Why Was William H. Harrison Successful In His Bid For The Presidency In The Election Of 1840

William Henry Harrison was born on 9th February, 1773. Earlier in his life he studied medicine but later joined the military in the 1790s after his father’s death since he could not afford the medical training fees. His first election into a political office was in 1799 as a Northwest Territory congressman delegate and at the age of 27 years in 1800, he became the vast Territory’s governor. During the 1812 war between America and Great Britain, he served as a General and his defeat of the Tecumseh Shawnee warrior made him a venerated hero after which he served as the US Senator for Ohio (Thompson, 1957, 23).Harrison first ran for presidential nomination on a Whig ticket in 1836 but lost to Martin van Buren. He ran again in 1840 winning in a landslide, 234 Electoral College votes against sixty of Van Buren. On 4th March, 1841, he delivered the longest inauguration speech in American presidential history. Sadly enough, he became the shortest serving American president in history following his death on 4th April, 1841 resulting from pneumonia infection.There are several factors that are associated with Harrison’s success in the 1840 election against Buren. The major reason seems to be the economic depression that was perceived as president Buren’s inconsistency in governance. He made concerted efforts to emphasize on his military achievements especially the record he made by defeating the British and Tecumseh in the 1812 war. All of his supporters had a passion for him as they regarded him a common man, though this doesn’t imply that he was the first candidate to whom inaccurate and exaggerated comments were made (Murray, Blessing, 1994, 67).Another aspect that made Harrison a favorite candidate for the Americans at the time was the fact that he played an instrumental role during the establishment of the Harrison Land Act of 1800. It was the act that made it possible for Americans of the working class in the Northwest Territory to acquire government land through credit, land purchase arrangements. Before his election as president, he had been appointed by President John Adams on 12th May, 1800 as governor of the Indian Territory due to his excellent skills in politics. This Indiana Territory included the modern day Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin (Perkins, 1962, 89).During his term of office as governor, he ruled with precision and military determination and he particularly could not allow existence of slavery in the territory having hailed from a prominent, strong slaveholding family background. In his presidential campaigns, he ran as a man of the common people and as a war hero. He accused Van Buren as a wealthy, comfortable snob, who lived in luxury on the public resources and expense, an allegation that made Van Buren very unpopular especially by complicating him as being responsible for the economic depression at the time.The other major reason for Harrison’s victory was the fact the Whig party had for the first time ever unified in support of Harrison. Van Buren on his side was fighting for a re-election. The 1840 election was a unique one in the sense that votes were being cast for four people who would be or had been American presidents. These were the then current president Martin Van Buren, the president elect William H. Harrison, James Polk who received a single vote for Vice Presidency and John Tyler who became the vice president (Schantz, 1996, 47).There were several subsequent Whig’s electoral losses from which Harrison effectively managed to distance himself from to become the successful presidential nominee. Furthermore, the conventional rules had been drafted in such a way that the person who would win majority of the delegates’ votes in a particular state would automatically be the winner of the votes in that state.Harrison’s savvy handlers and advisers made a total overhaul of their candidate’s image by making him appear a common man as the public wanted, against the aristocracy of Virginia. Many other subsequent campaigns took this lesson and exercised it to win victory. Abraham Lincoln, George Bush and Theodore Roosevelt are some good examples of this approach to get to office. Another factor that substantially led to Harrison’s victory is that in America’s history, he was rather a more prominent player than he was in the presidency history of the nation. However, his legacy doesn’t lie in his short term of about 32 days or the fact that he was the first American president to die in office, but mainly in the strategic means used by the Whigs to get him to office (Gonevene, 2001, 34).There are many factors that had been introduced by politician Andrew Jackson in the electoral equation and which were solidified by the 1840 election. Politics at the time was being approached as entertainment and there was increasing lower classes’ access to vote. The west was also gaining more political power. The Whig’s also adroitly managed to market their candidate to the electorate by use of colorful “Log Cabin” and “Hard Cider” memorabilia of Harrison.There was an 80% increase in voter turnout that year with development of two competitive and strong parties that led to more democracy in 1830s and 1840s making Harrison’ election the first to defeat Democrats.2. What economic changes led to the Market Revolution?The market revolution can simply be defined as the transition to buying and selling of things using money from the traditional barter or subsistence economy that occurred towards the end of the1812 war. It led to transformation of people’s perception of items to commodities upon which value was attached to by prices from just useful things. Things like human labor were attached prices apart from the slavery cases. Countryside populations hired agricultural laborers for wages just like their urban counterparts indicating a stratum that was fast growing and penetrating the countryside.People who didn’t own land rented, either in form of money or partial shares of the harvest, to grow not only subsistence crops but cash crops such as cotton and tobacco as well. The final product was sold in the markets making the system a revolutionary phenomenon, although the production process involved a variety of combinations such as sharecropping, barter and use of cash. If this hadn’t taken place, there wasn’t any reason whatsoever that people could produce crops for other purposes except what was needed for subsistence (Shaw, 2006, 45).The revolution was of great magnitude and the lives of all it affected were revolutionized including the religious beliefs and sensibilities which were enormously disrupted by it. Till early 19th Century, America remained an agrarian country primarily with agricultural domination on large-scale and small-scale farmer’s lives. Due to the time factor and high costs of shipping produce, only farmers who were near ports were able to produce cash crops whereas the small-scale farmers produced only what was enough for their family’s subsistence.The revolution was preceded by the revolution in transportation that became the establishment of trade that led to gradual corrosion of subsistence farming culture. The improvement in infrastructure such as canals, rivers, roads and the railway spurred the emergence of the market revolution where farmers who were self sufficient started penetrating the market by selling cash crops, eggs. They also mainly depended on the industries for their desired commodities such as clothing and clothing fabrics that had initially been made at home (Jacobson, 1961, 56).More and more individuals were diverting from agricultural dependence to non-agricultural trade or business such that by around 1860, approximately 40% of American citizens didn’t have a direct dependence on farming as a way of living. With increasing improvement and transportation expansion, larger population started to explore and penetrate the interior west with about half the population living outside the thirteen original states by around 1850. Furthermore, there was rapid growth of cities. By the same year there were one hundred and fifty cities which had population exceeding 5,000 compared to the fact that only twelve cities had such population in 1820. In 1820 only 9% lived in urban areas or towns that had more than 2,500 people in population while by 1860 this figure had risen to 20% (Lavoie, 2001, 29).The market revolution is regarded a laissez faire period although the federal government continued to exercise potent power in it. This was more so in the banking industry with establishment of central banks that regulated commercial banks which were licensed and charted by the state governments. The centralization of political and economic power was detested by many anxious and skeptic citizens as well as politicians especially Andrew Jackson (Kirzer, 2000, 15).A major economic change that characterized the market revolution was the increased slave trade for supply of labor to the cash crop farms especially the cotton industry revolution in England and the Northeastern textile mills in America. This caused despair and fear to the South’s slave populations.Transformation of the United States’ religious beliefs and culture was another major result of the market revolution. It mainly took place between the civil war and the revolution with profound changes in the once traditional and rural society. The repressed   evangelic Protestantism underwent anxiety and uncertainty due to the many rapid changes that were taking place. There was massive exodus of people and family breakages especially those of the slave families. There were many jobs being lost as trade got degraded by the new capitalist enterprises that devised cheap production of goods and services formally produced by the artisan classes. Women were particularly affected since they previously produced most of the items used at home and they were therefore feeling they were losing their jobs and equality with men (Sonea, 2000, 41).This period was also characterized by intensive growth in industrial development and improvement in technological innovation for increased production. It brought with it industrialization that enhanced development of technological and economic advancement. The new technology was first used in the cloth manufacturing with textile factories set up by wealthy Massachusetts merchants particularly making enormous profits. The revolution is thus a very important tool that impacted on present day American economy which was mainly stimulated by the 1812 war and the embargo of the war (Sonea, 2000, 32).The Lowell mill for example developed water power technology to run its machines. When water was thus used as a source of energy, the production costs were greatly lowered to increase profits. Dams and canals were constructed and water from the Merrimack River was utilized in the industrial processes. Lowell mill didn’t primarily depend on child labor. It was New England families’ daughters who were mainly employed to work in most of the established enterprises. The work was however very tedious, repetitive and involving very strict orders and rules.Work CitedGonovese Michael. The Power of the American Presidency: 1789-2000. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp.34Jacobson Per. The Market Economy in the World of Today. American Philosophical Society, 1961, pp.56Kirzer Israel. The Driving Force of the Market: Essays in Austrian Economics. London, Routledge, 2000, pp.15Lavoie Don. Expectations and the Meaning of Institutions: Essays in Economics. London, Routldege, 2001, pp.29Murray Robert & Blessing Tim. Greatness in the White House: Rating Presidents. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994, pp.67New York, State University of New York Press, 1996, pp.47Perkins Dexter. The United States of America: A History-Vol.1. New York, Macmillan, 1962, pp.89Schantz Harvey. American Presidential Elections: Process, Policy, and Political Change.Shaw Stephanie. Using the WPA Ex-Slave Narratives to Study the Impact of the Great Depression. Journal of Southern History, Vol.69, 2006, pp.45Sunea Vivek. Understanding Business: A Multidimensional Approach to the Market Economy. London, Routledge, 2000, pp.32Thompson George. The Signal Corps: The Test (December 1941 to July 1943). Office of the Chief of Military History, 1957, pp.23