Artist George Peter Alexander Healy
John Tyler was America's Ninth president from March to April 1841. The candidacy of William Henry Harrison indicates that American politics were moving in a more populist direction as the country expanded. A two term congressman and former territorial governor, Harrison had no noteworthy political abilities, but for the Whig Party in 1840, he was the perfect figurehead: a military hero in the War of 1812 and a frontier Indian fighter. Harrison’s supporters celebrated his military prowess and combined it with homespun frontier imagery, such as log cabins and hard cider, in a presidential campaign that was unprecedented for its carnival-like hoopla. While discussion of real issues was scant, that ballyhoo of the race proved sufficient in itself to win Harrison the presidency. Jubilance over his victory, however, was short lived. On April 4, 1841, exactly one month after delivering a very long inaugural address in extremely harsh weather conditions, Harrison became the first president to die in office. Until recently, the cause of his death was thought to have been pneumonia, but now, there is new evidence suggesting that he may have suffered from enteric fever and septic shock.