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Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time Hardcover – June 1, 1990

ISBN-13: 978-0945707011 ISBN-10: 0945707010

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Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time + John Tyler: Champion of the Old South + Martin Van Buren : The Romantic Age of American Politics (Signature Series)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: American Political Biography Press (June 1, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0945707010
  • ISBN-13: 978-0945707011
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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A worthwhile and interesting read.
Pugwash
Shows his real love of his country; his humanity towards the Indians and his sternness and amazing military abilities.
Thomas Ellis
He repeatedly makes reference to characters not previously introduced.
David H. Calloway

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Steve Fast on March 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This bio was first published in 1939, so the style is a bit old. But it is still quite readable. As far as I know, it is the only non-juvenile biography of Harrison in print.

The author has an excellent grasp of the details of Harrison's career as a general, governor of Indiana Territory, and Congressman. There is not much to say, of course, about his month-long administration, except for the distribution of the spoils.

The biggest weakness of the book is the author's tendency to view everything Harrison did in a positive light. For example, Harrison made some major mistakes in his battles that cost lives, yet Cleaves glosses over these issues. Clay and Harrison also seem not to have gotten along well, yet Clay is the one at fault, according to Cleaves.

Cleaves also does not clearly explain the turning point in Harrison's career--at age 62 after having left Congress years earlier and while working as a lowly common court clerk to pay off his debts, he somehow became a presidential candidate in the campaign to succeed Jackson. Cleaves attributes it to the widespread reprinting of a letter Harrison wrote defending his generalship during the War of 1812. But he overlooks the question of why it was so widely reprinted. Harrison must have had an organization to get the campaign going--I just can't see it as having been a "draft Harrison" campaign as he was so far from the political limelight. A fascinating question that Cleaves left untouched.

This book contains good material regarding relations with the Indians in the Northwest Territory. Of course, it narrates a lot of tragedy and injustice, but it also gives a dynamic and somewhat sympathetic portrayal of the Indians with whom Harrison dealt.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Archer@visi.net (Adam Gortowski) on July 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This book contained everything I could have reasonably hoped to expect from a presidential biography of the subject. Naurally the book tends to gravitate to the early history of Indiana as pertains to Harison, the military acheivements of General Harrison and the Native Americans he encountered. The presidential portion of Harrison's life, I feel was conveyed fully, since this portion of his life was so breif. I particularly appreciated the way the author expanded subjects of American history around Harrison in an effort to better explain the environment and circumstances from which Harrison would have perceived them.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Schaffner on October 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. The majority of the book focuses on WHH's experience as Govenor of Indiana Territory, and as a commander in the war of 1812. The book was written in the 1930's. As is typical of many biographies of its era, little attention is paid to Harrison's family or his personal life. Some may find that a refreshing change from the psychologically based biographies of today. Others may feel that an important facet is missing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G. Zilly on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am currently reading a bio of every President in order. With the more obscure Presidents of the antebellum era, the task of finding a quality biography becomes a bit more difficult. For William Henry Harrison the choice is extremely easy, as I believe Freeman Cleaves' bio is the only non-juvenile one readily available (a new book about Harrison will be available in October called "Mr. Jefferson's Hammer", although it does not appear to be a full biography).

With my task of selection made simple, I am pleased to say that Cleaves' biography is fully satisfactory and is recommendable beyond the fact that it has a monopoly on the subject. Freeman's biography of Harrison is easy to read, well organized, and is as comprehensive and detailed as I believe most readers will desire.

Given that Harrison's Presidency lasted only a month, from the outset of this book I was concerned that I may not learn too much new information about American History. Thankfully, most of this book is dedicated to Harrison's life in Ohio and Indiana and I learned much about frontier life of the early nineteenth century, America's relationship and conflicts with the northwest Indian tribes, and the northern campaigns of the War of 1812 which had not been previously covered in other Presidential biographies that I have read.

While Cleaves' bio is not exceptional enough to merit five stars, it is more than adequate for its task and exceeds reasonable expectations of a biography about an obscure President. I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in presidential biography or early nineteenth century American and Native American history.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Yanni on August 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Okay, the author isn't David McCullough; his writing style isn't THAT good. But very few biographers are, and this one is surprisingly readable especially given that he wrote in the 1930s. Also, he suffers slightly from a tendency to over-lionize his subject, but again, not nearly as much as many authors, particularly from that time period. But this biography's strong suit is that it provides a wealth of information about a president who most Americans know next to nothing about. Some might remember the campaign slogan, "Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too", and be able to extrapolate from that and the fact that his successor was John Tyler that Harrison's nickname was "Tippecanoe"; a very few might know that the Tippecanoe in question was a battle at which Harrison fought. A particularly knowledgeable layman might be able to remember or figure out that said battle was in the War of 1812, based on the timing of Harrison's presidency (before the Civil War, well after the Revolution). What I suspect most Americans who would admit to having ever heard of Harrison will remember is that he died of pneumonia 30 days after becoming president, as a result of giving a long inaugural speech in the cold without wearing a hat or an overcoat, and according to this biography, even this piece of information is partially inaccurate; he DID die of pneumonia 30 days after his inaugural, and he DID give a long speech while disdaining a coat or hat, but he didn't become ill for 2-3 weeks after that, so it is doubtful that there is a causal relationship between the two facts.

There are biographies that I've read that were more informative and/or better written. But I have never read a biography that did a better job of increasing my knowledge of the subject, because my knowledge of this subject was so small coming in. That is why I give this book five stars rather than four.
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