Rembrandt Peale (1778–1860)
Oil on canvas, c. 1813
The Battle of Tippecanoe, which took place in the Indiana Territory in 1811, is often called the “premature outbreak” to the War of 1812. As governor of the territory, William Henry Harrison faced increased resistance from Indian tribes forced from their homes by new settlers. Harrison met with Shawnee leader Tecumseh at a council that nearly ended in violence and led in part to Tecumseh’s alliance with the British during the subsequent war.
With tensions rising, Tecumseh’s brother Tenskwatawa attacked Harrison’s forces near Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811. The surprise strike resulted in heavy casualties for Harrison, but the battle ended as a draw. In retaliation, Harrison destroyed Tecumseh’s stronghold, Prophet’s Town, and commanded the American forces at the Battle of the Thames, where Tecumseh was killed. Harrison resigned his commission in 1814, but in 1840 the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” propelled him to the presidency. He died a month after taking office.