In the News


Death in the White House - William Henry Harrison

WHHcolormemWilliam Henry Harrison
9th President 1841

William Henry Harrison gave the longest Inaugural speech lasting 1 hour and 45 minutes on March 4, 1841. After being outside most of the day in a snow and rain storm, he caught a cold that then developed into pneumonia. He died in the White House on April 4, 1841, giving him the shortest term of any president. The attending physicians reported that on Saturday, March 27, 1841, President Harrison was seized with a chill and other symptoms of fever. The next day it was determined that he had pneumonia, with "congestion of the liver and derangement of the stomach and bowels." The physicians then performed a blood-letting. Their remedies aided in the relief of the congestion in the lungs, but the "stomach and intestines did not regain a healthy condition." The physicians then reported:

"Finally, on the 3rd of April, at 3 o'clock P. M., profuse diarrhoea came on, under which he sank, at thirty minutes to 1 o'clock, on the morning of the fourth."

Dr. Worthington reported in The Madison, Washington City newspaper, that the last words uttered by the President were:

"Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the Government, I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."

WHH death bed webPresident William Henry Harrison's funeral cost the United States $3,088.09. A detailed list of the funeral expenses was printed August 16, 1841, and referred to the Committee of Ways and Means at the request of Daniel Webster. The Department of State agreed to pay the necessary expenses; then requested that "Upon consideration..., it is thought proper that you should lay an account of the expenses of the funeral..., as there is no existing appropriation out of which they can properly be paid." Included on the account are: mahogany coffin of double thickness $75, lead coffin of double thickness $90, walnut coffin $35, outside case for coffins and lettering $20, and shaving and dressing deceased $20. Much of the expense was for black silk, black crape, silk velvet, and ribbon used for hanging at the "President's House" (The White House), for the funeral procession and outfitting the attendants.

Funeral Procession
The National Intelligencer, a Washington newspaper reported on the funeral services and procession. The funeral car containing the body of the deceased President was described as large in all dimensions, shaped in an oblong platform on which was a raised dais covered in black velvet. From the cornice of the platform fell a black velvet curtain outside of the wheels to within a few inches of the ground. From the corners of the car a black crape festoon was formed on all sides, looped in the center by a funeral wreath. On the coffin lay the Sword of Justice and the Sword of State, surmounted by the scroll of the Constitution, bound together by a funeral wreath formed of the yew and the cypress. The funeral car was drawn by six white horses. The paper stated that, "The entire Procession occupied two full miles in length, and was marshaled on its way by officers on horseback carrying white batons with black tassels. The utmost order prevailed throughout; and, considering the very great concourse of people collected, the silence preserved during the whole course of the march was very impressive."

Members of the Harrison family in attendance as reported by the National Intelligencer were: Mrs. Jane Harrison of Ohio daughter-in-law, Mrs. Taylor of Virginia niece, Pike Harrison grandson, Mr. Coupeland of Ohio nephew, Mr. Benjamin Harrison of Virginia nephew, Henry Harrison of Virginia grand-nephew and confidential secretary of the President, Dr. Minge of Virginia nephew, and Mrs. Findley of Ohio mother of Jane Harrison. Those absent all of North Bend, Ohio, were: Mrs. Anna Symmes WHH mem cloth image walkerHarrison wife, John Scott Harrison son, and three daughters Mrs. Short, Mrs. Thornton, and Mrs. Taylor. A daughter and five sons preceded the President in death.

Harrison's body was placed first at the Congressional Burying Grounds in Washington D.C. and then moved to his final resting place in North Bend, Ohio. The body was attended by the son of the deceased, John Scott Harrison, and by a committee of gentlemen from Cincinnati to whom were assigned the pious duty of accompanying the remains to North Bend. President Tyler, with the Heads of Departments, the committee of the two Houses of Congress, and a large number of citizens, attended a ceremony held on June 28, 1841, to offer the last testimony of respect to the earthly remains of the lamented Chief before removal to North Bend. The party departed to face the ordeal of traveling by canal boat, rail, and cable-wound inclined planes across Pennsylvania to the Ohio River and to North Bend.

“An American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart.” ~ Benjamin Harrison

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