Ohio History Journal








One of the most notable campaigns for the presi-

dency of the United States was that of 1840, in which

Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison con-

tended for that high office. This was perhaps the most

picturesque of the presidential campaigns. The Demo-

crats were strong and confident. Harrison, the Whig

candidate, was ridiculed by them as being only a west-

ern soldier, living in a log cabin and fond of hard cider.

But his western friends saw great campaign possibilities

in this and they straightway raised the slogan "Our

log-cabin and hard-cider candidate," and went enthusi-

astically into the campaign, fighting hilariously for

"Tippecanoe and Tyler too." The young country was

stirred from east to west and from north to south by

the astonishing vote of two hundred and thirty-four in

the electoral college for Harrison, to sixty votes for Van

Buren. It is recorded that the joy of the Whigs over

this astonishing result was little short of delirium. The

interval from the election to the inauguration was one

long jollification.

As inauguration day approached, President-elect

Harrison made a long, fatiguing journey to Washing-

ton. The fourth of March was bleak and cold. Gen-

eral Harrison was sixty-eight years of age and not at



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all well. He was warned by his friends to avoid all

possible exposure, but considered this unworthy of a

soldier's hardihood. So, rejecting overcoat and gloves,

he rode on horseback for two hours in the inauguration

parade, and stood another hour in the open air reading

his inaugural address.

The new president was a kind-hearted man and he

had many friends. Visitors thronged upon him in the

White House, where he entertained them until long

after midnight. In spite of this, he would arise very

early in the morning and take long walks in the cold

March air. He was almost overwhelmed by office seek-

ers, whom he was too kind to keep within bounds.

A severe illness set in, which yielded, however, to

medical treatment. But early in April there came a

relapse. On Saturday, the third day of that month,

from one to two o'clock in the afternoon, he seemed to

be getting better. But at three o'clock his symptoms

became alarming. His family and friends, and even the

doctors, began to doubt his getting well. At six o'clock

the members of his cabinet were summoned. At eight

forty-five, Dr. Worthington was at his bedside. Har-

rison said (and it is presumed he was addressing Gov-

ernor Tyler), "Sir, I wish you to undertake the true

principles of the government. I wish them carried out.

I ask nothing more." This was the dying injunction

of the good old man, made in a strong tone of voice. At

12:27 on the morning of April fourth, he breathed his

last, and without a struggle. He had been insensible for

a long while, and his last words were to Dr. Worth-


At one o'clock, a. m., the members of the cabinet,

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Death and Funeral of President Wm. H. Harrison  607

after performing their last mournful duties, prepared a

letter to the Vice-President officially announcing the fact

of the President's death. The funeral was solemnized

on Wednesday, April seventh, at noon, according to the

usages of the Episcopal Church, in which church Presi-

dent Harrison usually worshipped.

At 11:30 the Reverend Mr. Hawley, rector of St.

John's Church, arose and said that the Bible (covered

with black silk) which lay on the table before him was

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purchased by the President on the fifth of March, and

that he read it daily. He attended church, kneeled for

prayer and joined audibly in the service. He said that

had the President lived and been in good health he would

have attended Holy Communion on the following Sun-


At twelve o'clock, musicians who had been marched

up in front of the portico of the White House played

the Portuguese Hymn, during which the body was

moved and placed on the car which was out in front.

This was drawn by six white horses. The coffin was

covered with rich velvet. The procession was two full

miles in length, and was marshalled on its way by offi-

cers on horseback carrying white batons with black

tassels. The utmost order prevailed throughout. After

the funeral service the casket was taken to the Congres-

sional Burying-Ground and placed in the receiving


Washington was draped with black crape, even to

door-knobs and knockers.  Across the casket were

placed two swords, and a scroll of the constitution with

a wreath around it. People came to the city from miles

around and it seemed as though more was made of the

funeral than of the inauguration.

The Daily Gazette published the sad news to the

people of Cincinnati on Friday morning, April 9, 1841,

thus: "General William Henry Harrison died at the

President's House in Washington on the fourth day of

April, 1841, at thirty-three minutes before one o'clock

in the morning." This was prior to the days of the

electric telegraph, the first use of which, by the way,

was to announce in Washington the nomination in Bal-

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Death and Funeral of President Wm. H. Harrison   609


timore of James K. Polk, in 1844. The Gazette also

carried this notice:

Old Soldiers, Attention! The officers and soldiers now in

this city and vicinity, who served under General Harrison in the

last war, are requested to meet at the Henrie House this day at

ten o'clock, a. m., to adopt suitable measures relative to the

recent afflicting dispensation of Providence, by which their be-

loved Old Commander has been removed by death.

The next day the Gazette printed the following:

Yesterday most of our stores were closed--the arm of labor

rested--bells tolled at intervals throughout the day--minute guns

were fired--our public schools were dismissed--and our city was

given up to an expression, felt keenly and openly indulged, of

profoundest sorrow.

All classes partake in this feeling, yet all bow submissively

to the inscrutable dispensation of Him who chastens whom He


In the issue of April 26 appeared this:

It has been suggested that the day set apart by the President

as a day of humiliation and prayer, on account of the national

bereavement, would be the most suitable day for appropriate

funeral honors in this city, and we have been requested to call

the attention of the committee to the subject, and to that day,

the 14th of May, 1841.

On May 14 this announcement was made:

The eulogium on the character and services of our lamented

and illustrious fellow-citizen, the late President of the United

States, will be delivered at the Wesleyan Chapel on Fifth Street.

The order of the exercise will be as follows:

1. Solemn music by the Eclectic Academy, to commence at

seven, and continue at intervals until seven and one-half o'clock,

p. m.

2. Prayer, to commence at seven and one-half o'clock pre-


3. Solemn music, to continue five minutes.

4. The eulogium, by E. D. Mansfield, Esq.

5. Solemn music, to continue five minutes.

6. The benediction.

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The clergy of all denominations; the Mayor, Council and

city authorities; all officers of the United States, and the State

of Ohio; the citizens generally and such strangers as may be

sojourning here, are respectfully invited to attend.

Seats will be reserved for the Clergy and the guests who

were invited by special invitations, who will be admitted by the

private entrance at the side of the chapel.

The services will commence at half past seven o'clock pre-

cisely, previous to which those who may desire to be present on

this interesting occasion are earnestly requested to attend, so that

as little interruption as possible may occur during the solemn

exercises of the evening.

The committee will be in attendance to aid in accommodating

as many as possible with seats.

JAMES HALL, Chairman.

The committee and detachment of United States

Marines arrived at the wharf in Cincinnati with the

remains of the late President about three o'clock on

the morning of July 5. About eight, the body was con-

veyed to the residence of Colonel W. H. H. Taylor, fol-

lowed by the committee and a number of old and emi-

nent friends of the deceased. The funeral at Cincin-

nati was on Wednesday morning, July 7, 1841. The

boat left Cincinnati for North Bend at about one o'clock

that afternoon.

The hearse which bore the body from the residence

of Colonel Taylor to the steamboat that conveyed it to

North Bend was preceded by the company of dragoons,

and the several military companies which arrived from

the Louisville encampment in time to join in the pro-


The procession moved to solemn music from the

residence of Colonel Taylor on Sixth street west to Race

street, thence south to Fourth, thence east to Broadway,

thence down Broadway to the wharf at the south end

of Main street.

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Death and Funeral of President Wm. H. Harrison  611

The steamer Raritan left the wharf for the Bend

about one o'clock, carrying with the remains the com-

mittees, the detachment of United States Marines, and

relatives of the deceased. By special invitation, the

Reverend John T. Brooke went down to perform the

funeral service of the Church of England at the tomb.

The family of Harrison wished the entombment to

be private and with as little ostentation as possible. But

people from miles and miles around came to Mt. Nebo

to the burial. This was to be regretted, but it showed

the feeling of the people for the President. The Rari-

tan landed about a mile above the Harrison dwelling,

where the remains of General Harrison were taken

ashore. The relatives and committees formed in pro-

cession after them. As they wound slowly and sol-

emnly toward the tomb, many others who were assem-

bled fell into the line. Others, more anxious to get a

look at the coffin which incased the body of the late

president, took position ahead, where it was known the

funeral train would pass, and thus skirted the entire


The casket was transferred from the steamer to a

hearse, and the funeral procession passed through the

principal streets, preceded and followed by bands of

musicians rendering funeral dirges, which contributed

to make the occasion still more sorrowful. It was a

dismal, rainy day, and for the time being the sun re-

fused to shine. All nature seemed to assume a somber

hue; the sky was fringed in its darkest drapery. Every-

thing visible in creation gave signs of general sorrow.

At the tomb a prayer was offered by the Reverend

Joshua L. Wilson, of the First Presbyterian Church of

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Cincinnati, and the burial service of the Episcopal

Church was read by the Reverend John T. Brooke of

Christ Church.

The tomb of General Harrison is on an elevated

knoll of rare beauty, some three hundred yards from

the Ohio River, and about the same distance from the

log cabin about which so much was said and sung in

the campaign of 1840. Within a very few weeks after

the President's demise his cabin home was burned, in-

volving the irreparable loss of his numerous papers, the

possession of which would be of great value to the his-

torian. But the house was rebuilt, and the premises

have been a shrine of patriotism for years.

The limestone tomb that enclosed the remains of the

illustrious dead was neglected for many years, and be-

came dilapidated. But public-spirited citizens have now

erected a suitable memorial in its place. A stately mon-

ument, sixty feet high, and worthily inscribed, crowns

Mt. Nebo, and is visible for many miles. The grounds

have been beautified as a public park, which is much

frequented by visitors. Just below the monument the

majestic river rolls toward the Mississippi, and many

miles of the great Bend are in full view. Across it are

the fair hills of Kentucky, and all around, the lovely

landscape of Ohio. Those who visit this charming spot

are stirred not only by its beauty and solemnity, but by

the thought that the spot where President Harrison

sleeps is the one he loved best in his mortal life.