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Jane Harrison

Jane Harrison

Jane Harrison (1804–1847)
Born Mercersburg, Pennsylvania

Little is known about President William Henry Harrison’s daughter-in-law, Jane Findlay Irwin Harrison, who served as the official White House hostess for a very brief period in 1841. She had lived with her in-laws following the death of her husband, William Henry Harrison Jr., and accompanied the president-elect to Washington, D.C. There, she received glowing reviews for the two receptions that she hosted with the help of her aunt, Jane Irwin Findlay. Her time as de-facto first lady was cut short, however, when President Harrison died on April 4, 1841, after only a month in office.

With flowers placed at each ear and a veil pulled back from her face, this portrait was probably made to celebrate Jane Harrison’s second marriage, to widower Lewis Whiteman, following her return to North Bend, Ohio. Just a few years later, she succumbed to tuberculosis at age forty-two.

Unidentified artist

Oil on canvas, c. 1841–42

Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History; gift of Barbara B. Rose