Samuel J. (Samuel John) Bayard.

A short history of the life and services of Gen. William Henry Harrison online

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Online LibrarySamuel J. (Samuel John) BayardA short history of the life and services of Gen. William Henry Harrison → online text (page 1 of 5)
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It falls to the lot of few, and it is in
the power and disposition of still fewer,
to win that applause which rewards the
Patriot Soldier, and the honest Statesman.
Under a republican form of government,
the people ought carefully to cherish the
memory of such. Unless public virtue is
rewarded with the public gratitude, the dis-
tinction between political vice and political
virtue is abolished. It is a duty, then, of
all good citizens, to award to our public
worthies their just recompense of honor,
to defend them when unjustly assailed, to
rejoice in their vindication, and by no
means to permit them to be traduced or
stigmatized with unjust opprobrium.

The great achievements of William
Henry Harrison, both in civil and milita-
ry employments, form a portion of our na-
tional renown. His history is blended
with the national history. His fame is the
property of the nation, ft is a treasure
which no Patriot would desire to see di-
minished by the detraction of party spirit.

Thousands of those who followed his vic-
torious banners and now enjoy the bles-
sings secured by his wisdom and valor, in
their homes beyond the mountains,consider
him as the Father of the West, and next
to the immortal Washington, as the great-
est benefactor of the Republic. But mil-
lions have come into existence since the
fame of his victories and the lustre of his
civil administration of the Western Terri-
tory were fresh in the minds of the people.
And too many who would have been pro-

nounced traitors twenty-five years ago,
had they dared to lisp a calumny on the
name of Harrison, now in the wanton spir-
it of party hatred, boldly assail the long
worn laurels of the illustrious veteran.

The public service of General Harrison
extends through a period of near forty
years. The chief portion of that period
embraces the most bitter party contests
which the country has experienced. The
most active services of General Harrison
were performed in the employment of the
democratic administrations of Mr. Jeffer-
son and Mr. Madison. And most, if not
all the assaults upon the reputation of Har-
rison can be traced to the federal press,
during the war, which waged perpetual
hostilities on those democratic adminis-
trations, and all in authority under them.
It is from the dust and oblivion of such
sources that the materials are now ob-
tained to vilify the name of a man, whose
fame is dear to the hearts of his country.
But it will be found that his claim


to the gratitude of the nation is too well es,
tablished to be slighted or undermined at
this late day.

The facts recorded in the following pages
are attested by a cloud of witnesses, and
can never he denied nor disproved. They
will be found fully corroborated by the tes-
timony of Harrison's most determined po-
litical opponents. The Life of General
Harrison, written many years since by
Moses Dawson, of Cincinnati, (a prominent
supporter of Mr. Van Buren, and who was

tif»|j w iattal ;<> 'mikt.-iI Jackson, a Receiver
of a Land < Office in Ohio,) has furnished the
compiler with a considerable portion of his
materials. Mr. Dawson, in his fcrife oi
Genera] Harrison, triumphantly vindicates
him from all the aspersions of hid envious
and jealous rivals.

chapter 1.
Birth, Parentage, Education, and the com-
mencement of his Military career.
William Henrv Harrison was born at
Berkley, Virginia, on the 9th of February,
1773. He came of a Patriot stock. 1 lis
father was Benjamin Harrison, one of the
signers of the Declaration of Independence.
As a Member of Congress and as Gover-
nor of Virginia, Benjamin Harrison ren-
dered invaluable services to his country.
1 [e was in Congress during the memorable
years of 1774, '75, and '70. Ho was
chairman of the Board of War, and acted
as chairman of the committee of the whole
Mouse, when the Declaration of Indepen-
dence was considered. 1 le was subse-
quently Speaker of the House of Delegates
and Governor of Virginia. He expended
in the cause of his country a fine estate,
and left to a large family only the legacy
of a good name anil good principles. "Wil-
liam Henry, his third son, was educated at
Hampden Sidney College^ and at the. age
of 17 commenced, under Dr. Rush, in Phil-
adelphia, the study of) medicine.

At this period the whole western frontier
was alarmed with the hostile operations of
the Indian nations in that quarter, With
•■very breeze came intelligence of their fe-
rocious incursions. Horrible details filled
the papers of women and children slain oi-
led into captivity, — of the hardy settler
down in his eoni fit Id or beleaguered in his
log cabin. Sometimes he was waylaid in
his path, and often awakened by the, mid-
night bla/.e of his habitation, ar-.d the war-
whoop of his savage enemy. Two armies,
those, of llarmar and St. Clair, were in
succession almost completely annihilated.
Dismay and terror pervaded the frontier
and effectually checked the progress of the
western settlements.

Born with a generous and noble dis-
position, ihe bosom of the youthful Har-
rison kindled with patriotic ardor to
hasten to the succor of his bleeding coun-

try. He burned to avenge her injuries,

to chastise the barbarian foe, to re-
store peace and safety to the harrassed
pioneer. I [e unfolded his views to his
guardain, the celebrated Financier, Robert

Morris, who discouraged his enterprising
determination, and depicted a campaign
against the Indians as the most perilous
and least glorious of any. He told him that
defeat by such a foe was sure disgrace, and
that victory over him was not rewarded by
the brightest laurels. Hut no remonstran-
ces or discouragements could divert this
brave young man from bis settled purpose.
His application to President Washington
for military employment was gratified.
He received a commission as Ensign in
the artillery, and immediately departed for
the scene of hostilities at the west; Thus,
at the early age of 19,commenced the pub-
lic services ai' William Henry Harrison.
The pursuits of literature, the security and
luxury of an Atlantic, city, the pleasures
and comforts of city life, the social inter-
course, ami powerful patronage of his fath-
er's distinguished friends and revolutionary
<• impauioiis, were all relinquished without
a sigh. He-turned his back on all these
fascinating allurements, to plunge into the
deep forest where prowled the crafty In-
diau. He repaired to the post of danger
where active service against the enemies
of the country was to be performed. None
but a youth whose heart was moulded-after
an heroic model, would thus have acted.

Harrison arrived at Fort Washington.
the scite of the present city of Cincinnati,
a short period subsequent to the < 1 . - 1 ". at of
GeneTal St. Clair. This terrible disaster
gave the combined Indian forces the com-
mand of the whole Northwestern Territory,
and left the. .scattered settlements of the
West alujpst entirely at their mercy.

The fir>t duty Harrison performed was
that ol visiting the battle ground where St.
Clair was defeated, and giving honorable
burial to the remains ol the unfortunate.
men who there fell. It was in the depth
of winter, and the young soldier " marcjied

on fool through the snow, at the head of his
detachment, with his knapsack on his back,
to the lata] ground."*

liurtH UV Bp



The campaign of General Anthony Wayne,
and the Bailie of the Miami Rapids.
The spirit of the country was only roused
and invigorated by the calamity of St. Clair.
' In 1792, another army was called into the
field. Gen. Washington appointed to the
chief command of this army, the celebrated
Gen. Anthony Wayne. Distinguished for
impetuous valor, great sagacity, prudence,
perseverance and resource of mind, Gen.
Wayne enjoyed the confidence of the peo-
pl e, the army and the Government. Bold,
but cautious, he combined, in happy union,
the qualities of tremendous energy* and the
most wary vigilance. He was a thorough
and indefatigable disciplinarian, and yet,
notwithstanding, the idol of his army. —
Harrison, now a lieutenant, was ordered to
repair to the standard of this accomplished
soldier. He had been but a short time in
the camp of Wayne, when his martial bear-
ing, his observance of discipline, activity,
promptitude and intrepidity, attracted the
military eye and secured the confidence of
his General. Harrison was appointed one
of the aids of Wayne, and acted in that ca-
pacity until the close of the war. In the
military family and under the tuition of this
renowned General, Harrison acquired a
knowledge of tactics. He acquired, also,
those habits and that discipline which were
eminently useful to him in after life.

Gen. W r ayne penetrated cautiously but
steadily into the heart of the hostile coun-
try, driving before him the confederated
tribes. It was not, however, until August,
1794, that he succeeded in bringing the In-
dians to a general action. On the twenti-
eth of that month, near the Rapids of the
Miami river, Gen. Wayne engaged the
combined force of the Indian nations then
in arms. The Indians were defeated with
great slaughter after a hard fought battle,
which humbled them for many years. In
this action, the first he ever witnessed, Har-
rison bore a conspicuous part. His cool-
ness, decision and valor, won for him the
admiration of the whole army and the
warmest commendations of his General.
There are soldiers still living who were in
that battle, who delight to expatiate on the
gallant behaviour of Harrison on that bloo-
dy field. In his despatches to the Presi-
dent, after his victory, Gen. Wayne says :

" The bravery and conduct of every officer be-
longing to the army, from the generals down to the
ensigns, merit my highest approbation. There
were, however, some whose rank and situation
placed their conduct in a very conspicuous point
of view, and which I observed with pleasure and
the most lively gratitude ; among whom I beg
leave to mention Brigadier General Wilkinson,
and Colonel Mamtramck, the commandant of the
right and left wings of the legion, whose brave ex-
ample inspired the troops ; and to these I must
add the names of my faithful and gallant aids,
decamp Captains De Butts and T. Lewis, and
Lieutenant HARRISON, who, with the Adjutant
General Major Mills, rendered the most essential
service by communicating my orders in every di-

Thus, on this first occasion which of-
fered, we find young Harrison winning an
honorable name and establishing a title to
the gratitude of his country. He has now

become no longer unknown to fame.

From this period henceforth his deeds and
services are recorded among the archives
of his country, and the first historian ofhis
achievements is General Anthony Wayne,
the Hero of Stoney Point and the favorite
General of the great WASHINGTON,


Is appointed Captain ; Secretary of the N.

W. Territory ; Delegate to Congress, and

Governor of Indiana.

The decisive victory cf Gen. Wayne
broke up the dangerous and formidable con-
federacy of the North- West Indians, and
restored tranquility to the frontier. In
1795 the Indians sued for peace, and Har-
rison, under the superintendence of Gen.
Wayne, assisted in negotiating the famous
Treaty of Greenville, which established our
relations with the north-west tribes.

Soon after the battle of Miami, Harrison
was promoted by Gen. Washington to a
captaincy and stationed at Fort Washing-
ton. There he became acquainted with
and married the daughter of Judge Sym-
mes, the proprietor of a large tract of coun-
try between the Big and Little Miamis. —
This amiable lady has always been distin-
guished for benevolence and piety, fulfilling
with eminent fidelity all the duties of wife
and mother. She is still the living consola-
tion of his advancing years, and the witness
of the new honors which a grateful country
may have in reserve for him.

The inactive garrison life of a soldier, in
a period of profound peace, wa$ unsuited to

the tn*ts and ardent disposition of Harrison.
In 1797 he resigned his commission in the
army and retired to private life. lie was,
however, soon summoned to the service of
his country in her civil department, and
received the appointment of Secretary of
the North-West Territory, and vx-ojjicio
Lieutenant Governor. Thus, at the age
of 24, we find him commencing his career
of civil employment, placed in a position of
great responsibility and requiring the ex-
ercise of talents of a high order. In 179q
the North-Western Territory became enti-
tled to send a Delegate to Congress. The
eyes of the people were directed to Harri-
son, and he was elected the first Delegate
of the Territory to Congress. When we
consider how many and important duties
devolve on the first Delegate lo Congress
from a new Territory, we shall be able to
appreciate with what high confidence in his
abilities and integrity the people of the N.
W. Territory must have been inspired. —
Previous to his election he met with much
opposition from some of the settlers, who
had landed disputes with Judge Symmes,
the father-in-law of Harrison. They sup-
posed that he would feel interested in pro-
moting the views of his father-in-law ad-
versely to their claims. They were hap-
pily surprised when they found in Gen.
Harrison a warm advocate ot their wishes.
He considered that the welfare of the Ter-
ritory would be promoted by their success,
and that what*, ver might be his own or his
father-in-law's interests, his duty required
him to support the claims of the poor set-
tler. Accordingly, after taking his scat in
Congress, he ably and satisfactorily vindi-
cated the claims o*f the settlers and estab-
lished them in possession of their lands. In
this act, at the outset of his political liie, he
thus displayed that heroic independence of
sordid and selfish considerations which has
ever since characterized his career. In-
deed, as we proceed in his history, this will
be found a peculiar trait in his character.
The acquisition of property seems never to
have been with him a motive of action. —
The love of laudable distinction— a desire
to discharge his duty and his whole duty
— to advance the welfare and the glorj oi
his country, these were the objects ol his
ambition. With his patriotic eve thus di-
rected, ho overlooked the opportunities of

amassing wealth, and herded not the gain-
fid chances of speculation.

At the period when General Harrison
entered Congress as a Delegate of the
Northwest Territory, the public lands
could be purchased of Government only in
tracts of about 4000 acres. The fact was,
therefore, that none but the wealthy could
buy the public lands. The poor man could
only obtain them at second hand of the spec-
ulator, at an advanced price. The effect
of this unfortunate mode of selling the west-
ern lands, was seriously to retard the set-
tlement of the western country. The har-
dy and enterprising emigrant was compel-
led to purchase of the monopolist and pav
a monopoly price for his lands, and too of-
ten to experience the grasping exactions of
his greedy creditor. To destroy entirely
this odious and pernicious system was one
of the first objects of Harrison's exertions
after taking his seat in Congress. He
brought the subject before the House of
Representatives and pressed it upon tho
consideration of members with zeal and en-
ergy. He succeeded in obtaining a com.
mittce to consider the question. He was
himself appointed chairman of that com-
mittee, (the only instance of a delegate from
a territory ever acting in such capacity,)
and as such, made an able report, the sug-
gestions contained in which, are the basis
of the present admirable system of disposing
of the public domain. The report conclu-
ded by recommending the s£le of the pub-
lic landsin small parcels. A bill was accor-
dingly introduced with provisions to that ef-
fect. It encountered violent opposition in its
passage through Congress. But thecnlight-
encd and liberal views, the powerful argu-
ments and eloquent appeals of Harrison fi-
nally prevailed, and the bill became a law.
The consequences of this memorable act of
Congress were immediately perceived in
the increased progress of the western set-
tlements. It stimulated emigration to a
vast extent. Swarms of hardy eastern and
northern farmers repaired to the cheap and
fertile lands now offered for their selection.
The whole western country leaped forward
as it were with a bound. From the adop-
tion of that act of Congress we may date the
commencement oi that wonderful devel-
opment of national wealth and resources
in the west, which is bearing our country,

as on eagle wings, forward on her career of
power, opulence and grandeur. To Har-
rison the chief glory of this change of the
national policy must forever be ascribed.
Doubtless at a later day it might have been
accomplished without his agency, but that
it received the sanction of Congress at that
early day, can only be attributed to his in-
defatigable and persevering exertions.

To have been instrumental in procuring
the enactment of a law, so beneficent and
glorious in its consequences, would of itself
have been sufficient to immortalize any
statesman. And had Harrison died on the
morning of its adoption, his memory would
have lived through all time. He would
have been venerated forever as the Father
of the West. Western States would have
vied in doing homage to his worth, and
western generations delighted in his praise.
The famous alien and sedition laws were
adopted during this session of Congress.
It has been attempted to connect General
Harrison's name with these unpopular
measures. The falsity of such attempts
will readily appear when it is considered
that a Delegate from a Territory has no
vote in Congress. He is there to attend
to the interests "of the Territory, and no
Delegate ever takes part in any discussions
but what relate to his Territory or its im-
mediate welfare. The consequence is, that
bo far as concerns the proceedings of Con-
gress, no Delegate can be considered as a
partizan. In relation to the alien and se-
dition laws, there is no vote or act of Gen-
eral Harrison which can be produced as
evidence of his approbation of those laws.
While it is highly probable that had he ever
approved them, his enemies would long since
have furnished the conclusive proof of such
fact; the strongest negative testimony
exists, of his hostility to those laws, in
the entire confidence which Mr. Jeffer-
son and the democratic republican party
always manifested in his principles and a-

The brilliant results of his legislative
career soon operated so powerfully on the
public mind at the west, that a party was
formed in the Territory which desired the
removal of Gen. St. Clair, as Governor,
and the appointment of Harrison. As
soon, however,as this project was disclosed,
he discountenanced it, and refused the pro-

posed honor, on the ground that the revo-
lutionary sei vices and individual merits of
Gen. St. Clair, gave him a claim upon the
country, when entitled him to the station
he occuped.

Soon after this, however, the North-
Western Territory was divided. The pres-
ent State of Ohio was erected into a Ter-
ritory by itself, and the whole country
west and north-west, comprising the pres-
cut States of Indiana, Illinois and Michi-
gan, and the Territory of Wisconsin, were
organized into a new Territory, called the
Territory of Indiana. Of this great Ter-
ritory, Harrison, then only 25 years of age,
was appointed Governor. After the pur-
chase of the Louisiana Territory, the up-
per part of it was annexed to Indiana Ter-

As Governor of this vast country, Gen-
eral Harrison was cx-officio Superintendent
of Indian Affairs. He was appointed, like-
wise, by Mr. Jefferson, in 1801, sole com-
missioner for treating with the Indians.—
During his administration of the civil gov-
ernment of the Territory, he negotiated
fifteen Treaties with the different Indian
Nations, and obtained for the United States
more than 70,000,000 of acres of lands. —
His justice, forbearance, and address, gave
him great influence with the native tribes,
— while his firmness, vigilance and vigor,
kept them in check when often predisposed
to "violence and outrage. His powers as
the superior Civil Executive Magistrate of
the Territory and Commander-in-Chief of
its military force, were more unbounded
than any before or since entrusted to any
single individual in the United States. He
discharged, likewise, for several years, the
duties of a Legislature for the Territory.
He was clothed with power to select from
the civil and criminal laws of the other
States, such as he deemed suitable for the
Territory. He appointed all the magis,
trates and civil officers, and all military of-
ficers below the rank of General. He was
entrusted with the power of confirming
grants of lands to claimants having equita-
ble claims under French or other grants,
or purchases. It is a little extraordinary,
that exercising these unlimited discretion-
ary powers, affecting public and private
interests of vast magnitude, during all
his administration, no charge of malfea-


sance, no Executive blunder, no error of
judgment, no abuse of authority, was ever
substantiated against him. Power neither
corrupted his heart nor disturbed the sound
exercise of his reason and common se
His vast patronage was uniformly ex rci.
sed for the public good. No venal favor-
ites were permitted under him to plunder^
the public treasure. No official misconJ
duct was screen. •(! by him from public cenj
sure. No servile instruments were em.
ployed by hi in. for his own aggrandizement,
lie never was accused of using the patron-
age of.his office for the promotion of a
personal schemes of profit or honor. Aloof
from the storms of party contests and the
intrigues of petty politicians, lie pursued
the honest- tenor of his way, — his object,
his country's welfare; his "ambition-

In the exercise of his official duties, op-
portunities abounded for successful invest-
ments in lands. He possessed the power
of dividing the Territory into counties
and towns, and of designating the seats of
justice for the respective counties. No one
canfailto perceive how easily he could
have enriched himself under such a state of
things, by selections of lands near the scites
of villages, which he could not but perceh
would soon spring up„ Butthe Roman vir-
tue of Harrison was proof against all such
temptations. He invariaWj abstained from
all traffic in the the public domain. No sus-
picion ever assailed him, oi having profited
by his official means of information ■, in any
landed investment. 1 low few, in these de-
generate days, who enjoy but a tithe of Har-
rison's opportunities for accumulating prop-
erty, tail to avail themselves to the Utter-
t of all such official chances I
In the year L805, after repeated recom-

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Online LibrarySamuel J. (Samuel John) BayardA short history of the life and services of Gen. William Henry Harrison → online text (page 1 of 5)