Ann Tuthill Symmes Harrison
July 25, 1775, in Morristown, New Jersey
February 25, 1864, in North Bend, Ohio
Anna Harrison officially became first lady upon her husband’s (William Henry Harrison) inauguration in 1841, but she never actually lived in the White House. Anna did not travel to Washington for her husband’s inauguration because she had been sick and decided to stay behind in Ohio until the cold winter weather had passed. Harrison asked his daughter-in-law Jane Irwin Harrison, who had been widowed three years earlier, to serve as first lady until Anna arrived. Unfortunately, just one month after Harrison took office, he died of pneumonia. Anna was actually packing for her trip to the White House when she received the news that her husband had died.
Anna was the first first lady to have been formally educated. She attended two schools in New York City, including a boarding school. She was 65 years old when her husband became president, making her the oldest of all first ladies. Like Martha Washington, Anna never lived in the White House. Furthermore, Anna never even traveled to Washington, D.C. In addition to being the wife of a president, Anna was also the grandmother of a president, Benjamin Harrison. Anna was the first widow of a president to be awarded a pension. Soon after Harrison’s death, Congress allocated to her a one-time stipend of $25,000, which was the same as the president’s salary at that time.
Anna did not support her husband’s decision to run for president and commented upon his nomination, “I wish that my husband’s friends had left him where he is, happy and contented in retirement.”