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Benjamin Harrison

— 23rd President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery

 

ELECTED FROM: Indiana
POLITICAL PARTY:
Republican
TERM:
March 4, 1889 to March 3, 1893

BORN: August 20, 1833
BIRTHPLACE:
North Bend, Ohio
DIED:
March 13, 1901, Indianapolis, Indiana
OCCUPATION:
Lawyer
MARRIED:
Caroline Scott, 1853;
Mary Scott Dimmick, 1896
CHILDREN:
Russell, Mary, Elizabeth

Because he was the grandson of ninth president William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison entered the White House with the high hopes of the country upon his shoulders. He left four years later with nicknames like "the human iceberg" and a place in history as one of the less capable presidents.

Harrison grew up in rural Ohio, just outside Cincinnati. He seemed destined for greatness, if for no other reason than heredity. Aside from having a grandfather as president, Harrison's great-grandfather (also named Benjamin) was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. His father, John Scott Harrison, was a member of the United States Congress.The family trait of service was carried on by Benjamin Harrison's grandson, who served in the Wyoming state legislature.

Harrison grew up as a farmboy. He hauled wood and water, did the dishes, and fed the livestock. For fun he hunted, fished, swam, and visited his grandfather's estate nearby.

Harrison learned reading, writing, and arithmetic from tutors at his home. His first teacher said he was the "brightest of the family" and "determined to go ahead in everything."She also added that he was "stubborn about many things."

Harrison attended Farmer's College from 1847 to 1850 and graduated near the top of his class. He went on to work and study at a Cincinnati law firm and was admitted to the bar in 1854.

He became known as a "soldier's legislator" for his support of Civil War veterans' pensions during his term as U.S. Senator from 1881 to 1887.

His campaign for the presidency against Cleveland will go down as one of the closest. Cleveland actually won the popular vote by a 49 to 48 percent margin. Harrison, however, won the states with the most electoral votes.

He was defeated in his bid for reelection by former president Cleveland. Analysts of the day said the single biggest cause of Harrison's loss was the implementation of the McKinley Tariff act of 1890. This lesiglation set the tariff rates for import goods from other countries at a whopping 48 percent, thereby raising the price to consumers for retail products.

Harrison died of pneumonia on March 13, 1901 at the age of 67.


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