Though never personal, throughout the course of the early 19th century, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison found their lives intertwined for decades, through war and peace. Though they often found themselves in competition, there were also some rare instances where they could be found on the same side, and the story of their relationship over time provides much insight about the antebellum period of American history. Source information for this episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
John Tyler’s unexpected ascendancy to the presidency causes both Whigs and Democrats to think and rethink their strategies for the 1844 presidential election. Presumptive candidates Henry Clay and Martin Van Buren prepare to lead their respective parties into the general campaign, but for both, complications arise that threaten their political futures as the ambitious new president makes a priority of bringing Texas into the Union. Dissension in the ranks, rivals for power, and increased sectional tensions all threaten to make 1844 a year that Clay and Van Buren may wish to forget. Source information for this episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com
He may have lost in 1832, but that didn’t mean that Henry Clay lost his desire for the presidency. As 1836 and 1840 neared, each time, the gentleman from Kentucky had to decide whether to go for the gold once more. However, he would find the way in both contests littered with other Whig contenders in addition to old Sweet Sandy Whiskers (aka: Martin Van Buren) on the Democratic side. Nevertheless, the Senator persevered through the late 1830s and would take on presidents, generals, senators, pro-slavery southerners, and abolitionists in his quest to make it to the White House. Source information for this episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
The State Department under Henry Clay attempts to make its pivot to a focus on Latin America, but in its engagement with other nations in the Western Hemisphere, the nation’s diplomatic office stumbles and at times falls completely short. Clay struggles to deal with overzealous diplomats, turbulent situations on the ground, and British intrigues to gain influence in the region at the expense of the United States. The Western Star faces his greatest challenge yet when he assumes the role of Secretary of State and learns just how fraught with peril geopolitical relations can be. Source information for this episode can be found at whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
Ron Shafer, author of The Carnival Campaign, shares his insight into the 1840 presidential campaign, some of the prominent figures and circumstances of the time, and how he feels that William Henry Harrison is the figure from the 1840 campaign that people should know more about. During the course of the interview, Ron brings in his experience as a former Wall Street Journal reporter and editor, in particular his writing the page one column The Washington Wire, to share with listeners how the 1840 campaign in particular and early American politics in particular compares with our own time.
The Star of the West, Henry Clay, heads east as he is appointed as a peace commissioner and sent to Ghent, Belgium to negotiate with the British to end a war that was not going all that well (except for, of course, in the campaigns led by General William Henry Harrison). Before heading off to Europe though, Clay also had his first brush with presidential politics as he was offered a place on a presidential ticket. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
Westward expansion was one of the underlying causes of the American Revolution and played a key role in early American history. In this episode, I give a quick overview of the American push towards the Pacific beginning with the trans-Appalachian west and carrying on to Texas and Oregon. This expansion would ultimately impact not just the settlers making the move but also the native peoples already in the area as well as have ramifications for the 19th century geopolitical landscape. Source information and handy maps for reference can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
The time has finally come for President Harrison to meet his maker. However, as with many things, the story of Harrison’s last days is not as clear cut as it’s been made out to be in history. I look at the details of his last illness as well as how 21st century medical knowledge questions the diagnosis of pneumonia as his cause of death. Also, I spend some time on the idea of legacy and a few ways, both directly and tangentially, Harrison’s life and death contributed to the future. Source information for his episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
We step out of the narrative for this episode and examine what evidence is in the historical record about what other presidents thought of William Henry Harrison. From the first president to the forty-third, Old Tippecanoe elicited much comment from both contemporaries and future generations. Some presidents campaigned for him. Others fought to keep him out of the White House. Some admired him. Others ridiculed him. Some pronounced him “first-rate” while others called him a “stuffed shirt.” Some proclaimed him to be “the stern and unflinching advocate of popular rights” while others felt that his election would lead to the nation’s “end like that of ancient republics.” Find out who said what about the General in this episode. Source information can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.
Though the presidency of William Henry Harrison was short, the emotions of those thirty days ran the gamut. The jubilation and mirth of the inauguration quickly gave way to the frustration of trying to appease supporters with patronage. The stress got to Harrison so much that Andrew and I had to censor him on his own show (this is supposed to be a family-friendly show, General – control yourself!). Between the office seekers, Henry Clay’s impetuousness, and the looming fiscal crisis, Harrison did not have an easy go of it in the first few weeks but did still manage to keep up a lively social calendar before a doctor was called in on March 26th. Sources used for this episode can be found at http://whhpodcast.blubrry.com.