election. For more than forty years Colonel Harrison had represented his county, colony and State, entering the Virginia House of Burgesses even before attaining the age required by law. After twenty-five years of service in the Virginia House, he had taken his place in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia where his warm, bluff personality helped smooth the way for General George Washington in the field. Later returning to Virginia politics, this "uncommonly large man," brusque and forthright in speech, resumed his seat as a Burgess, was twice elected Governor, and in 1785 was chosen Speaker of the House over his rival and neighbor John Tyler. Again successful in the ensuing elections, the Colonel was being talked of as Virginia's next Governor when a celebration of his latest triumph, followed by a painful recurrence of gout, induced him to take to his bed.

The ancestry and accomplishments of Colonel Ben Harrison are well worth recalling for as an elder statesman of Virginia's Golden Age he had always maintained himself in the front rank. The Harrison family was one of the oldest in the Colony and was highly respected; none could boast of more extensive and influential connections. Five Benjamin Harrisons in succession had gained wealth and political prominence in Virginia since the year 1632 when one Benjamin Harryson, who hailed either from England or from the Somers Isles (Bermuda), signed his name to a land document, on September 6, as clerk of the Virginia Council. Of his ancestry in England not one fact is known but this first Benjamin Harryson, or Harrison, became a man of considerable property in Virginia, acquiring land on both sides of the James River in four or five present-day counties. At the Harrison plantation of Wakefield in Surry County was born the second Benjamin, who became a sheriff, a Burgess, local justice, and a colonel of the militia. Benjamin II assisted his son-in-law, the Reverend James Blair, in founding William and Mary College and he attained a high and lucrative post as mem-

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