Harrison, like many other early presidents, was a Virginia plantation owner. His father, Benjamin Harrison V, was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, and his brother a member of the United States House of Representatives.
When he was 18, Harrison enlisted in the army, and he quickly rose through the ranks to become the first military governor of the Indiana territory. It was in this capacity that he defeated a rebellion of Native Americans under the leadership of Tecumseh. At the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811; Harrison was promoted to general and fought with distinction in the War of 1812, in which Tecumseh was killed fighting as an ally of the British.
After the war, he was elected to various political offices, including the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. He was the Northern Whig candidate for President in 1836, but lost the election to Martin Van Buren. He was a candidate again in 1840, when he won largely because of his heroic military record and the fact that the United States had suffered a severe economic downturn. His vice president was John Tyler. Their campaign slogans of "Log Cabins and Hard Cider" and "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" are among the most famous in American politics.
It was an extremely cold and windy day, March 4, 1841, when Harrison was to take the oath of office. Nevertheless, he faced the weather with no coat on, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history, at nearly two hours. During this address he caught a cold, which developed into pneumonia. He passed away a month later, becoming the first American president to die in office. Harrison served the shortest term of any American president, a total of only 31 days. John Tyler succeeded him to the Presidency shortly thereafter.