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President William Henry Harrison

Son of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence

We admit of no Government by divine right, believing that so far as power is concerned the Beneficent Creator has made no distinction amongst men; that all are upon an equality, and that the only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.  (From Wm. H. Harrison’s Inaugeral Address, March 4, 1841

In the life and death of William Henry Harrison, James R. Patrick1 gives us a glimpse of one of our Christian Presidents.  His having been sworn into office in the month of March, I thought it appropriate to bring you some excerpts from Patrick’s article.

William Henry Harrison has the distinction of being America's first President to die in office and to serve the shortest term in the executive chair. He was sworn into office on March 4, 1841, and died exactly one month later on April 4, 1841. He also has the distinction of giving the longest inaugural address, which took one hour and forty minutes to deliver. In addition to these things, he has the distinction of being the last President to be elected to office whose father signed the Declaration of Independence. (John Quincy Adams was the only other President who shared this distinction.)

Due to his untimely death and limited time in office, William Henry Harrison is greatly overlooked in the history books.  Historians barely mention his name, and thus, he is a man who has been underestimated and forgotten by the masses.  This is unfortunate, for his family heritage gave him a very good understanding of constitutional law and this is clearly spelled out in his inaugural address.  In fact, his inaugural address is one of the best ever delivered.  In eternity, we will have the veil removed. and we will understand the mind and purpose of God.

We shall understand why some men are set up and other men are removed. In the meantime, we must simply trust the providence and wisdom of God....

(H)e, like Jackson, realized that the Constitution limited the power of the federal government to that which was granted by the states and that the states retained all power and rights that were not clearly given over to the federal government.  If one were to carefully study William Henry Harrison's inaugural address, he would be struck by his clarity of thought.  He seemed to have the ability to discern from whence the future troubles of the country would arise.  Briefly, I would like to point out the following things that weighed upon his mind.

(President Harrison) recognized the natural depravity of man in that a candidate will often make pledges and promises to obtain an office of trust, but once elected, he fails to keep the promises that were made.  This truth is as old as man and was clearly understood by the Founding Fathers....

(He) was fully aware of the dangers of sectionalism.  He realized that the continued effort to advance one section of the nation over that of another could only breed dissension and strife, which would eventually divide the nation and tear it asunder....  Little did he realize that (this would lead to the Civil War).

Finally, William Henry Harrison understood the necessity of the Christian religion as the foundational base of a free society.  Unlike future leaders who would use the argument of separation of the church and state as a means to muzzle the Christian influence, he fully realized that the First Amendment was a restriction on the government and not on the individual's right to believe and practice his Christian beliefs.  He stated:

I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time.


Footnotes:

1. "Foundations of Liberty" by James R. Patrick, published by MacArthur Institute, 900 46th Avenue, East Moline, Illinois  61244-4406.  (Back to article)


Reviews

Posted 05/23/2006 by Dave Richardson

Amazing article...  I wrote a report when I was a little kid on this President (before I knew the Lord) I found some of these same facts, and dismissed them as non-sense.  Now, knowing Jesus, this is encouraging and uplifting to see my Lord working through the founders and the sustainers of America.  May Jesus continue to bring leaders of integrity, boldness, and godliness to rule and lead this nation.

Dave Richardson


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