Requesting autograph quotations from notables, and their complying by signing either quotes they made up for the occasion or ones originally articulated by others they admired, was very much a Victorian pastime. Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, and prior to that the closest you would get would be the occasional toast written out and delivered at an event, and then handed to a participant. John Quincy Adams began composing little poems for collectors about 1840-1841, and in the latter part of that decade both Polk and Buchanan accommodated a collector by signing a few quotations the collector had written out. However, the signing of autograph quotations for collectors by sitting, past or future presidents did not begin to appear in any volume until the 1850s, and did not become routine until the Civil War, when Lincoln prepared and signed a few and Andrew Johnson took up the practice in earnest. Thereafter they became more common.
William Henry Harrison was a Christian, and when he wrote his Inaugural Address mentioning the Deity was on his mind. When he delivered the speech on March 4, 1841, it included the following statement: ”I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness; and to that good Being who has blessed us by the gifts of civil and religious freedom, who watched over and prospered the labors of our fathers and has hitherto preserved to us institutions far exceeding in excellence those of any other people, let us unite in fervently commending every interest of our beloved country in all future time."
Autograph quotation signed, Cadiz, Ohio, 8th of July, 1838, in-between his presidential campaigns of 1836 and 1840, being a quote from Abraham Cowley, a noted English poet, who composed it for his great work Essays in the 1660s.
"Enjoy the present hour,
Be thankful for the past,
And neither fear nor wish
Th’ approaches of the last.
W.H. Harrison of North Bend, Ohio."
This is the only autograph quotation signed of Harrison we have ever seen, and our research online and in databases going back 40 years fails to turn up any other earlier in date.