While doing today’s New York Times crossword puzzle, I came across this clue:
13d. Shortest-serving U.S. vice president (31 days)
Without hesitation I filled in the answer:
That I know that answer and can retrieve it so handily is all because of Gracie Allen. Here’s why.
In 1811 William Henry Harrison became famous for his victory over American Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe, and Tippecanoe became his nickname. So in 1840 when he ran for President of the United States, he used the campaign slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!”, John Tyler being his Vice-Presidential running mate.
Alas, Harrison didn’t get to enjoy his newly won office for very long, as 31 days after his inauguration he succumbed to pneumonia, making his presidency the shortest so far, and consequently Tyler’s the shortest Vice-Presidency.
I could recall Tyler’s name so quickly because the slogan “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” is one of those trivial facts that seems to be burned indelibly in my mind. And the first time I ever heard that slogan was from Gracie Allen in one of her wacky non sequitur replies on an episode of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show from the 1950s. This was long before I had any idea of what that slogan meant.
So thank you, Gracie Allen!