Briefly a medical student, William Henry Harrison left his studies to join the army. In the Northwest Territory he became aide-de-camp to Gen. Anthony Wayne and was cited for bravery at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Harrison moved to North Bend, OH, and entered politics.
President John Adams named him secretary for the Northwest Territory in 1798 and he was chosen the territory's first delegate to Congress the following year. He later was governor of the Indiana Territory, during which time he opened up millions of acres of land to white settlement. Conflict with the Indians of the region erupted into hostilities in late 1811.
While camped at Tippecanoe Creek, Harrison was surprised by an attack and his force of 800 stung badly. The group rallied and drove off the attackers. That battle was the basis of his later nickname "Tippecanoe." In August 1812, after the outbreak of the war with England, Harrison was made a brigadier general and commander of all the troops in the northwest. He recaptured Detroit from the British in September 1813 and defeated the fleeing British and Indians at the Battle of the Thames River in Ontario on October 5.
He resigned from the army in May 1814 to return to North Bend and enter politics. A low point was in 1828 when he was recalled as minister to Colombia by Andrew Jackson. Financial troubles set in and he became clerk of the local court of common pleas in 1834. He began to tour, attending celebrations of his military exploits. He was one of three Whig nominees for the presidency in 1836 and carried seven states. He continued his quest for the office and was named the single Whig candidate in 1839, with John Tyler as his vice presidential running mate: "Tippecanoe and Tyler too." He won decisively and died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration.