(Passages from Provincial Annals used with permission of Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives)
We continue our series on Presidents and Daughters of Charity with William Henry Harrison, who visited Emmitsburg while campaigning for the presidency in 1836. While in Emmitsburg, he visited the Central House, met with the Sisters and the students at St. Joseph’s Academy, and gave an address. The Provincial Annals of 1836 record some of the details. In the account below, “Mother” refers to Mother Rose White, then the superior of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s.
11th. Tuesday. Rev. Mr. Souring said mass. Gen. Wm Harrison, one of the candidates for the Presidency visited the Institution. Mother had received a note in the morning making know the Gen.’s arrival in town and requesting that attention would be paid him. She accordingly wrote a note inviting him to the vale. He came about 11 o’clock accompanied by Mr. Montgomery, nephew of the last Mrs. Montgomery (of happy memory) of Philadelphia. Mr. McDonough of Phil., Drs. Taney and Dr. Fields of Emmitsburg and others whose names are not know. Mother accompanied them to every part of both houses. They entered the study room, the last were the children were all assembled as the Gen. entered. Miss M. Malloy played Hail Columbia as soon as he was seated. Mrs. C. Schnabel addressed him, the piece having been composed about two hours previous by Rev. Mr. Souring. The Gen. replied, all parties appeared pleased. At parting Mother presented him with a miniature picture of the Redeemer, which had been painted by Miss Miriam Walley. The General proceeded to the Mountain where he was received with every mark of esteem & respect. He as well as those who accompanied him dined there, before the Gen. left St. Joseph’s. He granted holiday to the children.
An address of Welcome to Gen. Wm. H. Harrison by the Srs. of St. Joseph’s, Emmitsburg, MD.
Welcome! Brave Champion of thy Country’s rights! Hope of the friendly in the hour of need; when wild the cry of war arose, how off hast thou undaunted, braved the battle’s shock, to aid, defend, preserve thy Country’s Sons.
Thrice Welcome to our Vale within its calm retreat. Still lives the Memory of deeds of worth achieved by Thee! and those of kindred Soul, who for Columbia’s fame, and liberty & peace have fought and bled Health, Peach & Honor, on their steps attend and may Country’s smile & blessing be to thee but the sweet promise of that perfect bliss with which may Heaven crown our country’s serves, the great, the good, the generous, and brave.
St. Joseph’s, Oct. 11th, 1836
Harrison lost the election of 1836 to Martin Van Buren. Harrison ran again for President in 1840 and won. He did not visit Emmitsburg during the 1840 presidential race, but the Provincial Annals from 1841 do include a passing reference to his inauguration on March 4.
Thursday 4. The great day of inauguration of “Harrison” far removed from the scene of action, we happily are preserved from any of its noise and bustle.
The Provincial Annals also contain a reference to Harrison’s sudden death, barely one month after taking office.
6th, Tuesday. Rain till mass time. Rev. Mr. Flaut said mass. Cleared up at 8. Putting up scaffolding round the steeple for the printers. Report says President Harrison is dead, is it true? …
The report was true. Harrison had caught a cold that developed into pneumonia and had died on April 4, the first President to die while in office. Harrison’s one month in office is still the shortest term of any President.