Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 23, Number 3, September 2001.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) is an early American example of that perennial political type, the "Available Man." How else to explain the success of a public figure whose first elective office (as territorial delegate to Congress) was won by a margin of one vote; whose fortunes as governor of the Indiana Territory (1801-1812) waned longer than they waxed; whose pinnacle of glory at Tippecanoe endures in the national memory more as a limerick than a battle; and who reaped the political dividends of that battle only after twenty-five years, in a presidential campaign waged primarily by the conspicuous avoidance of controversial issues?
None of this is intended to impugn our ninth president's historical significance. Much less is it intended to diminish what Douglas Clanin and Ruth Dorrel have accomplished in compiling the definitive microfilm edition dedicated to the most historically significant years of Harrison's career (1800-1815). The deliberate irony of the above sketch, rather, is a playful nod to the essentially hybrid nature of The Papers of William Henry Harrison, 1800- 1815.