Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tippecanoe and Palin Too

William Henry Harrison was the Whig candidate for President in 1840. Harrison's fame was as a hero of the Indian wars: he commanded the victorious U.S. forces at the Battle of Tippecanoe. John Tyler was his running mate: a cynical choice, recruited from the Democratic Party to the Whigs expressly so he could be placed on this fusion ticket. The campaign is remembered for the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler too!" Harrison was the oldest man ever to run as a major party nominee for President prior to Ronald Reagan; now, of course, John McCain holds that distinction. Harrison was a wealthy landowner, but his campaign portrayed him as a humble frontiersman.

Tippecanoe won, and upholding his rugged frontier image, he gave his inaugural address without his topcoat on a frigid winter day. He caught a chill which developed into pneumonia, and he died just a few weeks into his tenure. Tyler ascended to the Presidency, in this then-unprecedented circumstance in our history. The legitimacy of Tyler's administration was questioned, and not surprisingly he turned out to be a weak President who failed to pass any of Harrison's agenda and whose tenure helped bring on the demise of the Whig Party.

My point? To show off my haphazard knowledge of XIXc history, mostly. I don't wish McCain any corporeal harm, in fact if he wins I will pray without ceasing for his health, and lend him my topcoat if needed. I was just struck by some curious parallels here.

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