Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833 – March 13, 1901) was an American politician and lawyer who served as the 23rd president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was a grandson of the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, creating the only grandfather–grandson duo to have held the office. He was also a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father. Before ascending to the presidency, Harrison had established himself as a prominent local attorney, Presbyterian church leader, and politician in Indianapolis, Indiana. During the American Civil War, he served in the Union Army as a colonel, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a brevet brigadier general of volunteers in 1865. Harrison unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana in 1876. The Indiana General Assembly elected Harrison to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1881 to 1887.

A Republican, Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888, defeating the Democratic incumbent, Grover Cleveland. Hallmarks of Harrison's administration included unprecedented economic legislation, including the McKinley Tariff, which imposed historic protective trade rates, and the Sherman Antitrust Act. Harrison also facilitated the creation of the national forest reserves through an amendment to the Land Revision Act of 1891. During his administration six western states were admitted to the Union. In addition, Harrison substantially strengthened and modernized the U.S. Navy and conducted an active foreign policy, but his proposals to secure federal education funding as well as voting rights enforcement for African Americans were unsuccessful.

Due in large part to surplus revenues from the tariffs, federal spending reached one billion dollars for the first time during his term. The spending issue in part led to the defeat of the Republicans in the 1890 mid-term elections. Cleveland defeated Harrison for re-election in 1892, due to the growing unpopularity of the high tariff and high federal spending. Harrison returned to private life and his law practice in Indianapolis. In 1899 Harrison represented the Republic of Venezuela in their British Guiana boundary dispute against the United Kingdom. Harrison traveled to the court of Paris as part of the case and after a brief stay returned to Indianapolis. He died at his home in Indianapolis in 1901 of complications from influenza. Although many have praised Harrison's commitment to African Americans' voting rights, scholars and historians generally regard his administration as below-average, and rank him in the bottom half among U.S. presidents. Historians, however, have not questioned Harrison's commitment to personal and official integrity.

Benjamin Harrison
Pach Brothers - Benjamin Harrison
23rd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893
Vice PresidentLevi P. Morton
Preceded byGrover Cleveland
Succeeded byGrover Cleveland
United States Senator
from Indiana
In office
March 4, 1881 – March 3, 1887
Preceded byJoseph E. McDonald
Succeeded byDavid Turpie
Personal details
BornAugust 20, 1833
North Bend, Ohio, U.S.
DiedMarch 13, 1901 (aged 67)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery
Political partyWhig (before 1856)
Republican (1856–1901)
Caroline Scott
(m. 1853; died 1892)

Mary Scott Lord (m. 1896)
RelativesJohn Scott Harrison (Father)
EducationFarmer's College
Miami University (BA)
Benjamin Harrison's signature
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceSeal of the United States Board of War and Ordnance.svg United States Army
 • Union Army
Years of service1862–1865
RankUnion Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
UnitArmy of the Cumberland
Commands70th Indiana Infantry Regiment
1st Brigade, 1st Division, XX Corps
Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

Family and education

John Scott Harrison

Benjamin Harrison was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio, the second of Elizabeth Ramsey (Irwin) and John Scott Harrison's ten children. His paternal ancestors were the Harrison family of Virginia, whose immigrant ancestor, Benjamin Harrison I, arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, circa 1630 from England. Harrison was of entirely English ancestry, all of his ancestors having emigrated to America during the early colonial period.[1]

The future President 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 Jefferson as governor of Virginia.[2][3][4][a]

Harrison was seven years old when his grandfather was elected U.S. president, but he did not attend the inauguration.[5] Although Harrison's family was distinguished, his parents were not wealthy. John Scott Harrison, a two-term U.S. congressman from Ohio, spent much of his farm income on his children's education.[6][7] Despite the family's modest resources, Harrison's boyhood was enjoyable, much of it spent outdoors fishing or hunting.[8]

Coat of Arms of William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison
Coat of Arms of Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison's early schooling took place in a log cabin near his home,[9] but his parents later arranged for a tutor to help him with college preparatory studies.[10] Fourteen-year-old Harrison and his older brother, Irwin, enrolled in Farmer's College near Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1847.[11] He attended the college for two years [12][b] and while there met his future wife, Caroline "Carrie" Lavinia Scott, a daughter of John Witherspoon Scott, the school's science professor who was also a Presbyterian minister.[13]

In 1850, Harrison transferred to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and graduated in 1852.[14][15] He joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which he used as a network for much of his life. He was also a member of Delta Chi, a law fraternity which permitted dual membership.[16] Classmates included John Alexander Anderson,[17] who became a six-term U.S. congressman, and Whitelaw Reid, Harrison's vice presidential running mate in 1892. At Miami, Harrison was strongly influenced by history and political economy professor Robert Hamilton Bishop.[18] Harrison also joined a Presbyterian church at college and, like his mother, became a lifelong Presbyterian.[19]

Marriage and early career

Benjamin Harrison c1850
Benjamin Harrison c. 1850

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[20] on October 20, 1853. Caroline's father, a Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony.[17] 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).[21]

Harrison and his wife returned to live at The Point, his father's farm in southwestern Ohio, while he finished his law studies. Harrison was admitted to the Ohio bar in early 1854,[22] the same year he sold property that he had inherited after the death of an aunt for $800 (equivalent to $22,308 in 2018), and used the funds to move with Caroline to Indianapolis, Indiana.[23][24] Harrison began practicing law in the office of John H. Ray in 1854 and became a crier for the federal court in Indianapolis, for which he was paid $2.50 per day.[21] He also served as a Commissioner for the U.S. Court of Claims.[25] Harrison became a founding member and first president of both the University Club, a private gentlemen's club in Indianapolis, and the Phi Delta Theta Alumni Club.[26] Harrison and his wife became members and assumed leadership positions at Indianapolis's First Presbyterian Church.[27]

Having grown up in a Whig household, Harrison initially favored that party's politics, but joined the Republican Party shortly after its formation in 1856 and campaigned on behalf of the Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont.[28] In 1857 Harrison was elected as the Indianapolis city attorney, a position that paid an annual salary of $400 (equivalent to $10,756 in 2018).[29][30]

In 1858, Harrison entered into a law partnership with William Wallace to form the law office of Wallace and Harrison.[31] Two years later, in 1860, Harrison successfully ran as the Republican candidate for reporter of the Indiana Supreme Court.[30] Harrison was an active supporter of the Republican Party's platform and served as Republican State Committee's secretary. After Wallace, his law partner, was elected as county clerk in 1860, Harrison established a new firm with William Fishback that was named Fishback and Harrison. The new partners worked together until Harrison entered the Union Army after the start of the American Civil War.[32]

Civil War

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

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for more recruits for the Union Army; Harrison wanted to enlist, but worried about how to support his young family.[33] While visiting Governor Oliver Morton, Harrison found him distressed over the shortage of men answering the latest call. Harrison told the governor, "If I can be of any service, I will go."[34]

Morton asked Harrison if he could help recruit a regiment, although he would not ask him to serve. Harrison recruited throughout northern Indiana to raise a regiment. Morton offered him the command, but Harrison declined, as he had no military experience. He was initially commissioned as a captain and company commander on July 22, 1862. Governor Morton commissioned Harrison as a colonel on August 7, 1862, and the newly formed 70th Indiana was mustered into Federal service on August 12, 1862. Once mustered, the regiment left Indiana to join the Union Army at Louisville, Kentucky.[35][36]

For much of its first two years, the 70th Indiana performed reconnaissance duty and guarded railroads in Kentucky and Tennessee. In 1864, Harrison and his regiment joined William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and moved to the front lines. On January 2, 1864, Harrison was promoted to command the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division of the XX Corps. He commanded the brigade at the battles of Resaca, Cassville, New Hope Church, Lost Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, Peachtree Creek, and Atlanta. When Sherman's main force began its March to the Sea, Harrison's brigade was transferred to the District of Etowah and participated in the Battle of Nashville.[37]

On January 23, 1865, President Lincoln nominated Harrison to the grade of brevet brigadier general of volunteers, to rank from that date, and the Senate confirmed the nomination on February 14, 1865.[38] He rode in the Grand Review in Washington, D.C. before mustering out on June 8, 1865.[37]

Post-war career

Indiana politics

While serving in the Union Army in October 1864, Harrison was once again elected reporter of the Supreme Court of Indiana, although he did not seek the position, and served as the Court's reporter for four more years. The position was unsalaried and not a politically powerful one, but it did provide Harrison with a steady income for his work preparing and publishing court opinions, which he sold to the legal profession.[39][40] Harrison also resumed his law practice in Indianapolis. He became a skilled orator and known as "one of the state's leading lawyers".[24]

In 1868 President Ulysses S. Grant appointed Harrison to represent the federal government in a civil suit filed by Lambdin P. Milligan, whose controversial wartime conviction for treason in 1864 led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case known as Ex parte Milligan.[41][42] The civil case was referred to the U.S. Circuit Court for Indiana at Indianapolis, where it evolved into Milligan v. Hovey.[43] Although the jury rendered a verdict in Milligan's favor and he had sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, state and federal statutes limited the amount the federal government had to award to Milligan to five dollars plus court costs.[43][44][45]

Benjamin Harrison Home
Benjamin Harrison Home in Indianapolis, Indiana

With his increasing reputation, local Republicans urged Harrison to run for Congress. He initially confined his political activities to speaking on behalf of other Republican candidates, a task for which he received high praises from his colleagues.[46] In 1872, Harrison campaigned for the Republican nomination for governor of Indiana. Former governor Oliver Morton favored his opponent, Thomas M. Browne, and Harrison lost his bid for statewide office.[47] He returned to his law practice and, despite the Panic of 1873, he was financially successful enough to build a grand new home in Indianapolis in 1874.[48] He continued to make speeches on behalf of Republican candidates and policies.[49]

In 1876, when a scandal forced the original Republican nominee, Godlove Stein Orth, to drop out of the gubernatorial race, Harrison accepted the Republican Party's invitation to take his place on the ticket.[50][51] Harrison centered his campaign on economic policy and favored deflating the national currency. He was ultimately defeated in a plurality by James D. Williams, losing by 5,084 votes out of a total 434,457 cast,[52] but Harrison was able to build on his new prominence in state politics. When the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 reached Indianapolis, he gathered a citizen militia to make a show of support for owners and management,[24][53] and helped to mediate an agreement between the workers and management and to prevent the strike from widening.[54]

When United States Senator Morton died in 1878, the Republicans nominated Harrison to run for the seat, but the party failed to gain a majority in the state legislature, which at that time elected senators; the Democratic majority elected Daniel W. Voorhees instead.[55][c] In 1879, President Hayes appointed Harrison to the Mississippi River Commission, which worked to develop internal improvements on the river.[56] As a delegate to the 1880 Republican National Convention the following year,[57] he was instrumental in breaking a deadlock on candidates, and James A. Garfield won the nomination.

United States Senator

Walter Q. Gresham - Brady-Handy
Walter Q. Gresham, Harrison's rival within the Indiana Republican Party

After Harrison led Indiana's Republican delegation at the 1880 Republican National Convention, he was considered the state's presumptive candidate for the U.S. Senate. He gave speeches in favor of Garfield in Indiana and New York, further raising his profile in the party. However, when the Republicans retook the majority in the state legislature, Harrison's election to a six-year term in the U.S. Senate was threatened by Judge Walter Q. Gresham, his intra-party rival, but Harrison was ultimately chosen.[58] After Garfield's election as president in 1880, his administration offered Harrison a cabinet position, but Harrison declined in favor of continuing his service in the U.S. Senate.[59]

Harrison served in the Senate from March 4, 1881, to March 3, 1887, and chaired the U.S. Senate Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard (47th Congress) and the U.S. Senate Committee on Territories (48th and 49th Congresses).[60]

In 1881, the major issue confronting Senator Harrison was the budget surplus. Democrats wanted to reduce the tariff and limit the amount of money the government took in; Republicans instead wanted to spend the money on internal improvements and pensions for Civil War veterans. Harrison took his party's side and advocated for generous pensions for veterans and their widows.[61] He also unsuccessfully supported aid for the education of Southerners, especially the children of the freedmen; he believed that education was necessary to help the black population rise to political and economic equality with whites. [62] Harrison opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which his party supported, because he thought it violated existing treaties with China.[63]

In 1884, Harrison and Gresham competed for influence at the 1884 Republican National Convention; the delegation ended up supporting James G. Blaine, the eventual nominee.[64] In the Senate, Harrison achieved passage of his Dependent Pension Bill, only to see it vetoed by President Grover Cleveland. His efforts to further the admission of new western states were stymied by Democrats, who feared that the new states would elect Republicans to Congress.[65]

In 1885 the Democrats redistricted the Indiana state legislature, which resulted in an increased Democratic majority in 1886, despite an overall Republican majority statewide.[66] In 1887, largely as a result of the Democratic gerrymandering of Indiana's legislative districts, Harrison was defeated in his bid for reelection.[24] Following a deadlock in the state senate, the state legislature eventually chose Democrat David Turpie as Harrison's successor in the U.S. Senate.[67] Harrison returned to Indianapolis and resumed his law practice, but stayed active in state and national politics.[68]

Election of 1888


Harrison-Morton 1888
Harrison–Morton campaign poster

The initial favorite for the Republican nomination was the previous nominee, James G. Blaine of Maine. After Blaine wrote several letters denying any interest in the nomination, his supporters divided among other candidates, with John Sherman of Ohio as the leader among them.[69] Others, including Chauncey Depew of New York, Russell Alger of Michigan, and Harrison's old nemesis Walter Q. Gresham, now a federal appellate court judge in Chicago, also sought the delegates' support at the 1888 Republican National Convention.[69] Blaine did not publicly endorse any of the candidates as a successor; however, on March 1, 1888, he privately wrote that "the one man remaining who in my judgment can make the best one is Benjamin Harrison."[56]

Harrison placed fifth on the first ballot, with Sherman in the lead, and the next few ballots showed little change.[70] The Blaine supporters shifted their support among candidates they found acceptable, and when they shifted to Harrison, they found a candidate who could attract the votes of many other delegations.[71] He was nominated as the party's presidential candidate on the eighth ballot, by a count of 544 to 108 votes.[72] Levi P. Morton of New York was chosen as his running mate.[73]

Election over Cleveland

Results of the 1888 election

Harrison's opponent in the general election was incumbent President Grover Cleveland. Harrison reprised a more traditional front-porch campaign, abandoned by his immediate predecessors; he received visiting delegations to Indianapolis and made over ninety pronouncements from his hometown.[74] The Republicans campaigned heavily in favor of protective tariffs, turning out protectionist voters in the important industrial states of the North. The election focused on the swing states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Harrison's home state of Indiana.[75] Harrison and Cleveland split these four states, with Harrison winning in New York and Indiana.[76] Voter turnout was 79.3%, reflecting a large interest in the campaign; nearly eleven million votes were cast.[77] Although Harrison received 90,000 fewer popular votes than Cleveland, he carried the Electoral College 233 to 168.[78] Allegations were made against Republicans for engaging in irregular ballot practices; an example was described as Blocks of Five.[79] On October 31 the Indiana Sentinel published a letter allegedly written by Harrison's friend and supporter, William Wade Dudley, to bribe voters in "blocks of five" to ensure Harrison's election. Harrison neither defended nor repudiated Dudley, but allowed him to remain on the campaign for the remaining few days. After the election, Harrison never spoke to Dudley again.[80]

Although Harrison had made no political bargains, his supporters had given many pledges upon his behalf. When Boss Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania, who was rebuffed for a Cabinet position for his political support during the convention, heard that Harrison ascribed his narrow victory to Providence, Quay exclaimed that Harrison would never know "how close a number of men were compelled to approach...the penitentiary to make him President".[81] Harrison was known as the Centennial President because his inauguration celebrated the centenary of the first inauguration of George Washington in 1789.[82] In congressional elections, the Republicans increased their membership in the House of Representatives by nineteen seats.[83]

Presidency 1889–1893

Inauguration and cabinet

HARRISON, Benjamin-President (BEP engraved portrait)
BEP engraved portrait of Harrison as President

Harrison was sworn into office on Monday, March 4, 1889, by Chief Justice Melville Fuller. His speech was brief – half as long as that of his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, whose speech holds the record for the longest inaugural address of a U.S. president.[84] In his speech, Benjamin Harrison credited the nation's growth to the influences of education and religion, urged the cotton states and mining territories to attain the industrial proportions of the eastern states and promised a protective tariff. Concerning commerce, he said, "If our great corporations would more scrupulously observe their legal obligations and duties, they would have less call to complain of the limitations of their rights or of interference with their operations."[85] Harrison also urged early statehood for the territories and advocated pensions for veterans, a statement that was met with enthusiastic applause. In foreign affairs, Harrison reaffirmed the Monroe Doctrine as a mainstay of foreign policy, while urging modernization of the Navy and a merchant marine force. He gave his commitment to international peace through noninterference in the affairs of foreign governments.[86]

John Philip Sousa's Marine Corps band played at the Inaugural Ball inside the Pension Building with a large crowd attending.[87] After moving into the White House, Harrison noted, quite prophetically, "There is only a door – one that is never locked – between the president's office and what are not very accurately called his private apartments. There should be an executive office building, not too far away, but wholly distinct from the dwelling house. For everyone else in the public service, there is an unroofed space between the bedroom and the desk."[88]

Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison, March 4, 1889. Cleveland held Harrison's umbrella.

Harrison acted quite independently in selecting his cabinet, much to the dismay of the Republican bosses. He began by delaying the presumed nomination of James G. Blaine as Secretary of State so as to preclude Blaine's involvement in the formation of the administration, as had occurred in President Garfield's term.[89] In fact, other than Blaine, the only Republican boss initially nominated was Redfield Proctor, as Secretary of War. Senator Shelby Cullom's comment symbolizes Harrison's steadfast aversion to use federal positions for patronage: "I suppose Harrison treated me as well as he did any other Senator; but whenever he did anything for me, it was done so ungraciously that the concession tended to anger rather than please."[90] Harrison's selections shared particular alliances – such as their service in the Civil War, Indiana citizenship and membership in the Presbyterian Church.[91] Nevertheless, Harrison with these choices had alienated pivotal Republican operatives from New York to Pennsylvania to Iowa and prematurely compromised his political power and future.[92] Harrison's normal schedule provided for two full cabinet meetings per week, as well as separate weekly one-on-one meetings with each cabinet member.[93]

In June 1890, Harrison's Postmaster General John Wanamaker and several Philadelphia friends purchased a large new cottage at Cape May Point for Harrison's wife Caroline. Many believed the cottage gift appeared to be improper and amounted to a bribe for a cabinet position. Harrison made no comment on the matter until after two weeks when he said he had always intended to purchase the cottage once Caroline gave approval. On July 2, perhaps a little tardily to avoid suspicion, Harrison gave Wanamaker a check for $10,000 (equivalent to $278,852 in 2018) to pay for the cottage.[94]

Civil service reform and pensions

Benjamin Harrison by Eastman Johnson
Eastman Johnson's portrait of Benjamin Harrison, c. 1890–1900

Civil service reform was a prominent issue following Harrison's election. Harrison had campaigned as a supporter of the merit system, as opposed to the spoils system.[95] Although some of the civil service had been classified under the Pendleton Act by previous administrations, Harrison spent much of his first months in office deciding on political appointments.[96] Congress was widely divided on the issue and Harrison was reluctant to address the issue in hope of preventing the alienation of either side. The issue became a political football of the time and was immortalized in a cartoon captioned "What can I do when both parties insist on kicking?"[97] Harrison appointed Theodore Roosevelt and Hugh Smith Thompson, both reformers, to the Civil Service Commission, but otherwise did little to further the reform cause.[98]

Harrison quickly saw the enactment of the Dependent and Disability Pension Act in 1890, a cause he had championed while in Congress. In addition to providing pensions to disabled Civil War veterans (regardless of the cause of their disability), the Act depleted some of the troublesome federal budget surplus. Pension expenditures reached $135 million under Harrison (equivalent to $3.8 billion in 2018), the largest expenditure of its kind to that point in American history, a problem exacerbated by Pension Bureau commissioner James R. Tanner's expansive interpretation of the pension laws.[99] An investigation into the Pension Bureau by Harrison's Secretary of Interior John Willock Noble found evidence of lavish and illegal handouts under Tanner.[100] Harrison, who privately believed that appointing Tanner had been a mistake, due to his apparent loose management style and tongue, asked Tanner to resign and replaced him with Green B. Raum.[101] Raum was also accused of accepting loan payments in return for expediting pension cases. Harrison, having accepted a dissenting Congressional Republican investigation report that exonerated Raum, kept him in office for the rest of his administration.[102]

One of the first appointments Harrison was forced to reverse was that of James S. Clarkson as an assistant postmaster. Clarkson, who had expected a full cabinet position, began sabotaging the appointment from the outset, gaining the reputation for "decapitating a fourth class postmaster every three minutes". Clarkson himself stated, "I am simply on detail from the Republican Committee...I am most anxious to get through this task and leave." He resigned in September 1890.[101]


Billion dollar Congress
Harrison and the Billion-Dollar Congress are portrayed as wasting the surplus in this cartoon from Puck.

The tariff levels had been a major political issue since before the Civil War, and they became the most dominant matter of the 1888 election.[103] The high tariff rates had created a surplus of money in the Treasury, which led many Democrats (as well as the growing Populist movement) to call for lowering them. Most Republicans preferred to maintain the rates, spend the surplus on internal improvements and eliminate some internal taxes.[104]

Representative William McKinley and Senator Nelson W. Aldrich framed the McKinley Tariff that would raise the tariff even higher, including making some rates intentionally prohibitive.[105] At Secretary of State James Blaine's urging, Harrison attempted to make the tariff more acceptable by urging Congress to add reciprocity provisions, which would allow the president to reduce rates when other countries reduced their rates on American exports.[103] The tariff was removed from imported raw sugar, and sugar growers in the United States were given a two cent per pound subsidy on their production.[105] Even with the reductions and reciprocity, the McKinley Tariff enacted the highest average rate in American history, and the spending associated with it contributed to the reputation of the Billion-Dollar Congress.[103]

Antitrust laws and the currency

Senator John Sherman worked closely with Harrison, writing bills regulating monopolies and monetary policy.

Members of both parties were concerned with the growth of the power of trusts and monopolies, and one of the first acts of the 51st Congress was to pass the Sherman Antitrust Act, sponsored by Senator John Sherman of Ohio. The Act passed by wide margins in both houses, and Harrison signed it into law.[106] The Sherman Act was the first Federal act of its kind, and marked a new use of federal government power.[107] While Harrison approved of the law and its intent, his administration was not particularly vigorous in enforcing it.[108] However, the government successfully concluded a case during Harrison's time in office (against a Tennessee coal company),[d] and had initiated several other cases against trusts.[108]

One of the most volatile questions of the 1880s was whether the currency should be backed by gold and silver, or by gold alone.[109] The issue cut across party lines, with western Republicans and southern Democrats joining together in the call for the free coinage of silver, and both parties' representatives in the northeast holding firm for the gold standard. Because silver was worth less than its legal equivalent in gold, taxpayers paid their government bills in silver, while international creditors demanded payment in gold, resulting in a depletion of the nation's gold supply. Owing to worldwide deflation in the late 19th century, however, a strict gold standard had resulted in reduction of incomes without the equivalent reduction in debts, pushing debtors and the poor to call for silver coinage as an inflationary measure.[110]

The silver coinage issue had not been much discussed in the 1888 campaign and Harrison is said to have favored a bimetallist position.[106] However, his appointment of a silverite Treasury Secretary, William Windom, encouraged the free silver supporters.[111] Harrison attempted to steer a middle course between the two positions, advocating a free coinage of silver, but at its own value, not at a fixed ratio to gold.[112] This failed to facilitate a compromise between the factions. In July 1890, Senator Sherman achieved passage of a bill, the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, in both houses.[112] Harrison thought that the bill would end the controversy, and he signed it into law.[113] The effect of the bill, however, was the increased depletion of the nation's gold supply, a problem that would persist until the second Cleveland administration resolved it.[114]

Civil rights

President Benjamin Harrison on ship
Harrison with Secretary Blaine and Representative Henry Cabot Lodge off the coast of Maine, 1889

After regaining the majority in both Houses of Congress, some Republicans, led by Harrison, attempted to pass legislation to protect black Americans' civil rights. Harrison's Attorney General, William H. H. Miller, through the Justice Department, ordered the prosecutions for violation of voting rights in the South; however, white juries often failed to convict or indict violators. This prompted Harrison to urge Congress to pass legislation that would "secure all our people a free exercise of the right of suffrage and every other civil right under the Constitution and laws."[115] Harrison endorsed the proposed Federal Elections Bill written by Representative Henry Cabot Lodge and Senator George Frisbie Hoar in 1890, but the bill was defeated in the Senate.[116] Following the failure to pass the bill, Harrison continued to speak in favor of African American civil rights in addresses to Congress. Most notably, on December 3, 1889, Harrison had gone before Congress and stated:

The colored people did not intrude themselves upon us; they were brought here in chains and held in communities where they are now chiefly bound by a cruel slave code...when and under what conditions is the black man to have a free ballot? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which have so long been his in law? When is that quality of influence which our form of government was intended to secure to the electors to be restored? … in many parts of our country where the colored population is large the people of that race are by various devices deprived of any effective exercise of their political rights and of many of their civil rights. The wrong does not expend itself upon those whose votes are suppressed. Every constituency in the Union is wronged.[117]

He severely questioned the states' civil rights records, arguing that if states have the authority over civil rights, then "we have a right to ask whether they are at work upon it."[116] Harrison also supported a bill proposed by Senator Henry W. Blair, which would have granted federal funding to schools regardless of the students' races.[118] He also endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling in the Civil Rights Cases (1883) that declared much of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. None of these measures gained congressional approval.[119]

National forests

In March 1891 Congress enacted, and Harrison signed, the Land Revision Act of 1891. This legislation resulted from a bipartisan desire to initiate reclamation of surplus lands that had been, up to that point, granted from the public domain, for potential settlement or use by railroad syndicates. As the law's drafting was finalized, Section 24 was added at the behest of Harrison by his Secretary of the Interior John Noble, which read as follows:

That the President of the United States may, from time to time, set apart and reserve, in any State or Territory having public land bearing forests, in any part of the public lands wholly or in part covered with timber or undergrowth, whether of commercial value or not, as public reservations, and the president shall, by public proclamation, declare the establishment of such reservations and the limits thereof.[120]

Within a month of the enactment of this law Harrison authorized the first forest reserve, to be located on public domain adjacent to Yellowstone Park, in Wyoming. Other areas were so designated by Harrison, bringing the first forest reservations total to 22 million acres in his term.[121] Harrison was also the first to give a prehistoric Indian Ruin, Casa Grande in Arizona, federal protection.[122]

Native American policy

During Harrison's administration, the Lakota Sioux, previously confined to reservations in South Dakota, grew restive under the influence of Wovoka, a medicine man, who encouraged them to participate in a spiritual movement called the Ghost Dance.[123] Many in Washington did not understand the predominantly religious nature of the Ghost Dance, and thought it was a militant movement being used to rally Native Americans against the government. On December 29, 1890, troops from the Seventh Cavalry clashed with the Sioux at Wounded Knee. The result was a massacre of at least 146 Sioux, including many women and children; the dead Sioux were buried in a mass grave.[124][125] In reaction Harrison directed Major General Nelson A. Miles to investigate and ordered 3500 federal troops to South Dakota; the uprising was brought to an end.[123] Wounded Knee is considered the last major American Indian battle in the 19th century.[124] Harrison's general policy on American Indians was to encourage assimilation into white society and, despite the massacre, he believed the policy to have been generally successful.[126] This policy, known as the allotment system and embodied in the Dawes Act, was favored by liberal reformers at the time, but eventually proved detrimental to American Indians as they sold most of their land at low prices to white speculators.[127]

Technology and naval modernization

USS Texas2
The 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. Harrison was the earliest president whose voice is known to be preserved. That thirty-six-second recording  was originally made on a wax phonograph cylinder in 1889 by Gianni Bettini.[128] 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.[129]

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."[130] 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.[131]

Foreign policy

Latin America and Samoa

Harrison and Secretary of State Blaine were often not the most cordial of friends, but harmonized in an aggressive foreign policy and commercial reciprocity with other nations.[132] Blaine's persistent medical problems warranted more of a hands-on effort by Harrison in the conduct of foreign policy. In San Francisco, while on tour of the United States in 1891, Harrison proclaimed that the United States was in a "new epoch" of trade and that the expanding navy would protect oceanic shipping and increase American influence and prestige abroad.[133] The First International Conference of American States met in Washington in 1889; Harrison set an aggressive agenda including customs and currency integration and named a bipartisan delegation to the conference, led by John B. Henderson and Andrew Carnegie. The conference failed to achieve any diplomatic breakthrough, due in large part to an atmosphere of suspicion fostered by the Argentinian delegation. It did succeed in establishing an information center that became the Pan American Union.[134] In response to the diplomatic bust, Harrison and Blaine pivoted diplomatically and initiated a crusade for tariff reciprocity with Latin American nations; the Harrison administration concluded eight reciprocity treaties among these countries.[135] On another front, Harrison sent Frederick Douglass as ambassador to Haiti, but failed in his attempts to establish a naval base there.[136]

In 1889, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the German Empire were locked in a dispute over control of the Samoan Islands. Historian George H. Ryden's research indicates Harrison played a key role in determining the status of this Pacific outpost by taking a firm stand on every aspect of Samoa conference negotiations; this included selection of the local ruler, refusal to allow an indemnity for Germany, as well as the establishment of a three power protectorate, a first for the U.S.. These arrangements facilitated the future dominant power of the U.S. in the Pacific; Secretary of State Blaine was absent due to complication of lumbago.[137]

European embargo of U.S. pork

Throughout the 1880s various European countries had imposed a ban on importation of United States pork out of an unconfirmed concern of trichinosis; at issue was over one billion pounds of pork products with a value of $80 million annually (equivalent to $2.2 billion in 2018). Harrison engaged Whitelaw Reid, minister to France, and William Walter Phelps, minister to Germany, to restore these exports for the country without delay. Harrison also successfully asked the congress to enact the Meat Inspection Act to eliminate the accusations of product compromise. The president also partnered with Agriculture Secretary Rusk to threaten Germany with retaliation – by initiating an embargo in the U.S. against Germany's highly demanded beet sugar. By September 1891 Germany relented, and was soon followed by Denmark, France and Austria-Hungary.[138]

Crises in Aleutian Islands and Chile

The first international crisis Harrison faced arose from disputed fishing rights on the Alaskan coast. Canada claimed fishing and sealing rights around many of the Aleutian Islands, in violation of U.S. law. As a result, the United States Navy seized several Canadian ships.[139] In 1891, the administration began negotiations with the British that would eventually lead to a compromise over fishing rights after international arbitration, with the British government paying compensation in 1898.[140][141]

In 1891, a diplomatic crisis emerged in Chile, otherwise known as the Baltimore Crisis. The American minister to Chile, Patrick Egan, granted asylum to Chileans who were seeking refuge during the 1891 Chilean Civil War. Egan, previously a militant Irish immigrant to the U.S., was motivated by a personal desire to thwart Great Britain's influence in Chile;[142] his action increased tensions between Chile and the United States, which began in the early 1880s when Secretary Blaine had alienated the Chileans in the War of the Pacific.

Uss baltimore c-3
Attack on sailors from the USS Baltimore spawned the 1891 Chilean crisis.

The crisis began in earnest when sailors from the USS Baltimore took shore leave in Valparaiso and a fight ensued, resulting in the deaths of two American sailors and the arrest of three dozen others.[143] The Baltimore's captain, Winfield Schley, based on the nature of the sailors' wounds, insisted the sailors had been bayonet-attacked by Chilean police without provocation. With Blaine incapacitated, Harrison drafted a demand for reparations. The Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs Manuel Matta replied that Harrison's message was "erroneous or deliberately incorrect," and said that the Chilean government was treating the affair the same as any other criminal matter.[144]

Tensions increased to the brink of war – Harrison threatened to break off diplomatic relations unless the United States received a suitable apology, and said the situation required, "grave and patriotic consideration". The president also remarked, "If the dignity as well as the prestige and influence of the United States are not to be wholly sacrificed, we must protect those who in foreign ports display the flag or wear the colors."[145] The Navy was also placed on a high level of preparedness. [144] A recuperated Blaine made brief conciliatory overtures to the Chilean government which had no support in the administration; he then reversed course, joined the chorus for unconditional concessions and apology by the Chileans, who ultimately obliged, and war was averted. Theodore Roosevelt later applauded Harrison for his use of the "big stick" in the matter.[146][147]

Annexation of Hawaii

In the last days of his administration, Harrison dealt with the issue of Hawaiian annexation. Following a coup d'état against Queen Liliuokalani, the new government of Hawaii led by Sanford Dole petitioned for annexation by the United States.[148] Harrison was interested in expanding American influence in Hawaii and in establishing a naval base at Pearl Harbor but had not previously expressed an opinion on annexing the islands.[149] The United States consul in Hawaii John L. Stevens recognized the new government on February 1, 1893, and forwarded their proposals to Washington. With just one month left before leaving office, the administration signed a treaty on February 14 and submitted it to the Senate the next day with Harrison's recommendation.[148] The Senate failed to act, and President Cleveland withdrew the treaty shortly after taking office.[150][151]


BHarrison cabinet
Harrison's cabinet in 1889
Front row, left to right: Harrison, William Windom, John Wanamaker, Redfield Proctor, James G. Blaine
Back row, left to right: William H. H. Miller, John Willock Noble, Jeremiah M. Rusk, Benjamin F. Tracy
The Harrison Cabinet
PresidentBenjamin Harrison1889–1893
Vice PresidentLevi P. Morton1889–1893
Secretary of StateJames G. Blaine1889–1892
John W. Foster1892–1893
Secretary of TreasuryWilliam Windom1889–1891
Charles W. Foster1891–1893
Secretary of WarRedfield Proctor1889–1891
Stephen B. Elkins1891–1893
Attorney GeneralWilliam H. H. Miller1889–1893
Postmaster GeneralJohn Wanamaker1889–1893
Secretary of the NavyBenjamin F. Tracy1889–1893
Secretary of the InteriorJohn W. Noble1889–1893
Secretary of AgricultureJeremiah M. Rusk1889–1893

Judicial appointments

Harrison appointed four Supreme Court justices, including David Josiah Brewer.

Harrison appointed four justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. The first was David Josiah Brewer, a judge on the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Brewer, the nephew of Justice Field, had previously been considered for a cabinet position. Shortly after Brewer's nomination, Justice Matthews died, creating another vacancy. Harrison had considered Henry Billings Brown, a Michigan judge and admiralty law expert, for the first vacancy and now nominated him for the second. For the third vacancy, which arose in 1892, Harrison nominated George Shiras. Shiras's appointment was somewhat controversial because his age—sixty—was older than usual for a newly appointed Justice. Shiras also drew the opposition of Senator Matthew Quay of Pennsylvania because they were in different factions of the Pennsylvania Republican party, but his nomination was nonetheless approved. Finally, at the end of his term, Harrison nominated Howell Edmunds Jackson to replace Justice Lamar, who died in January 1893. Harrison knew the incoming Senate would be controlled by Democrats, so he selected Jackson, a respected Tennessee Democrat with whom he was friendly to ensure his nominee would not be rejected. Jackson's nomination was indeed successful, but he died after only two years on the Court.[152]

In addition to his Supreme Court appointments, Harrison appointed ten judges to the courts of appeals, two judges to the circuit courts, and 26 judges to the district courts.

States admitted to the Union

Six new states were admitted to the Union while Harrison was in office:[153]

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

Vacations and travel

Harrison attended a grand, three-day centennial celebration of George Washington's inauguration in New York City on April 30, 1889, and made the following remarks "We have come into the serious but always inspiring presence of Washington. He was the incarnation of duty and he teaches us today this great lesson: that those who would associate their names with events that shall outlive a century can only do so by high consecration to duty. Self-seeking has no public observance or anniversary."[154]

The Harrisons made many trips out of the capital, which included speeches at most stops – including Philadelphia, New England, Indianapolis and Chicago. The President typically made his best impression speaking before large audiences, as opposed to more intimate settings.[155] The most notable of his presidential trips, theretofore unequaled, was a five-week tour of the west in the spring of 1891, aboard a lavishly outfitted train.[156] Harrison enjoyed a number of short trips out of the capital—usually for hunting—to nearby Virginia or Maryland.[157]

During the hot Washington summers, the Harrisons took refuge in Deer Park, Maryland and Cape May Point, New Jersey. In 1890, John Wanamaker joined with other Philadelphia devotees of the Harrisons and made a gift to them of a summer cottage at Cape May. Harrison, though appreciative, was uncomfortable with the appearance of impropriety; a month later, he paid Wanamaker $10,000 (equivalent to $278,852 in 2018) as reimbursement to the donors. Nevertheless, Harrison's opponents made the gift the subject of national ridicule, and Mrs. Harrison and the president were vigorously criticized.[158]

Reelection campaign in 1892

Eastman Johnson - Benjamin Harrison - Google Art Project
Official White House portrait of Benjamin Harrison, painted by Eastman Johnson

The treasury surplus had evaporated and the nation's economic health was worsening – precursors to the eventual Panic of 1893.[159] Congressional elections in 1890 had gone against the Republicans; and although Harrison had cooperated with Congressional Republicans on legislation, several party leaders withdrew their support for him because of his adamant refusal to give party members the nod in the course of his executive appointments. Specifically, Thomas C. Platt, Matthew S. Quay, Thomas B. Reed and James Clarkson quietly organized the Grievance Committee, the ambition of which was to initiate a dump-Harrison offensive. They solicited the support of Blaine, without effect however, and Harrison in reaction resolved to run for re-election – seemingly forced to choose one of two options – "become a candidate or forever wear the name of a political coward".[160]

It was clear that Harrison would not be re-nominated unanimously.[161] Many of Harrison's detractors persisted in pushing for an incapacitated Blaine, though he announced that he was not a candidate in February 1892.[161] Some party leaders still hoped to draft Blaine into running, and speculation increased when he resigned at the 11th hour as Secretary of State in June.[162] At the convention in Minneapolis, Harrison prevailed on the first ballot, but encountered significant opposition.[163]

The Democrats renominated former President Cleveland, making the 1892 election a rematch of the one four years earlier. The tariff revisions of the past four years had made imported goods so expensive that now many voters shifted to the reform position.[164] Many westerners, traditionally Republican voters, defected to the new Populist Party candidate, James Weaver, who promised free silver, generous veterans' pensions, and an eight-hour work day. The effects of the suppression of the Homestead Strike rebounded against the Republicans as well, although the federal government did not take action.[165]

Harrison's wife Caroline began a critical struggle with tuberculosis earlier in 1892, and two weeks before the election, on October 25, it took her life.[166] Their daughter Mary Harrison McKee assumed the role of First Lady after her mother's death. Mrs. Harrison's terminal illness and the fact that both candidates had served in the White House called for a low key campaign, and resulted in neither of the candidates actively campaigning personally.[167]

Cleveland ultimately won the election by 277 electoral votes to Harrison's 145, and also won the popular vote by 5,556,918 to 5,176,108; this was the most decisive presidential election in 20 years.[168][169] It gave Harrison the distinction of being the only president whose predecessor and successor were the same man.

Post-presidency and death

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

After he left office, Harrison visited the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in June 1893.[170] After the Expo, Harrison returned to his home in Indianapolis. Harrison had been elected a companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in 1882, and was elected as commander (president) of the Ohio Commandery on May 3, 1893. For a few months in 1894, Harrison lived in San Francisco, California, where he gave law lectures at Stanford University.[171] In 1896, some of Harrison's friends in the Republican party tried to convince him to seek the presidency again, but he declined. He traveled around the nation making appearances and speeches in support of William McKinley's candidacy for president.[172]

From July 1895 to March 1901 Harrison served on the Board of Trustees of Purdue University, where Harrison Hall, a dormitory, was named in his honor.[170] He wrote a series of articles about the federal government and the presidency which were republished in 1897 as a book titled This Country of Ours.[173] In 1896, Harrison at age 62 remarried, to Mary Scott Lord Dimmick, the widowed 37-year-old niece and former secretary of his deceased wife. Harrison's two adult children, Russell, 41 years old at the time, and Mary (Mamie) McKee, 38, disapproved of the marriage and did not attend the wedding. Benjamin and Mary had one child together, Elizabeth (February 21, 1897 – December 26, 1955).[174]

In 1898, Harrison served as an attorney for the Republic of Venezuela in their British Guiana boundary dispute with the United Kingdom.[175] An international trial was agreed upon; he filed an 800-page brief and traveled to Paris where he spent more than 25 hours in court on Venezuela's behalf. Although he lost the case, his legal arguments won him international renown.[176] In 1899 Harrison attended the First Peace Conference at The Hague.

2015-06-02 1758 Special committee on creed division with photo of Benjamin Harrison and Judge Edward William Cornelius Humphrey
Presbyterian General Assembly special committee on creed revision, including Benjamin Harrison and Judge Edward William Cornelius Humphrey

Harrison was an active Presbyterian and served as an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis and on a special committee on creed revision in the national Presbyterian General Assembly. However, he died before he could cast his vote at the meeting.[177][178][179][180]

Harrison developed what was thought to be influenza (then referred to as grippe) in February 1901. He was treated with steam vapor inhalation and oxygen, but his condition worsened. He 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.[181]

Historical reputation and memorials

According to historian R. Hal Williams, Harrison had a "widespread reputation for personal and official integrity". Closely scrutinized by Democrats, Harrison's reputation was largely intact when he left the White House. Having an advantage few 19th-century presidents had, Harrison's own party, the Republicans, controlled Congress, while his administration actively advanced a Republican program of a higher tariff, moderate control of corporations, protecting African American voting rights, a generous Civil War pension, and compromising over the controversial silver issue. Historians have not raised "serious questions about Harrison's own integrity or the integrity of his administration." [182]

Following the Panic of 1893, Harrison became more popular in retirement.[183] His legacy among historians is scant, and "general accounts of his period inaccurately treat Harrison as a cipher".[184] More recently,

historians have recognized the importance of the Harrison administration—and Harrison himself—in the new foreign policy of the late nineteenth century. The administration faced challenges throughout the hemisphere, in the Pacific, and in relations with the European powers, involvements that would be taken for granted in the twenty first century.[184]

Harrison's presidency belongs properly to the 19th century, but he "clearly pointed the way" to the modern presidency that would emerge under William McKinley.[185] The bi-partisan Sherman Anti-Trust Act signed into law by Harrison remains in effect over 120 years later and was the most important legislation passed by the Fifty-first Congress. Harrison's support for African American voting rights and education would be the last significant attempts to protect civil rights until the 1930s. Harrison's tenacity at foreign policy was emulated by politicians such as Theodore Roosevelt.[186]

Benjamin Harrison 1903 Issue-13c
The 1st Harrison stamp
Issue of 1902

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.[187] 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.[188] In 2012, a dollar coin with his image, part of the Presidential $1 Coin Program, was issued.[189]

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.[190] 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.[191]

In 1942, a Liberty Ship, the SS Benjamin Harrison, was named in his honor. 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.[192] The house was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964.[193]

Theodore Roosevelt dedicated Fort Benjamin Harrison in the former president's honor in 1906. It is located in Lawrence, Indiana, a northeastern suburb of Indianapolis. The federal government decommissioned Fort Harrison in 1991 and transferred 1,700 of its 2,500 acres to Indiana's state government in 1995 to establish Fort Harrison State Park.[194] The site has been redeveloped to include residential neighborhoods and a golf course.

See also


  1. ^ Although he was the eighth Benjamin Harrison in his family, Harrison is known simply as Benjamin Harrison, rather than Benjamin Harrison VIII.
  2. ^ The school was later known as Belmont College. After Belmont closed, the campus was transferred to the Ohio Military Institute, which closed in 1958.
  3. ^ Before the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Senators were elected by state legislatures.
  4. ^ The case was United States v. Jellico Mountain Coal, 46 Fed. 432. June 4, 1891


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  171. ^ Calhoun 2005, p. 158.
  172. ^ Calhoun 2005, pp. 160–161.
  173. ^ Harrison, Benjamin (1897). This Country of Ours. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  174. ^ Moore & Hale 2006, p. 153.
  175. ^ Moore & Hale 2006, p. 155.
  176. ^ Calhoun 2005, pp. 160–163.
  177. ^ Administrator, Joomla!. "Benjamin Harrison". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  178. ^ Ringenberg, William C. (1986). "Benjamin Harrison: The Religious Thought and Practice of a Presbyterian President". American Presbyterians: 175–189. JSTOR 23330850.
  179. ^ "Benjamin Harrison's Obituary:[From page 1 of The New York Times, March 14, 1901] BENJAMIN HARRISON DEAD". Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  180. ^ "Benjamin Harrison". Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  181. ^ Moore & Hale 2006, p. 156.
  182. ^ Williams, p. 191.
  183. ^ Calhoun 2005, p. 6.
  184. ^ a b Socolofsky & Spetter, p. x.
  185. ^ Calhoun 2005, p. 166.
  186. ^ Batten, p. 209
  187. ^ Brody, Roger S. (May 16, 2006). "13-cent Harrison". National Postal Museum. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  188. ^ Hudgeons, Marc; Hudgeons, Tom (2000). 2000 Blackbook Price Guide to United States Paper Money (32nd ed.). New York: Ballantine Publishing Group. pp. 116–117. ISBN 978-0-676-60072-8.
  189. ^ "Presidential Dollar Coin Release Schedule". United States Mint. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  190. ^ INgov, Accessdate Sep 18, 2012
  191. ^ Greiff, p. 173.
  192. ^ "Benjamin Harrison Home". National Park Service. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  193. ^ "Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site". President Benjamin Harrison Foundation. Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  194. ^ Conn, p. 94.


External video
Q&A interview with Charles W. Calhoun on Benjamin Harrison, September 2, 2018, C-SPAN


  • Barnhart, John D.; Riker, Dorothy L. (1971). Indiana to 1816: The Colonial Period. The History of Indiana. I. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau and the Indiana Historical Society.
  • Bodenhamer, David J.; Barrows, Robert G. (1994). The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. pp. 444–45. ISBN 0-253-31222-1.
  • Boomhower, Ray E. (2000). Destination Indiana: Travels Through Hoosier History. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. pp. 48–57. ISBN 0871951479.
  • Calhoun, Charles William (2005). Benjamin Harrison. Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-8050-6952-5.
  • Conn, Earl L. (2007). My Indiana: 101 Places to See. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society. pp. 94–95. ISBN 9780871951953.
  • Cowen, Wilson; Philip Nichols Jr.; Marion T. Bennett (1978). The United States Court of Claims: A History; Part II: Origin, Development, Jurisdiction, 1855–1978. Washington, D.C.: Committee on the Bicentennial of Independence and the Constitution of the Judicial Conference of the United States. p. 92.
  • Eicher, John H.; Eicher, David J. (2001). Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Foner, Eric (2002). Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877. p. 584. ISBN 9780060937164.
  • Greiff, Glory-June (2005). Remembrance, Faith and Fancy: Outdoor Public Sculpture in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. p. 173. ISBN 0-87195-180-0.
  • Gugin, Linda C., and James E. St. Clair, eds. (2015). Indiana's 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press. pp. 158–60. ISBN 978-0-87195-387-2.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Harrison, Benjamin (1897). This Country of Ours. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Kinzer, Donald L., "Benjamin Harrison and the Politics of Availability" in Gray, Ralph D. ed. (1977). Gentlemen from Indiana: National Party Candidates, 1836–1940. Indiana Historical Collections. 50. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau. pp. 141–69.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  • Moore, Chieko; Hale, Hester Anne (2006). Benjamin Harrison: Centennial President. Nova Publishers. ISBN 978-1-60021-066-2.
  • Owens, Robert M. (2007). Mr. Jefferson's Hammer: William Henry Harrison and the Origins of American Indian Policy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-8061-3842-8.
  • Rhodes, James Ford. History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850: 1877–1896 (1919) online complete; old, factual and heavily political, by winner of Pulitzer Prize
  • Sievers, Harry J. (1968). Benjamin Harrison: v1 Hoosier Warrior, 1833–1865; v2: Hoosier Statesman From The Civil War To The White House 1865–1888; v3: Benjamin Harrison. Hoosier President. The White House and After. University Publishers Inc.
  • Smith, Robert C., ed. (2003). Encyclopedia of African-American Politics. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8160-4475-7.
  • Socolofsky, Homer E.; Spetter, Allan B. (1987). The Presidency of Benjamin Harrison. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-0320-6.
  • Wallace, Lew (1888). Life and Public Services of Benjamin Harrison. Edgewood Publishing Company.
  • Williams, R. Hal (1974). "Benjamin Harrison 1889–1893". In Woodward, C. Vann (ed.). Responses of the Presidents to the Charges of Misconduct. Dell Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 191–195. ISBN 0-440-05923-2.
  • Wilson, Kirt H. (2005). "The Politics of Place and Presidential Rhetoric in the United States, 1875–1901". In Rigsby, Enrique D.; Aune, James Arnt (eds.). Civil Rights Rhetoric and the American Presidency. TAMU Press. pp. 16–40. ISBN 978-1-58544-440-3.


  • Batten, Donna, ed. (2010). "Gale Encyclopedia of American Law". 5 (3 ed.). Detroit: 208–209.
  • Stuart, Paul (September 1977). "United States Indian Policy: From the Dawes Act to the American Indian Policy Review Commission". Social Service Review. 51 (3): 451–463. doi:10.1086/643524. JSTOR 30015511.

Further reading

Primary sources

External links


Media coverage


1888 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1888 was the 26th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1888. Republican nominee Benjamin Harrison, a former Senator from Indiana, defeated incumbent Democratic President Grover Cleveland of New York. It was the third of five U.S. presidential elections in which the winner did not win a plurality of the national popular vote.

Cleveland, the first Democratic president since the American Civil War, was unanimously re-nominated at the 1888 Democratic National Convention. He was the first incumbent president to win re-nomination since Grant was nominated to a second term in 1872. Harrison, the grandson of former President William Henry Harrison, emerged as the Republican nominee on the eighth ballot of the 1888 Republican National Convention. He defeated other prominent party leaders such as Senator John Sherman and former Governor Russell Alger.

Tariff policy was the principal issue in the election, as Cleveland had proposed a dramatic reduction in tariffs, arguing that high tariffs were unfair to consumers. Harrison took the side of industrialists and factory workers who wanted to keep tariffs high. Cleveland's opposition to Civil War pensions and inflated currency also made enemies among veterans and farmers. On the other hand, he held a strong hand in the South and border states, and appealed to former Republican Mugwumps.

Cleveland won a plurality of the popular vote, but Harrison won the election with a majority in the Electoral College. Harrison swept almost the entire North and Midwest, and narrowly carried the swing states of New York and Indiana.

1891 State of the Union Address

The 1891 State of the Union Address was written by Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States. It was to both houses of the 52nd United States Congress on Wednesday, December 9, 1891, by a clerk. He said, "The vista that now opens to us is wider and more glorious than ever before. Gratification and amazement struggle for supremacy as we contemplate the population, wealth, and moral strength of our country."

1892 United States presidential election in Minnesota

The 1892 United States presidential election in Minnesota took place on November 8, 1892. All contemporary 44 states were part of the 1892 United States presidential election. Minnesota voters chose nine electors to the Electoral College, which selected the president and vice president.

Minnesota was won by the Republican nominees, incumbent President Benjamin Harrison of Indiana and his running mate Whitelaw Reid of New York. Minnesota was the state where Bidwell performed the best and the only one where he broke 5%.

Benjamin Harrison (bust)

Benjamin Harrison is a bust by American artist Richard Peglow, located in the north atrium on the second floor of the Indiana Statehouse, which is in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. The bust is cast in bronze and depicts President Benjamin Harrison. The bust is placed in front of a grey and black marble shield with six stars tracing around the edge of the shape. The bust and shield are approximately 28 inches wide by 25 inches high and has a depth of 14.5 inches. The artwork was cast and placed in the statehouse in 2008 in accordance with Indiana code Section 2. IC 4-20.5-6-12.

Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, previously known as the Benjamin Harrison Home, was the home of the Twenty-third President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. It is in the Old Northside Historic District of Indianapolis, Indiana. Harrison had the sixteen-room house with its red brick exterior built in the 1870s. It was from the front porch of the house that Harrison instituted his famous Front Porch Campaign in the 1888 United States Presidential Campaign, often speaking to crowds on the street. In 1896, Harrison renovated the house and added electricity. He died there in a second story bedroom in 1901. Today it is owned by the Arthur Jordan Foundation and operated as a museum to the former president by the Benjamin Harrison Foundation.

Benjamin Harrison V

Benjamin Harrison V (April 5, 1726 – April 24, 1791) was an American planter and merchant from Charles City County, Virginia, a revolutionary leader, and a Founding Father of the United States. He received his higher education at the College of William and Mary and was a representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses for Surry County, Virginia (1756–1758, 1785–1786) and Charles City County (1766–1776, 1787–1790). He was a Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1777 and a signer of the Declaration of Independence during the Second Continental Congress. He served as Virginia's fifth governor from 1781 to 1784. His direct descendants include two Presidents: his son William Henry Harrison and his great-grandson Benjamin Harrison.

Charles Foster (Ohio politician)

Charles William Foster, Jr. (April 12, 1828 – January 9, 1904) was a U.S. Republican politician from Ohio. Foster was the 35th Governor of Ohio, and later went on to serve as Secretary of the Treasury under Benjamin Harrison.

Fort Benjamin Harrison

Fort Benjamin Harrison was a U.S. Army post located in suburban Lawrence Township, Marion County, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis between 1906 and 1991. It is named for the 23rd United States President, Benjamin Harrison.

Fort Harrison State Park

Fort Harrison, sometimes called Fort Ben, is an Indiana state park located in Lawrence, Indiana, United States, and occupies part of the former site of Fort Benjamin Harrison. The park features a former Citizen's Military Training Camp, Civilian Conservation Corps camp, and World War II prisoner of war camp. There are also picnicking and walking/jogging trails.

George Shiras Jr.

George Shiras Jr. (January 26, 1832 – August 2, 1924) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States who was nominated to the Court by Republican President Benjamin Harrison. At that time, he had 37 years of private legal practice, but had never judged a case. Shiras's only public service before he became a justice was as a federal elector in 1888, almost four years before his nomination in 1892.

Harrison family of Virginia

The Harrison family of Virginia is a notable political family in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia and of the United States. Family members include a Founding Father of the nation and three presidents, as well as state governors, legislators, education leaders, and mayors.

The family consists primarily of two branches, originating in England. Members of one branch emigrated from Bermuda to Virginia before 1633 and settled on the James River, and they are frequently referred to as the James River Harrisons. This branch includes successive generations who served in the legislature of the Colony of Virginia, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, several Virginia governors, and Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison. The family also produced two Chicago mayors and members of the U. S. House of Representatives.

The second branch of the Virginia Harrisons emigrated from Britain to New England in 1687, and settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia 50 years later. This branch most likely descended from an interim chaplain of the Jamestown Colony who returned to England. The Shenandoah Valley Harrisons include the founders of Harrisonburg and Dayton as well as another President, Abraham Lincoln. This family also includes noted physicians, educators, and local officials.

Inauguration of Benjamin Harrison

The inauguration of Benjamin Harrison as the 23rd President of the United States took place on Monday, March 4, 1889. The inauguration marked the commencement of the four-year term of Benjamin Harrison as President and Levi P. Morton as Vice President. Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller administered the Oath of office while rain poured down.Harrison was 5' 6" tall, he was only slightly taller than James Madison, the shortest president, but much heavier; he was the fourth (and last) president to sport a full beard. Harrison's Inauguration ceremony took place during a rainstorm in Washington D.C.. Outgoing U.S. President Grover Cleveland attended the ceremony and held an umbrella over Harrison's head as he took the oath of office.

His speech was brief – half as long as that of his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, whose speech holds the record for the longest inaugural address of a U.S. president. In his speech, Benjamin Harrison credited the nation's growth to the influences of education and religion, urged the cotton states and mining territories to attain the industrial proportions of the eastern states and promised a protective tariff. Concerning commerce, he said, "If our great corporations would more scrupulously observe their legal obligations and duties, they would have less call to complain of the limitations of their rights or of interference with their operations." Harrison also urged early statehood for the territories and advocated pensions for veterans, a statement that was met with enthusiastic applause. In foreign affairs, Harrison reaffirmed the Monroe Doctrine as a mainstay of foreign policy, while urging modernization of the Navy and a merchant marine force. He gave his commitment to international peace through noninterference in the affairs of foreign governments.

John Philip Sousa's Marine Corps band played at the Inaugural Ball inside the Pension Building with a large crowd attending. After moving into the White House, Harrison noted, quite prophetically, "There is only a door – one that is never locked – between the president's office and what are not very accurately called his private apartments. There should be an executive office building, not too far away, but wholly distinct from the dwelling house. For everyone else in the public service there is an unroofed space between the bedroom and the desk."

John W. Foster

John Watson Foster (March 2, 1836 – November 15, 1917) was an American diplomat and military officer, as well as a lawyer and journalist. His highest public office was U.S. Secretary of State under Benjamin Harrison, although he also proved influential as a lawyer in technically private practice in the international relations sphere.

Levi P. Morton

Levi Parsons Morton (May 16, 1824 – May 16, 1920) was the 22nd vice president of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He also served as United States ambassador to France, as a representative from New York, and as the 31st governor of New York.

The son of a Congregational minister, Morton was born and educated in Vermont and Massachusetts, and trained for a business career by clerking in stores and working in mercantile establishments in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. After relocating to New York City, Morton became a successful merchant, cotton broker, and investment banker.

Active in politics as a Republican, Morton was an ally of Roscoe Conkling. He was twice elected to the United States House of Representatives, and he served one full term, and one partial one (March 4, 1879 – March 21, 1881). In 1880, Republican presidential nominee James A. Garfield offered Morton the vice presidential nomination in an effort to win over Conkling loyalists who were disappointed that their choice for president, Ulysses S. Grant, had lost to Garfield. Conkling advised Morton to decline, which he did. Garfield then offered the nomination to another Conkling ally, Chester A. Arthur, who accepted.

After Garfield and Arthur were elected, Garfield nominated Morton to be Minister Plenipotentiary to France, and Morton served in Paris until 1885. In 1888, Morton was nominated for Vice President on the Republican ticket with presidential nominee Benjamin Harrison; they were elected, and Morton served as Vice President from 1889 to 1893. In 1894, Morton was the successful Republican nominee for governor of New York, and he served one term, 1895 to 1896.

In retirement, Morton resided in New York City and Rhinebeck, New York. He died in 1920, and was buried at Rhinebeck Cemetery.

List of federal judges appointed by Benjamin Harrison

Following is a list of all Article III United States federal judges appointed by President Benjamin Harrison during his presidency. In total Harrison appointed 42 Article III federal judges, including 4 Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States, 12 judges to the United States courts of appeals and United States circuit courts and 26 judges to the United States district courts.

Additionally, Harrison appointed 1 judge to the United States Court of Claims and 10 members to the Board of General Appraisers (later the United States Customs Court), both Article I tribunals.

The Judiciary Act of 1891, approved March 3, 1891, established the United States courts of appeals. Prior to the passage of that act, United States Circuit Judges were appointed solely to the existing United States circuit courts. Subsequent to the passage of that act, United States Circuit Judges were concurrently appointed to both the United States courts of appeals and the United States circuit courts. This situation persisted until the abolition of the United States circuit courts on December 31, 1911. Starting January 1, 1912, United States Circuit Judges served only upon their respective United States court of appeals.

Thus, the first 2 United States Circuit Judges appointed during Harrison's administration were appointed solely to the United States circuit court for their respective circuit and were reassigned by operation of law to serve concurrently on the United States court of appeals and United States circuit court on June 16, 1891. The 10 United States Circuit Judges appointed by Harrison after June 16, 1891 were appointed concurrently to the United States court of appeals and United States circuit court.

List of the verified oldest people

These are lists of the 100 known verified oldest people arranged in descending order of each individual's age in years and days. A year typically refers to a calendar year, the time between two dates of the same name. However, years can be of different lengths due to the presence or absence of a leap day within the year, or to the conversion of dates from one calendar to another.

The oldest person ever whose age has been verified is the contested case of Jeanne Calment (1875–1997) of France, who died at the purported age of 122 years, 164 days. The oldest man ever whose age has been verified is Jiroemon Kimura (1897–2013) of Japan, who died at the age of 116 years, 54 days.

As of 26 April 2019, the oldest known living person is Kane Tanaka of Japan, aged 116 years, 114 days. The oldest known living man is Gustav Gerneth of Germany, aged 113 years, 193 days. Due to differences in life expectancy, the 100 oldest women have, on average, lived significantly longer than the 100 oldest men.

All the people on this list are supercentenarians, having reached an age of at least 110.

Presidency of Benjamin Harrison

The presidency of Benjamin Harrison began on March 4, 1889, when Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1893. Harrison, a Republican, took office as the 23rd United States president after defeating Democratic incumbent President Grover Cleveland in the 1888 election. Four years later he was defeated for re-election by Cleveland in the 1892 presidential election. Harrison is the only president to be preceded and succeeded by the same individual. Harrison is also the only president to be the grandson of another president.

Harrison and the Republican-controlled 51st Congress enacted the most ambitious domestic agenda of the late-nineteenth century. Hallmarks of his administration include the McKinley Tariff, which imposed historic protective trade rates, and the Sherman Antitrust Act, which empowered the federal government to investigate and prosecute trusts. Due in large part to surplus revenues from the tariffs, federal spending reached one billion dollars for the first time during his term. Harrison facilitated the creation of the National Forests through an amendment to the Land Revision Act of 1891, and substantially strengthened and modernized the Navy. He proposed, in vain, federal education funding as well as voting rights enforcement for African Americans during his administration. In foreign policy, Harrison sought tariff reciprocity in Latin America and increased U.S. influence across the Pacific. Harrison's presidency saw the addition of six new states, more than any other president.

Although many have praised Harrison's commitment to African Americans' voting rights, scholars and historians generally regard his administration as below-average, and rank him in the bottom half among U.S. presidents. Historians, however, have not questioned Harrison's commitment to personal and official integrity. With his ambitious domestic policy and assertive foreign policy, Harrison set a precedent for the more powerful presidencies of the 20th century.

Richard Benjamin Harrison

Richard Benjamin Harrison Jr. (March 4, 1941 – June 25, 2018), also known by the nicknames The Old Man and The Appraiser, was an American businessman and reality television personality, best known as the co-owner of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, as featured on the History Channel series Pawn Stars. Harrison was the co-owner of the pawn shop with his son Rick Harrison. They opened the store together in 1989.Harrison was usually referred to by his nickname, "The Old Man", which he earned at the age of 38.

SS Benjamin Harrison

The SS Benjamin Harrison (Hull Number 25) was a Liberty ship built in the United States during World War II. She was named after Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third President of the United States.

The ship was laid down on 27 September 1941, then launched on 24 January 1942. She was loaded with stores for Allied forces in North Africa and sailed from Hampton Roads on 4 March 1943 with convoy UGS 6. She was torpedoed by U-172 during the only successful wolf pack attack on the trans-Atlantic UG convoys. Three of her crew perished, and she was scuttled on 16 March 1943.

Offices and distinctions

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