As our nation’s Founders designed their plan for a more perfect union, they understood that the success of a modern republic would require more than a political document like the Constitution. From their study of history, the Founders had learned of the pitfalls of republics before this one. They concluded that even the Constitution alone could not curb individual selfishness. They believed that virtues were necessary for sustaining the American experiment. Their fervent prayers were an integral part of the birth of our nation.
New Hampshire, the 9th State Admitted to the Union, June 21, 1788
As early as August 5, 1689, the colonists of New Hampshire defined the purpose of government, saying:
Considering with ourselves the holy will of God and our own necessity, that we should not live without wholesome laws and civil government among us, of which we are altogether destitute, do, in the name of Christ and in the sight of God, combine ourselves together to erect and set up among us such governments as shall be, to our best discerning, agreeable to the will of God.
Presidential Quote of the Week
William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), 9th President of the United States
The broad foundation upon which our Constitution rests being the people …it can be assigned to none of the great divisions of government but to that of democracy. If such is its theory, those who are called upon to administer it must recognize as its leading principle the duty of shaping their measures so as to produce the greatest good to the greatest number. But with these broad admissions, if we would compare the sovereignty acknowledged to exist in the mass of our people with the power claimed by other sovereignties, even by those which have been considered most purely democratic, we shall find a most essential difference. All others lay claim to power limited only by their own will. The majority of our citizens, on the contrary, possess a sovereignty with an amount of power precisely equal to that which has been granted to them by the parties to the national compact, and nothing beyond. - Inaugural Speech, March 4, 1841
William Henry Harrison was born in February 1773 on Berkley Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, the youngest of seven children. He was the last president born as a British subject before American Independence. His father was a delegate to the Continental Congress, who signed the Declaration of Independence.
At the age of 14, Harrison entered the Presbyterian Hampden-Sydney College, where he became well-versed in Latin and basic French. He then briefly attended an academy in Southampton County before moving to Philadelphia where he began the study of medicine. Shortly thereafter, his father died leaving him without funds for further schooling.
Governor Henry Lee of Virginia learned of Harrison’s impoverished situation and persuaded Harrison to join the Army. He was first assigned to Cincinnati in the Northwest Territory where the army was engaged in the ongoing Northwest Indian War. After the war, Lieutenant Harrison was one of the signatories of the Treaty of Greenville, which opened much of present-day Ohio to settlement by European Americans.
When he retired from the army, he sought a position in the Northwest Territorial government, where he was appointed Secretary and frequently acted as governor during Governor St. Clair’s absences. He became a delegate to the U. S. Congress representing the territory, but had no authority to vote. Later President John Adams nominated him to become governor of the Indiana Territory, consisting of the future states of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and the eastern portion of Minnesota. As the head of the army of Indiana, he participated in the War of 1812.
He entered national politics after being appointed by President James Madison to serve as a commissioner to negotiate two treaties with the Indian tribes in the Northwest. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio, and also served in the Ohio State Senate. President John Quincy Adams appointed him as United States Ambassador to Columbia, but when President Jackson took office, Harrison was recalled to the States.
He spent seven years as a private citizen on his farm in North Bend, Ohio. He made an unsuccessful run for President in 1836, but was successful in a second attempt in 1840. His March 4, 1841, inaugural day was cold and wet and outdoors. He wore neither an overcoat nor a hat, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history – nearly two hours – after which he rode in an open carriage through the streets in the inaugural parade. By March 26, a cold had turned into pneumonia and pleurisy. His various attempts at cures, including opium, castor oil and leeches only made him worse, and he died on April 4, 1841, having served as President for only 30 days. He was the first president to die in office.
President Harrison was married to Anna Symmes, and together they had 10 children. Despite her own poor health, she outlived her husband by 23 years. President Harrison is buried in North Bend, Ohio.