Don’t expect William Henry Harrison to do you any favors

Spoiler Alert: This post contains spoilers regarding the outcome of the War of 1812. If you have not yet seen this war and don’t want the ending ruined for you, proceed with caution.

My smoldering annoyance with William Henry Harrison burst into open flame recently. You see, we couldn’t find New Baby’s birth certificate. Our natural reaction was to curse the name of the late Mr. Harrison.

No friend fo mine

William Henry Harrison: trouble maker. I’ve taken the precaution of blocking him on Facebook.

History buffs may recall that old Billy Harrison was President of the United States for 32 days, or even that he was governor of Indiana during its short pants youth as a territory, before it grew up into mature statehood.

Those are fine accomplishments, if you’re into that. But I will always remember William H. Harrison as the commander of US forces at the Battle of the Thames. This battle took place in southern Ontario in 1813. The good news, if you are cheering for the US in the War of 1812, is that Harrison’s army won the day. The bad news is that it didn’t do a thing to lessen the amount of paperwork needed to cart a family, by the most direct route, from Michigan to New York in 2014.

But it could have.

The Thames battle site is right in the middle of that aggravating little strip of Canada that hangs down into the Great Lakes between Detroit and Buffalo. In 1813, Harrison won control of that area. He could have stayed there and maybe moved the border crossings off to the north so that we could scoot through without having to wait in line to reveal to a complete stranger the intimate details of our vacation plans. Then we wouldn’t have had to turn the house upside down searching for a single slip of paper we had no hope of finding. In the end, we wouldn’t have had to drive through Ohio and add hours to our already too long road trip.

War of 1812

The area in question is the off-white bit that separates the Michigan Territory from New York. The battlefield is the dot marked #4.

Harrison could have accomplish these great things, but he didn’t. He packed up his army and went home. He probably didn’t even give a single thought to the inconvenience this would cause me and my family. I begin to think he did it out of spite.

We collected all the boys’ birth certificates in anticipation of pleasant encounters with border guards. On the morning of departure, Big Brother’s was there; Buster’s was there, but New Baby’s was missing. This odd disappearance might as well be blamed on Harrison’s ghost as anybody else. Why he carries his vendetta beyond the grave I don’t’ know.

As we were standing still amidst Cleveland road construction I conceded that he’d won this round.

Death of Tecumseh

Another result of the battle: Tecumseh was transformed from feared Shawnee war chief to popular lawnmower engine. (Currier & Ives)

Serious historians may suggest that my animosity toward Harrison is misplaced. After all, the Treaty of Ghent restored the original boundaries, regardless of the placement of armies at the close of hostilities. So even if he had homesteaded southern Ontario, it wouldn’t have made any difference to me. The historians may be right, and this is why I’m also pissed off at the negotiators who approved the Treaty of Ghent. They were jerks too.

Come on, Canada. Let’s deal. There must be something you’d take in trade for the right-of-way between Michigan and New York. I think we have some nice tropical islands: sun, sand, and surf; and you wouldn’t even need a passport. Think about it. Call me.

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24 comments on “Don’t expect William Henry Harrison to do you any favors

  1. pieterk515 says:

    Seeing that they already gave you the Bieber, I think you have legitimate claim.

  2. tom w says:

    In college my friends and I often traveled to Windsor for the “cultural actvities”. All you needed was a driver’s license and most of the time they never asked for that. Without that strip of Canada, I am not sure what we would have done (no internet in those days). When the “culture” was exceptionally good, someone from our group would yell “Tippy Canoe and Tyler too”. Then we would drink a sip of beer in Bill’s honor.

  3. I always did have a bad feeling about Harrison. I could never put my finger on why, but clearly this must have been it.

  4. Lynn says:

    Tropical islands are foreign to us Canucks & Pieter is right, we did already give you Bieber, after all. I call that a fair trade in exchange for the right-of-way between Michigan & New York.

  5. A. van Nerel says:

    I’m pretty sure Canada held on to that little strip of land because they wanted to have a good view of the Niagara Falls. Only reason why Canada drops south so much that makes sense to me. That, or Harrison was a jerk. Or maybe the Treaty of Ghent negotiators and Harrison had never been to Niagara Falls.

  6. yearstricken says:

    In spite of the spoiler, I went ahead and read this. Now when the movie comes out I’ll know the outcome, but it was worth it. 🙂

  7. I think the entire world could use some border rearranging. I think we trade Texas and Alaska for bits of Canada that we like.

  8. He surely was the worst president ever, current and last excluded.

    I sort of am pro-anything that makes getting to NY harder. It seems like an awful place. Did your wife say, “this wouldn’t be happening had we flown” and “I told you so” a thousand times? Lol, she should have. Those birth certificates are never there when you need them though, that’s for sure. Or if they are, it’s the two you won’t need and the third one you’re looking for is missing. What’s up with that?

    • Most people from other places think of NY as skyscrapers and crowds, but my NY is mountains and lakes. Hard to imagine, I know. And since the wife was kinda in charge of keeping the birth certificates, she didn’t give me any trouble about it. So now we need to order a new one before we lose the other two.

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