William Henry HarrisonBalladeer’s Blog’s annual Shortest Day of the Year post features William Henry Harrison, America’s 9th President and the man whose term was the shortest – just 32 days. Then he died.

Harrison’s military and political career on the way to the White House is well known so I’ll focus on some of the less-covered aspects of his presidency.


Secretary of State – Daniel Webster, American Legend. Too well-known to need hyping. 

Secretary of the Treasury – Thomas Ewing. Foster father and, in an odd twist, eventually the father-in-law of General William Tecumseh Sherman. 

Secretary of War – John Bell. Recommended replacing civilian superintendents of federal armories with military superintendents.   

Secretary of the Navy – George E Badger. Established the U.S. Home Squadron.

Attorney General – John J Crittenden. Advised against paying interest on a claim of damage caused by then-General Andrew Jackson in 1818. This was 1841 when he finally cleared up this case which had been lingering over 20 years.  

Postmaster General – Francis Granger. Once said “When the sun does shine, white’s your wine” and meant every word of it, dammit! 

*** Harrison’s death in 1841 after being elected in 1840 kicked off the ridiculous – and thankfully now invalid – superstition that all presidents elected in a year ending in zero would die in office.

Through sheer chance of course, Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated in 1865, early in his second term.

James Garfield, elected in 1880, was assassinated in 1881.  

William McKinley, RE-elected in 1900, was assassinated in 1901.

Warren G Harding, elected in 1920, died in office of natural causes.

Franklin Roosevelt, elected one of his four times in 1940, died in office of natural causes.

John F Kennedy, elected in 1960, was assassinated in 1963.

But then Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, broke the cycle.   


Filed under Neglected History


  1. theCapn here and have I got a story for you! My great-grandfather, William Marvin Morrow married Vivienne Harrison the granddaughter of William Henry Harrison and the great-granddaughter of Benjamin Harrison!

    William Sr and Vivienne had William Marvin Morrow Jr, my granddad. He married Tommy Mae Boren (yes of the Borens one of who is President of Oklahoma University and an ex-senator).

    William Jr and Tommy Mae had Hollis Marvin Morrow, my dad. My dad met my mom, Mary Ann Hardt, at North Texas State University (now called UNT). I followed soon thereafter, Hollis Marvin Morrow Jr, aka, theCaptain!

    History lesson over! See you around the Great River Internet!

  2. Joanna

    That thing with zero years was creepy.

  3. Bernadette

    How did Reagan break the zero thing?

  4. Zellie

    That wine remark was over my head.

  5. Des

    That’s an interesting tidbit about presidents elected in zero years. It definitely qualifies for the “neglected history” category. Merry Christmas to your and yours!

  6. Arthur

    I think this guy was nuts for talking so long in a blizzard.

  7. Nona

    Really interesting! I never heard of this president before.

  8. Nora

    I love these shortest day posts you come up with!

  9. Ricky

    Lame president. Great article!

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