He was the son of a Founding Father, a general in the Indian Wars and in the War of 1812, Governor of the Indian Territory and a Representative and later a Senator from Ohio. And on a March morning in 1841, in our nation's capital, William Henry Harrison was inaugurated "ninth President of these United States!"
Harrison was born and attended college in Virginia. He fought Indians in Ohio and Indiana. He defeated Tecumseh in Canada. He was foreign minister to Colombia. And he spent many years in Washington.
But as rich as this experience was, Harrison's life was defined and forever altered by the time he spent in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, at Penn.
It's true. "Old Tippacanoe" was a Quaker, a med student, and a Sigma Nu (Class of 1791 . Who said Sigma Nu never had any cool guys?).
Many details of Harrison's Red and Blue period are highly contested. University Archivist Mark Frazier Lloyd believes Harrison "did not graduate. He was only here for about six months - one semester - and then he dropped out."
Even if Lloyd is telling the truth, there would be only one member of the "USPs from UP" Facebook group, and we've abandoned him. We've left Harrison in the freezing rain of forgotten heroes without his hat and coat.
And in his place, Penn celebrates a man who liked kites. A man who wore glasses. A man whose close friends once found his stench so repulsive that they asked him to leave their home after only three days.
So what if he invented electricity? Ben Franklin, Mr. "I'm a renowned author, inventor, politician, philosopher, publisher, scientist, civic activist and diplomat who signed all four founding documents of the United States and created two universities, including this one" is stealing the limelight from our true star.
Penn has ignored President Harrison when they should claim him with pride.
But, "what's the purpose of promoting the Harrison legacy?" inquired Marie Sullivan, a sophomore in the College, as she tried to run away from my tape recorder.
Marie, Harvard may have an Adams, an Adams, a Hayes, a Roosevelt, a Roosevelt and a Kennedy. Harvard may even have a Bush. But Penn has William Henry Harrison, a man-god. His name is never spoken.
Struggling to find something to do on a classless Tuesday, and trying to give Harrison his due, I contacted Penn's administration. My noble effort, however, was thwarted.
President Gutmann never answered. Dean Stetson was "unable to comment." The medical school didn't reply. No one would talk to me in a serious manner.
"I've gotten a lot of dumb calls from the DP but this is without doubt the dumbest," said Mike Mahoney, spokesman for Penn Athletics.
I was stunned at my sour reception, and searched for an explanation. First, I thought that Penn, a liberal, elite, ivory-towered intellegencia farm for card-carrying Democratic voters, was anti-Harrison because it's anti-Whig. But though that was certainly plausible, something still did not sit right.
Suddenly, a vision! A vision of a mourning nation, of a lost dream, of a fallen leader. In my mind I saw President Harrison, lying dead of pneumonia only a month after taking the oath of office. And then, like Notsradamus, I realized the terrible truth.
For almost 170 years, the University of Pennsylvania has been conspiring to hide its roll in the death of the ninth President of the United States.
"Harrison went to the med school, right?" reasoned College senior Emily Goldman. "Then, 50 years later he dies from pneumonia. Why? Because the then-68 year old doesn't wear a hat or coat during his two-hour, 8,400-word presidential address in the freezing March rain.
"I think it's safe to say, without spreading libel, that the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine assassinated William Henry Harrison."
Every staff member of this university is implicated in the murder, from President Gutmann to Mark "Cover-up" Lloyd.
Do not think you will escape justice. You will be made to pay.
President Harrison, a man whose legend flows through American folklore like ethics through Wharton grads, died 164 years, nine months and 12 days ago today. He was a student killed by his teachers.
His dying words were "Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more."
And in his last breath, "Et tu, Penne?"
Alex Weinstein is a College senior from Bridgeport, W.Va. His e-mail address is email@example.com. Straight to Hell appears on Thursdays.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.