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Whig Presidential Nominee William Henry Harrison to Daniel Webster
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“My friends are preparing for a convention at Columbus on the 22d whichwill be the largest assemblage of citizens & otherwise the most interesting ever held in the Western Country…”

Harrison asks U.S. Senator Daniel Webster for assistance on the sale of land in Vincennes, Indiana, and mentions an upcoming Whig convention in Columbus, Ohio. After his election, Harrison appointed Webster as his Secretary of State.

WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON. Autograph Letter Signed, to Daniel Webster, February 16, 1840, Cincinnati, OH. 2 pp., 7½ x 9¾ in.

Inventory #26779       Price: $5,400

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Cincinnati 16th Feby 1840

My dear sir

            Your kind favors of the 5th were sent down to North Bend the day before yesterday  I came up from thence last Evening & have to request that if your negotiation should prove successful that the money may be placed in some bank in New York or Philadelphia subject to the Order of Colo Nathaniel G. Pendleton.[1] I will immediately upon being informed of this being done execute a deed of trust to Colonel Pendleton & your friend Fales[2] for say one hundred lots in the City of Vincennes & two hundred acres of land immediately adjoining the lots of the City. I repeat that this property is totally unencumbered having by purchased by me 39 years ago, confirmed to me by the Government & ever since in my actual possession. Judge Burnet[3] is acquainted with this property & will if necessary give an opinion of its value

            My friends are preparing for a convention at Columbus on the 22d whichwill be the largest assemblage of citizens & otherwise the most interesting ever held in the Western Country

            I am greatly indebted to <2> Mr Curtis[4] for the aid he has given you in my affairs

                                                                        Yours very truly

                                                                        W. H. Harrison

            PS A Bank in New York would be preferred as the place of deposit.

Honbe / Daniel Webster Esq


Historical Background
In 1836, Democratic presidential candidate Martin Van Buren easily defeated a Whig Party divided among three major candidates—William Henry Harrison, Hugh L. White, and Daniel Webster. Three years later, after Webster dropped out, Whigs held their first national convention at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to unite behind a single candidate. The leading contenders were William Henry Harrison, Henry Clay, and Winfield Scott. Webster supported Harrison, who was selected on the fifth ballot on December 13, 1839.

Two months later, Harrison wrote this letter to Webster regarding the sale of some of his land in Vincennes, Indiana. While serving as the governor of the Indiana Territory from 1801-1812, Harrison lived at “Grouseland,” a 300-acre estate he built in Vincennes that he modeled after his childhood home in Virginia. It is unclear whether the property he hoped to sell with Webster’s assistance was this property or some other or whether the sale occurred.

The Whig State Central Committee of Ohio called for a convention at Columbus on February 21 and 22, 1840. Though General Harrison was not in attendance, thousands of delegates and spectators from across the state assembled in the capital. Despite rain pouring in torrents and knee-deep mud on the roads, the Whigs conducted a mile-long parade with twenty bands, banners, flags, and log cabins on wheels. The convention nominated Thomas Corwin (1794-1865) as the Whig candidate for governor (he won, serving from 1840 to 1842) and passed resolutions supporting the election of Harrison and Tyler and opposing President Van Buren.

In November, Harrison carried his home state of Ohio and its 21 electoral votes with 54.1 percent of the popular vote to Van Buren’s 45.6 percent. Nationwide, Harrison won 19 states to Van Buren’s 7, with a resounding 234-to-60 victory in the Electoral College.

William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) was born in Virginia into a prominent planter family and studied at Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the army in 1791 and participated in the Northwest Indian War, including the decisive victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, which Harrison signed as a witness. He married Anna Tuthill in 1795, and they had ten children. In 1798, Harrison resigned from the military and became secretary of the Northwest Territory. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Northwest Territory (1799-1800) and as governor of the Indiana Territory (1801-1812). In 1811, he defeated Shawnee leader Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe, for which Harrison was praised as a national hero. During the War of 1812, Harrison commanded the Army of the Northwest and defeated the British and their Indian allies at the Battle of the Thames in 1813. After disagreements with the Secretary of War, Harrison resigned in 1814.  He represented Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives (1816-1819) and the U.S. Senate (1825-1828). After running as a regional Whig candidate for the presidency in 1836, Harrison won the 1840 election over incumbent Martin Van Buren. On March 4, 1841, a cold, wet day, Harrison wore no hat or overcoat, rode on horseback to his inauguration, and delivered the longest inaugural speech of any American president. He became ill three weeks later and died of pneumonia on April 4, having been president for 31 days. He was the last United States president born as a British subject and the first to die in office.

Daniel Webster (1782-1852) was born in New Hampshire, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801, and was admitted to the bar in 1805. He represented New Hampshire in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. As a preeminent attorney, he argued 223 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning about half, and playing a key role in eight of the Court’s most important constitutional law cases decided between 1801 and 1824. (His arguments were accepted by Chief Justice John Marshall in Dartmouth Collegev. Woodward (1819), finding that a state’s grant of a business charter was a contract that the state could not impair; in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), finding that a state could not tax a federal agency (specifically, a branch of the Bank of the United States), for the power to tax was a “power to destroy”; and in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), finding that a state could not interfere with Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce). Webster represented Massachusetts in the House of Representatives from 1823 to 1827 and then in the Senate from 1827 to 1841 and again from 1845 to 1850. His 1830 reply to South Carolina’s Robert Y. Hayne is considered one of the greatest speeches ever delivered in the Senate. Webster’s oratorical abilities made him a powerful Whig leader, and he served as Secretary of State, first from 1841 to 1843 under Presidents William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, and again from 1850 to 1852 under President Millard Fillmore. His support of the Compromise of 1850 may have postponed a civil war, but it cost him politically in his increasingly abolitionist home state of Massachusetts.

Condition: Seal-related paper loss; some old mounting remnants to the integral address leaf; otherwise, fine.

[1] Nathaniel Greene Pendleton (1793-1861) was born in Savannah, Georgia, and graduated from Columbia College in New York City in 1813. He studied law and gained admission to the bar. He served in the War of 1812, and moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1818, where he resumed the practice of law. He served in the Ohio Senate from 1825 to 1829. Pendleton won election as a Whig to the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1841 to 1843.

[2] Stephen Fales (1790-1854) was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard University in 1810. After tutoring classics at Bowdoin College, he studied law and gained admission to the New Hampshire bar. In 1819, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he practiced law. Two years later, he moved to Dayton, where he was elected to the State Senate. In 1831, he returned to Cincinnati and entered a law partnership with Nathaniel G. Pendleton. He died suddenly in Cincinnati.

[3] Jacob Burnet (1770-1853) was born in New Jersey and graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton University). In 1796, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he soon served as a territorial judge. When Ohio became a state in 1803, Burnet accepted the presidency of the Cincinnati College and Medical School. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 1812 to 1816 and then as president of the Ohio branch of the Bank of the United States. From 1821 to 1828, he was a justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, but resigned when appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Henry Harrison. Burnet served in the Senate from 1828 to 1831. As a delegate from Ohio, Burnet nominated his friend Harrison as candidate for the presidential nomination at the Whig Convention in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1839. Burnet was also the author of Ohio’s first constitution, adopted in 1851.

[4] Probably Charles P. Curtis (1792-1864), who was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard University in 1811. He was admitted to the bar in 1814 and became an attorney in Boston. He served on the Boston common council and as a state representative.

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