Tecumseh’s Nemesis, Harrison!

William Henry Harrison by Paul Reaume

Indiana Governor William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison
Height: 5′ 8″
February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841

A clever politician and fearsome frontier General, Harrison moved to Vincennes, the capital of the newly established Indiana Territory, on January 10, 1801. While in Vincennes, Harrison built a plantation style home he named Grouseland for its many birds. It was one of the first brick structures in the territory. The home, which has been restored and has become a popular modern tourist attraction, served as the center of social and political life in the territory.

As governor, a primary responsibility was to obtain title to Native American lands. Harrison was eager to expand the territory for personal reasons as well, as his political fortunes were tied to Indiana’s rise to statehood. In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson granted Harrison authority to negotiate and conclude treaties with the Indians. Harrison supervised the development of 13 treaties, through which the territory bought more than 60,000,000 acres of land from Native American leaders, including much of present-day southern Indiana. Due to such policy tensions remained high on the frontier, with open warfare with the “Indians” a constant possible outcome.

The 1809 Treaty of Fort Wayne raised new tensions. Harrison purchased from the Miami tribe, who claimed ownership of the land, more than 2,500,000 acres of land inhabited by Shawnee, Kickapoo, Miami, Pottawatomie and others. Harrison rushed the process by offering large subsidies to the tribes and their leaders so that he could have the treaty in place before President Jefferson left office and the administration changed. The tribes living on the lands were furious and sought to have the treaty overturned but were ultimately unsuccessful. The rise of “The Prophet” posed a direct threat to American expansion. Harrison petitioned the US government to allow him to stop the “Indians” from forming an alliance with the British who were also a major thorn.

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