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Benjamin Harrison
Pach Brothers - Benjamin Harrison.jpg
23rd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 3, 1893
Vice President Levi P. Morton
Preceded by Grover Cleveland
Succeeded by Grover Cleveland
United States Senator
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1881 – March 4, 1887
Preceded by Joseph McDonald
Succeeded by David Turpie
Personal details
Born (1833-08-20)August 20, 1833
North Bend, Ohio
Died March 13, 1901(1901-03-13) (aged 67)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Cause of death Influenza-related pneumonia
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouses Caroline Scott Harrison (1st wife)
Mary Scott Lord Dimmick (2nd wife)

Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833–March 13, 1901) was the 23rd president of the United States (1889-1893). He was the grandson of President William Henry Harrison and the only grandson of a president to himself become president. His home was in Indianapolis, Indiana.

He was a member of the Republican party and was elected to the White House in 1888, beating the incumbent, Grover Cleveland. After Harrison served one full four-year term as president, Cleveland ran again and, this time, beat Harrison.

During the American Civil War Harrison was a colonel in the Union Army (later a brevet brigadier general).

He was also a successful lawyer, arguing many cases before the United States Supreme Court.

Early life

Harrison was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio, the second of Elizabeth Ramsey (Irwin) and John Scott Harrison's ten children.

Harrison was a grandson of U.S. President William Henry Harrison and a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a Virginia planter who signed the Declaration of Independence and succeeded Thomas Nelson, Jr. as governor of Virginia.

Harrison's boyhood was enjoyable, much of it spent outdoors fishing or hunting.

Harrison's early schooling took place in a log cabin near his home, but his parents later arranged for a tutor to help him with college preparatory studies. He then went to college.

Early career and marriage

Brigadier General Harrison (left) with other commanders of the XX Corps, 1865

After his college graduation in 1852, Harrison studied law with Judge Bellamy Storer of Cincinnati, but before he completed his studies, he returned to Oxford, Ohio, to marry Caroline Scott on October 20, 1853.

The Harrisons had two children, Russell Benjamin Harrison (August 12, 1854 – December 13, 1936) and Mary "Mamie" Scott Harrison (April 3, 1858 – October 28, 1930).

Harrison began practicing law in 1854.

From 1862 - 1865 he served as a Union Army commander in the American Civil War.

Harrison served as a senator for Indiana from March 4, 1881, to March 3, 1887.

Presidency (1889–1893)

Harrison-inauguration (edit)
Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison, March 4, 1889. Cleveland held Harrison's umbrella.

Benjamin Harrison as president wanted to increase tariffs (a tax on goods that come into the country) for two reasons:

  • First, it gave more money to the U.S. government, so it could fund important things.
  • Second, because he believed in protectionism. He thought a high tariff would encourage Americans to make more of their own things instead of buying them from foreign countries.

Harrison spent the money received from the tariffs to give money to injured American Civil War veterans.

Harrison was the first president to have a billion dollar budget for the government. People criticized him for that.

He also signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act which gave the U.S. government the power to regulate big businesses.

His first wife Carrie Harrison died in 1892.

Technology and naval modernization

USS Texas2
USS Texas, America's first battleship, built in 1892

During Harrison's time in office, the United States was continuing to experience advances in science and technology. A recording of his voice is the earliest extant recording of a president while he was in office. That was originally made on a wax phonograph cylinder in 1889 by Gianni Bettini. Harrison also had electricity installed in the White House for the first time by Edison General Electric Company, but he and his wife would not touch the light switches for fear of electrocution and would often go to sleep with the lights on.

Over the course of his administration, Harrison marshaled the country's technology to clothe the nation with a credible naval power. When he took office there were only two commissioned warships in the Navy. In his inaugural address he said, "construction of a sufficient number of warships and their necessary armaments should progress as rapidly as is consistent with care and perfection." Harrison's Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy spearheaded the rapid construction of vessels, and within a year congressional approval was obtained for building of the warships Indiana, Texas, Oregon, and Columbia. By 1898, with the help of the Carnegie Corporation, no less than ten modern warships, including steel hulls and greater displacements and armaments, had transformed the United States into a legitimate naval power. Seven of these had begun during the Harrison term.

States admitted to the Union

More states were admitted during Harrison's presidency than any other. They are:

Post-presidency and death (1893–1901)

Grave of President Benjamin Harrison and his two wives in Indianapolis, Indiana
Grave of President Harrison and his two wives in Indianapolis, Indiana

In 1896, Harrison at age 62 remarried, to Mary Scott Lord Dimmick. Benjamin and Mary had one child together, Elizabeth (February 21, 1897 – December 26, 1955).

Harrison died from pneumonia at his home in Indianapolis on March 13, 1901, at the age of 67. Harrison's remains are interred in Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery, next to the remains of his first wife, Caroline. After her death in 1948, Mary Dimmick Harrison, his second wife, was buried beside him.


Harrison was memorialized on several postage stamps. The first was a 13-cent stamp issued on November 18, 1902, with the engraved likeness of Harrison modeled after a photo provided by his widow. In all Harrison has been honored on six U.S. Postage stamps, more than most other U.S. Presidents. Harrison also was featured on the five-dollar National Bank Notes from the third charter period, beginning in 1902. In 2012, a dollar coin with his image, part of the Presidential $1 Coin Program, was issued.

In 1908, the people of Indianapolis erected the Benjamin Harrison memorial statue, created by Charles Niehaus and Henry Bacon, in honor of Harrison's lifetime achievements as military leader, U.S. Senator, and President of the United States. The statue occupies a site on the south edge of University Park, facing the Birch Bayh Federal Building and United States Courthouse across New York Avenue.

In 1951, Harrison's home was opened to the public as a library and museum. It had been used as a dormitory for a music school from 1937 to 1950. The house was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964.

Interesting facts about Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison 1903 Issue-13c
The 1st Harrison stampIssue of 1902
  • Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States
  • He was the first president of the United States to use electricity in the White House.
  • Harrison was seven years old when his grandfather William Henry Harrison was elected U.S. president, but he did not attend the inauguration.
  • He had a few nicknames but the most famous was “The Human Iceberg” because he had a stiff and cold personality.
  • He was obsessed with germs and always wore gloves when he was shaking hands with people.
  • When he was elected in 1889 he was known as the “Centenial President” because it was 100 years since George Washington had first become President in 1789.

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See also

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