WHIG Convention -1839
In its effort to defeat the incumbent Democrat Martin Van Buren, the Whig Party decided to hold a presidential nominating convention in Harrisburg at the end of 1839.  The only building available that was large enough to serve their needs was the newly re-constructed Zion Lutheran Church.  Meeting here December 4-7, 1839, the convention resulted in the nomination of William Henry Harrison of Ohio for president and John Tyler of Virginia for Vice President.  A disparaging remark against Harrison concerning a log cabin and hard cider was spun by his campaign into a winning slogan, casting him as a man of the people.
 
Visitors to Zion can see where the actual convention took place, along with several artifacts relating to the 1839 convention and the campaign of 1840. 
 
In 2016, C-SPAN came to Harrisburg for its “Cities Tour” series.  Aired in January 2017, Zion was fortunate to be featured in a segment with local historian Howard Parker as he recounted the Whig Convention held here in 1839.  The segment can be found at www.c-span.org/citiestour . 
 


175TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WHIG NATIONAL CONVENTION 
Saturday, December 6, 2014  2:00pm-4:00pm
*Presentaion by local historian Howard Parker
*Tour of 2nd floor sanctuary where it all took place
*Period music, both seasonal and patriotic
*Displays of actual campaign, conventionand mid-19thCentury items
*Reception to end the event
*Validated parking at Chestnut Street Garage
 
Featured Speaker Howard J. Parker
 
Howard Parker is a local historian, reenactor, and long-time docent at the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion. He has portrayed Thomas Elder, 19th century Harrisburg attorney, bank president, entrepreneur, and behind the scenes politician, at “An Evening with Thomas Elder” at the Harris-Cameron Mansion, at the anniversary commemoration at the historic Peace Church, and at events held by the Historical Society of Dauphin County. He is working on a book recounting the pivotal role of central Pennsylvanians in the watershed presidential election of 1840 including the Whig Convention at Zion Lutheran Church.