If you want to break the boredom of a late winter Sunday, you could raise a cup of cheer to the memory of President William Henry Harrison, the nation's ninth president, who was sworn into office 171 years ago today.

I'm also certain the details of Harrison's brief tenure as the nation's chief executive — he is better known as an Indian fighter (the Battle of Tippecanoe) and a general in the War of 1812 — are not on the tip of everyone's tongue.

The one thing everyone knows about Harrison is the catchy presidential campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," when Harrison was the Whig Party candidate in the 1840 presidential election with his running mate, John Tyler.

But who cares if Harrison shares presidential obscurity with the likes of Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford B. Hayes, and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison? It's still an excuse for a party today.

Get out the cider. (More about that later.)

The first myth that goes out the window is that Harrison was a rugged frontiersman who was born and raised in a log cabin.

That still seems to be a staple of American politics, the humble beginnings and up-by-the-bootstraps story that is supposed to help a candidate appear as a "common man" and win votes in the process.

Actually, Harrison was an American aristocrat who was named partially for England's King Henry III, an ancestor.

He was born Feb. 9, 1773, the son of Benjamin Harrison, a wealthy Charles County, Va., planter, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a former Virginia governor.

He briefly attended Hampden-Sydney College and dropped out to study medicine in Philadelphia. After his father died in 1791, he abandoned his medical studies and enlisted in the Army. He served as aide-de-camp in the Northwest Territory to Revolutionary War Gen. Anthony "Mad Anthony" Wayne while fighting numerous battles with Indians.

He was appointed secretary to the Northwest Territory by President John Adams, and later served as the territory's governor.

Harrison stepped onto the national stage when he successfully led the militia in repulsing an attack by the Shawnee at Tippecanoe on Nov. 7, 1811. A year later, with the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was commissioned a brigadier general and was responsible for protecting the Northwest frontier.

During a battle in 1813 against a united British and Indian force, Harrison's troops killed Shawnee Chief Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames in Ontario.

He left the Army in 1816, resigned his commission, and settled into the life of a gentleman farmer in North Bend, Ohio.

Harrison briefly filled a congressional vacancy in 1816, and after being defeated in his bid for a full term, successfully ran for the Ohio Senate, where he served for six years.

In 1825, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, and resigned three years later to become U.S. minister to Colombia. After Andrew Jackson was elected, Harrison was recalled, and he returned home to his farm.

Harrison ran for president in 1836 against Martin Van Buren and lost, then returned in 1840 and won.

A Baltimore newspaper portrayed him as a frontiersman whose preferred activity was sitting on the porch of his log cabin, swilling hard cider all day long, back when that was the national beverage of choice.

This portrayal gave Harrison's campaign handlers an idea, and they began holding rallies with log cabins and plenty of jugs of hard cider that made their way through the exuberant crowd, which grew more exuberant with each swig of the elixir.