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PRESIDENT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 07/14/1840 - HFSID 288294

 

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WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON
As the Whig Party candidate for President, Harrison devotes 3 pages to defending his conduct at the Battle of the Thames (War of 1812). He is so anxious to vindicate his military record that he is traveling to Cincinnati to have copies of depositions made and published! Harrison's signature is rare, especially so close to the date of his brief Presidency!
Autograph Letter signed: "W. H. Harrison", 3 pages with integral address leaf, 7¼x12½. North Bend (Ohio), 1840 February 14. To Moses B. Corwin, House of Representatives of Ohio. In full: "Your letter of the 10th was brought to me yesterday from Cincinnati. I had seen an article in the journal that Flood was charged with having written in his place, an assertion that I was not in the sortie of the Thames. I immediately addressed a note to him which I enclosed to General [Joseph] Vance demanding to know whether he had made such an assertion and the ground upon which it was made. In answer to my letter to him, the general expressed an opinion that I gave too much importance to the matter and declined delivering my note to Flood until he would hear from me again. By the late mail, I wrote to him to destroy my note to Flood. Your letter gives a new aspect to the affair and I enclose another note to Flood which I will thank you to deliver to Genl. V & ask him to deliver it ask for an immediate and explicit reply particularly as to the ground that the accusation was made. I think that it is absolutely necessary to probe this matter to the bottom and it shall be done. If we were passed over when the charge was made and in such a place as the House of Representatives of Ohio it would be referred to everywhere as conclusive evidence of its truth. Are you aware that 'McAffees history of the late war', published in Kentucky directly after the war for which you have no doubt known was written by one of [General Washington] Johnston's Captains who was present in the battle? That he has ever been an administration man. Lt. Gov. of Ky & Minister to Columbia appointed by Genl. Jackson? Another history has been written in Kentucky by [Edward] Mann Butler of Louisville when he treats of the battle in the same way with McAffee. But to the particular object of your letter, there are four distinguished men now alive who were by my side during the whole of the battle & who knew everything that I saw or did from the commencement to the end of the action. They are 1st Col. Charles Todd who resides near Shelbyville KY. He was during the campaign acting inspector Genl of the Army. 2nd Genl John O'Fallon of St. Louis he as my first aide de camp then later was a captain in the regular army & highly distinguished. 3dly Honbl. John Chambers of Washington Kentucky Many years a Member of Congress & 4th John Speed Smith many years a Member of the Congress & Speaker of the H of R of Ky. The two had joined me as Volunteers, and I appointed them Volunteer Aides de Camp. All of them are opposition men but Smith. He has always heretofore been of the Administration and I understand that he was to become their candidate for Gov. ... [They are of such] high standing that no man will ever impugn their testimony. Smith will be as decided as any of them. They were [illegible phrase] by Dawson at Cincinnati when he was writing his work. They answered his questions I think in the shape of Depositions. They are to be found at the end of Dawson's work, but as you may not have it at Columbus I shall go to Cincinnati today and will cause them to be copied and sent to Athens to be immediately published. I beg you in the meantime to write to each of the above men any questions you think necessary to ask. [phrase illegible] Ask if Col. Johnston had any other hand in it than that of leading his own Regt., as other Cols. did theirs. [phrase illegible] the Army was not a combination of the new European tactics with those accepted by General Wayne. When on the day of the Action not a man in the Army but understood what I had taught. What was my audience and where was I through the action and together Capt. Perry did one or two [last 2 lines on page illegible] myself in the manner I did. Col. Johnston led his Regt. as I directed him as well as any man could but he could no more have [led the whole army] at this time than you who I think to have been a child at the time. In sum he did not know what the plan was. How could I [?] to him as it was to the General Officers. & I am certain that he was not acquainted with the manner in which the troops were drawn up with the exception of his own Regt., until he saw my letter to the Secy. of War many weeks after the event. [signature] P.S. Show this letter to Gen. Vance that he may know the grounds upon which communication is based. You may rely upon the facts stated as having been supported by ample and impartial testimony." William Henry Harrison (1773-1841), the ninth US President, was also the last born before the Declaration of Independence, and the shortest survivor in office. Harrison had a respectable political resume as a US Representative (1816-1819), US Senator (1825-1828), Ambassador to Columbia (1828-1829), and territorial governor of the Northwest Territory, of Louisiana, and of Indiana, successively. However his successful Presidential campaign of 1840 - his second bid for the office - was based more on his military record, particularly his victory over an American Indian coalition at the Battle of Tippecanoe (1811) and against the British and Indian force in the Battle of the Thames, War of 1812. His prospects benefited from both the unpopularity of President Van Buren, and his Whig Party's image-oriented campaign for "Tippecanoe and Tyler too," falsely championing the wealthy Harrison as the "log cabin and hard cider" candidate. Without his war record, however, Harrison would have lost much of his claim to leadership, so his quick and active response in this letter to any questioning of his military record was essential. Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address in history on a bitterly cold March day, caught pneumonia, and died one month later (April 4, 1841). This elevated to the Presidency John Tyler, who opposed most of Harrison's Whig policies. Heavily toned and creased. Edges frayed with multiple notches. Multiple mailing folds. Corners and edges worn and creased. Multiple soiled spots throughout letter. Torn at lower right edge on page 3. Seal at center right edge page 3. Top edge heavily frayed. Mounting residue on verso. Sticker at top right corner.



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PRESIDENT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON  


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PRESIDENT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON
Born: February 9, 1773 in Charles City County, Virginia
Died: April 4, 1841 in Washington, District of Columbia





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