The Westside and The White House

Can you imagine a westsider in the White House? I know what you're thinking: the national treasury moved from Fort Knox and buried in the backyard, cars on blocks in the White House driveway, Pete Rose taking up residence in the Lincoln bedroom. It might sound like a nightmare to you, but it's already happened. In the spirit of this Inaugural Day, I thought I'd relate a bit of the story of the westsider who became President of The United States: William Henry Harrison.

His 2,000 acre estate overlooking the Ohio River was located in North Bend, just outside of Cleves, Ohio [a mere five miles from where I grew up]. He was originally born in Virginia and entered the military. He then settled in the Ohio region, serving as a governor over the Northwest Territory. Harrison got the nickname "Old Tippecanoe" after defeating Indians in a battle at the Tippecanoe River and gained further notoriety during the War of 1812. He became a national hero and the Whig Party nominated him for President.

Many were leary of voting for him in the 1840 election because they thought he was too old and out of touch [at the age of 68, he was one of the oldest men elected President]. Willie wanted to prove that he indeed had vision and was man enough for the job. So for his Inaugural Address he refused to wear a coat in the freezing weather and laid out a vision for the future in a speech that lasted an hour and forty minutes. Because of the overexposure to the elements, Harrison caught pneumonia and died that April.

So even though we westsiders might not be the brightest bunch of people, at least one of our own was President . . . for a month.