OLD TIPPECANOE: WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON AND HIS TIMES
by Freeman Cleaves
ISBN 978-0-945707-01-1 $30.00
422 pages including bibliography, notes & index, fifteen pages of
illustrations and four pages of maps.
William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States, has
been sadly neglected. Freeman Cleaves, after years of scholarly study,
has cleared away the misconceptions which obscured Harrison’s fame, and gives
us a warm, human account of a truly great hero.
Harrison’s victory over the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe,
and his battle for the Presidency in 1840, with its campaign slogan of “Tippecanoe
and Tyler too,” are well known, but they are only two episodes in a colorful
He was an outstanding military hero, and a man of the people.
The frontier folk depended on him for protection against marauding Indians.
He had a hand in most of the Indian treaties and land cessions, and although
he defeated the tribes in battle he was the first to befriend them in times
of peace. Tecumseh alone, of all the Indian chiefs, held out against
him to the bitter end.
Few tales of hardship can match the story of Harrison and his
men during the War of 1812. The Great Lakes region was sparsely settled,
there were few roads, the soldiers ran out of food, their clothing was in
rags, and the winter was raging. The men grew surly and wanted to go
home. Harrison made a short speech and offered to let any man go home
who was willing to face his relatives before victory was achieved.
Not a man accepted his offer. Instead they cheered him.
Harrison was a blue-blooded Virginian, the son of a Signer, and a
descendant of a long line of illustrious patriots, but he chose to cast his
lot with the people of the newly opened West. Enlisting as a soldier
he soon rose to high command. To maintain his sumptuous table and to
provide for a large family he was obliged to engage in many business ventures,
most of which failed. An improvident son threw an added burden of debt
upon him, but he never lost courage. He accepted an appointment as Minister
to Columbia in the hope of easing his debts, but he was ill-suited for a
diplomatic joust with Simon Bolivar, and returned sadly to Cincinnati with
a bright-plumed macaw and some exotic plants for his wife Anna. When
things seemed darkest he was elected President of the United States.
Freeman Cleaves has done a careful, impartial, and worthy biography
of a great American soldier and gentleman, of the hero lovingly referred
to by his devoted followers as “Old Tippecanoe.” Every one interested
in the epic story of America will do well to read it.