What Happened in the United States Presidential Election of 1840?

In the presidential election of 1840, Martin Van Buren unsuccessfully tried to win a second term, losing to William Henry Harrison. Harrison ran on the Whig ticket using the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," referencing the candidate's military career as well as his vice presidential candidate, John Tyler. Harrison received 52.9 percent of the vote and 234 electoral votes, while the Democrat Van Buren received 46.8 percent and 60, respectively.

At 68, Harrison was the oldest president-elect until Ronald Reagan in 1980. His advanced age was a factor in his brief term in office. After taking the oath of office on March 4, 1841, he fell ill three weeks later, and died on April 4. He became the first United States president to die in office, and as of 2014 holds the record for shortest term in office. 1841 was also the only year in history that saw three presidents, with Van Buren serving in January and February, Harrison serving in March, and Tyler finishing out the year.

The 1840 election was also notable because of the four men who received electoral votes, all four were U.S. presidents. Van Buren, Harrison and Tyler all received votes, and one elector cast his vote for James K. Polk, who would succeed Tyler.