Talk:William Henry Harrison/GA1

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GA Review[edit]

I am reviewing this article. Detailed comments will follow soon. Brianboulton (talk) 11:52, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Here are some preliminary points:-

  • Lead: I have corrected "Columbia" to "Colombia" in the lead, and have improved the link to presidential succession. I have also inserted extra commas as necessary.
  • To get rid of the large white space under the "Early military career" subheading, you need to relocate the image William H. Harrison.jpg to under the "Congressman" heading. This is actually a more appropriate location, since the image is apparently dated 1800, when his congressional career began.
    • done
  • I note that the formats of virtually all your in-text citations are incorrect. The correct form is (e.g.) "Hall, p. 2" or "Hall, pp. 10–12" using the ndash in the page range. You have also constantly misspelt Whiting as "Whitting".
    • done

I am now working through the text, more comments soon.

Brianboulton (talk) 15:30, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

Well, you responded quickly to the above. Here is a bit more.

  • Early life
    • The section title is a misnomer. It's much more about family background. I recommend you change the title to "Family background and childhood". Burwell Bassett should be described as “Congressman”.
      • done
    • The education details are inaccurate. This may be from a poor selection of sources – citation [4] is to a particularly weak source ("White House Kids"). Please consult a reliable source. I think you will find that Harrison briefly studied medicine under Benjamin Rush in Pennsylvania, during the 1790-91 period; he did not study medicine at Hampden-Sydney College.
      • done - And a bit more added from using Union 1812 as a source.
    • His mother had not died "years earlier”". She actually died in 1792, a year after his father’s death. Check with a reliable source.
      • done
  • Early military career.
    • The following references do not appear to support the statements for which they are citations: [6] Hall, p. 28; [7] Hall, p. 21; [8] Hall, p. 22; [10] Hall, p. 44; [11] Hall, p. 53; [12] Hall, p. 54.
      • replaced
    • Harrison's verbatim quote about drunkenness, and the information about four-fifths of deaths due to alcohol, are not cited anywhere.
    • removed

On a more general note, ancient sources such as Hall, Whiting, and Burr should be treated with great caution. Historians weren’t too bothered with accurate detail in those days, and were often pursuing a subjective agenda—Hall’s history reads like a paean of praise to Harrison. There must, surely, be more modern histories against which you could check your facts?

Brianboulton (talk) 16:53, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

I agree about the older sources, I've only used those to establish dates and events. For the things open to interpretation like his presidency and governorship i've used more modern sources. Strangely, I've been unable to find much recently published information on his early life. Charles Edward 17:42, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I am going to head to the libary to try and find a couple new books on WHH with which to reference anything that may be lacked. Charles Edward 18:50, 19 June 2008 (UTC)
I've returned with three books that look promising. I am going to proceed to reword the the sections and move them over to reflect the new refs and replace the old ones. Charles Edward 22:19, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

That sounds an excellent idea. Some more review material:

  • Congressman
    • Where does that date March 4, 1799 come from? It’s not in your cited source. My own source (a general reference book called The Book of Presidents) says that he was elected in September 1799, took his seat December 2, resigned May 12. Please check with a reliable source.
      • It would appear we have a discrepancy here. I have one source (the one currently cited) from Congress saying March, and another in a book showing October. I am inclined to beleive Congress's site as they would seem more authoritative.
    • It would be useful to briefly explain Harrison’s position in Congress as a “territorial delegate”. He could present bills, speak, but not vote.
      • done
  • Governor: I’ve tidied up the prose in this section, and dealt with some commas. My chief concern still lies with the sources. [19] Whiting. P. 7, gives hardly any of the information in the section it’s supposed to be citing, and the style of Whiting’s prose is, even more so than Hall’s, of a gushing and uncritical character—it cannot be considered as in any way reliable.
    • new sources are supplied, wording adjusted to reflect it
  • General: In view of what you say above, I won't commenting on the Hall and Whiting sources from now on. I think I’ve made my views on them clear. I have continued to copyedit the text, making minor adjustments.
    • The first brief paragraph of this section, which deals with Tecumseh and Tippecanoe, should be expanded to form a section of its own, perhaps entitled "Tecumseh and Tippecanoe". Tippecanoe was, after all, the pivotal point of Harrison’s career, and it propelled him to the presidency. It’s worth some more mileage. The section called "Tecumseh’s curse" could be merged to form a final paragraph of the Tecumseh and Tippecanoe section.
      • done
    • When you say "Harrison was authorized to march against the confederation…" who authorized him?
      • done - Secretary of war
    • The remainder of the "General" section should be retitled "Army General" (the word “general” on its own is a bit misleading).
      • done
    • Harrison didn’t "resign from the army" and return to his governorship. He merely delayed accepting his appointment as a brigadier-general in the US army for a few days, until he was appointed north-west commander in place of Winchester. He was promoted to major-general on March 2 1813.
      • done
I've found a good book on his military career and reworded the military section to reflect the new source and removed the old refs. I've also sectionized Tecumseh as you suggested. I can make it bigger if you think it should be. I also addressed the other two comments. Charles Edward 22:18, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

My remaining review comments follow. I'll wait for you to have a stab at these before I say more.

  • Tecumseh’s curse: As a matter of interest, why is it Tecumseh’s curse, when it was laid by his brother? And is it part of the myth that the Prophet somehow knew that Harrison would be elected president in 1840?
    • That s just what the reference called it. Probable cause know one can say his brother's name.. haha. And the whole this is most likely made up after Harrison died, i find it pretty hard to believe otherwise.
  • Senator and Ambassador: this section should be called "Congressman, Senator and Ambassador"
    • Can you confirm 8 October 1816 as the start of his US congressional career – seems an odd date.
      • he was elected to fill the term of a dead congressman, so it was midterm. Date is on the congressional bio.
    • Have you got a source for his unsuccessful attempt at the Ohio governorship?
      • source is congressional bio, done
        • The "Senator and Ambassador" title is wrong; this section deals with time in the House of Representatives, Ohio state senate and an unsuccessful run for governor, as well as his senate and ambassadorial roles. On thinking about it, rather than adopting my earlier suggestion I think you should retitle the section "Public Office", and incorporate into it the first stray sentence dealing with his appointment as an Indian commissioer. N.B. this sentence has a reminder on it to improve sources. Brianboulton (talk) 10:12, 20 June 2008 (UTC)
          • Changed, done
  • Private Citizen
    • Do you have a title and publication details for the Dawson biography?
      • Couldn't find it, removed statement.
    • His 1836 run for the presidency should not be dismissed so briefly. Here are the results:
        • Martin Van Buren (Democrat) 764, 198 votes, electoral college 150 (15 states)
        • William Henry Harrison (Whig) 549, 508 votes, electoral college 73 (7 states)
        • Hugh Lawson White (Whig) 145, 352 votes, electoral college 26 (2 states)
        • Daniel Webster (Whig) 41,287 votes, electoral college 14 (1 state)
        • Others: electoral college 11 (1 state)
        • It can be deduced from the above figures that the chief factor in Harrison’s loss was the split in his party – three separate Whig candidates. There’s a story here that should at least be touched on, in any article on Harrison’s life. The campaign poster of Harrison is from the 1836 campaign.
          • I wrote a section on this campaign using a couple of online sources.
  • 1840 election campaign: this section is OK, except that its appearance is ruined by the images. If you do as I suggest and write a short section on the 1836 election, then the portrait poster can go into that, leaving the poster of accomplishments, somewhat reduced in size, with the 1840 election. That should improve appearances. Incidentally, it reads oddly that the result was a landslide, but the popular vote was very close. You must qualify, and say a landslide in electoral college terms (234 to 60), and much close in the popular vote (53% to 47%).
    • shrunk image, i am going to work on an 1836 election section.


  • Shortest presidency: this section is OK after some copyedits. The sentence about the daguerreotype looks out of place in the middle – would be better placed at the end.
    • I moved it to the legacy section
  • Legacy
    • Tyler was a Whig who abandoned the Whig agenda, and was disowned by his party. He was not a "long-time Democrat".
      • according to the ref [1], tyler was a democrat until 1832 and became a whig in 1834., i will add that in.
        • OK, he was a "former Democrat" rather than a "long-time Democrat". The text should clarify this.
          • done
    • How did the principle of presidential succession established by Tyler change after 1963?
      • The 1963 amendment dealt with the finer points of succession by clearly defining in what situations the Vice President was Acting President and in what situation he could become President, - None of those situation have ever happened - so really it didn't change anything so much as it clearly outlined the the procedures.
    • The trivia about Benjamin Harrison’s umbrella could easily be omitted.
      • removed
    • The section peters out into a series of single-sentence paragraphs. These might be combined in some way, with a bit of forceful prose, to make a suitable ending to the article.
      • reorganized it a bit, i think it looks better

Finally, in an article on a president I would expect to find the following information:-

  • Date of marriage
  • Minimal information on wife’s family background
  • Number of children (ten, since you ask, 6 sons and 4 daughters)
    • I located a good amount of info and have added it, I could not locate Anna's date of death, but will keep looking.
      • Anna died 25 February 1864, aged 88. I have included this in the text. Brianboulton (talk) 16:19, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

To summarise where I think we stand, assuming that the above fixes are made: The prose isn’t bad now, it's pretty comprehensive, its neutral and stable. The referencing is the main outstanding problem, so let’s work on that. I may also come up with a few other ideas for improving the article.

Cheers! Brianboulton (talk) 22:34, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

P.S. Can you write "done" after each point as it is dealt with, so that I can keep track? Thanks. Brianboulton (talk) 22:37, 19 June 2008 (UTC)

I am going to leave the Hall source for the info on Harrisons time in columbia, the dates are backed up by the congressional bio, but I cannot find any other source that establishes what happened there. I am also leaving burr for the references to his return to private life for the same reason, i cannot find another source on those years. All the other references from whitting, burr and hall have been removed. If you think the sources are not good enough I can try to pare down those sections to reflect what can be established without them - not much other than the basic info.
The new sources you have introduced look a lot moe authoratitive. If you should take this article to FAC, however, you may find further challenges on sources.
Thanks for your very thorough review! I agree referencing is the primary issue, I think I have corrected most (not all) of that now. I have also addressed some of the other issues. There are a few left - I will need to do a bit of reading before I can properly add the other information. I will try to get to the rest tommorrow. Charles Edward 03:38, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

Remaining issues

  • A paragraph on the 1836 presidential bid
  • consider reducing the 1840 image to improve the section's appearance
  • make Tyler a former Democrat
  • incorporate the family details somewhere in the article.

When you have responded to these I will do a final sweep to pick up odd strays in the text. I think you will then have a pretty complete and creditable article. Well done. Brianboulton (talk) 11:53, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

I am doing my final read-through now. The article is in good shape and will pass GA. Brianboulton (talk) 15:55, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

I have completed my review of this article. In my opinion the article now meets all GA citeria. The prose is of good standard, the article is comprehensive, and the referencing now appears adequate, having been significantly improved during the course of this review. There ae no problems with neutrality or stability.

Advice: If the article is to be taken forward to FAC I strongly recommend (a) a thorough copyedit by one of Wikipedia's specialists, (b) a peer review and (c) further attention to references, to weed out and replace any remaining dodgy ones.

Congratulations on a worthy Good Article. Brianboulton (talk) 17:18, 20 June 2008 (UTC)