Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time

By Freeman Cleaves | Go to book overview

I
COLONEL BEN HARRISON

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. 1 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. 2 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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Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT vii
  • THE HARRISON FAMILY ix
  • Contents xi
  • Illustrations xiii
  • I- Colonel Ben Harrison 1
  • II- Student of War 9
  • III- Delegate to Congress 22
  • IV- A New Frontier 33
  • V- Two Shawnee Brothers 51
  • VI- The Treaty of Fort Wayne 61
  • VII- quickening of War 69
  • VIII- The March Up the Wabash 83
  • IX- Tippecanoe 98
  • X- Kentucky Crosses the Ohio 112
  • XI- Massacre at the River Raisin 132
  • XII- A Fort is Built 151
  • XIII- The Siege of Fort Meigs 162
  • XIV- "We Have Met the Enemy . . ." 172
  • XV- Victory in Canada 188
  • XVI- The Hero of the Thames 206
  • XVII- Harrison Resigns 216
  • XVIII- Harrison Asks Congress to Judge 229
  • XIX- Political Fortunes 243
  • XX- South American Adventure 261
  • XXI- Depression Years 276
  • XXII- Evolution of a Candidate 288
  • XXIII- Harrison versus Van Buren 301
  • XXIV- Tippecanoe and Tyler Too 314
  • XXV- Jubilation and Mourning 329
  • Notes 345
  • Bibliography 392
  • Index 403
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