Caroline Harrison

Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (October 1, 1832 – October 25, 1892), was a teacher of music, the wife of Benjamin Harrison and mother of two surviving children; after his election as President of the United States, she was the First Lady of the United States from 1889 until her death.

She secured funding for an extensive renovation of the White House and oversaw the work. Interested in history and preservation, in 1890 she helped found the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and served as its first President General.

Caroline Harrison
Caroline Harrison
First Lady of the United States
In role
March 4, 1889 – October 25, 1892
PresidentBenjamin Harrison
Preceded byFrances Cleveland
Succeeded byMary McKee (Acting)
Personal details
Caroline Lavinia Scott

October 1, 1832
Oxford, Ohio, U.S.
DiedOctober 25, 1892 (aged 60)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Cause of deathTuberculosis
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery
RelativesJohn Witherspoon Scott (Father)
EducationMiami University (BM)
Caroline Harrison's signature

Early life and education

Caroline Lavinia Scott was born in Oxford, Ohio, the second daughter of John Witherspoon Scott, a Presbyterian minister and professor of science and mathematics at Miami University.

Dr. Scott had been at Miami for more than two decades when, in 1845, he and several other professors were fired after a dispute with the university president, George Junkin, over slavery; Junkin supported it and Scott and the others opposed it.

Her father next accepted a job teaching chemistry and physics at Farmer's College and moved the family to College Hill, near Cincinnati. There in 1848 Caroline met Benjamin Harrison, one of her father's freshman students. The two began a courtship but did not marry until 1853.

In 1849, the Scotts returned to Oxford, as Dr. Scott was selected as the first president of the Oxford Female Institute. It was held in the former Temperance Tavern, which he had purchased in 1841. Her mother Mary Neal Scott joined the school as its matron and the Head of Home Economics. Caroline enrolled as a student, studying English literature, theater, art, and painting. In her senior year in 1852, she joined the faculty as an Assistant in Piano Music.


Benjamin Harrison c1850
Benjamin Harrison c1850

Benjamin Harrison, or "Ben" as he was known, had studied under Dr. Scott at Farmer's College for nearly two years. In 1850, he transferred to Miami University, both because of its strong academic program and to be near Caroline. The two fell in love.

Caroline often took Ben dancing against the wishes of his father, a strict Presbyterian who frowned on such activities. In 1852, during the second semester of Ben's senior year, the couple became engaged. They decided to postpone their wedding while Benjamin studied law in the law office of Storer & Gwynne in Cincinnati, and she finished school. She graduated in 1852 with a degree in music. That year she moved to Carrollton, Kentucky to teach music. Suffering from pneumonia, she returned to Ohio soon afterward.

Marriage and family

Benjamin and Caroline were married on October 20, 1853 at her house, with her father officiating. She was 21 years old. The newlyweds honeymooned at North Bend, Ohio. They lived at the Harrison family home for some time while they saved money. They settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, after Benjamin completed his law studies a year later and set up his first practice.

The first few years of marriage were a struggle. The couple rarely spent time together, as Benjamin worked to establish his law practice and was active in fraternal organizations to build up his business network. When Caroline became pregnant, she returned to Oxford to stay with her parents. Many young women went home for childbirth, to have their mother's experience. In 1854, her first child Russell was born.

She soon returned with him to Indianapolis. Not long after, a fire destroyed the Harrison house and all their belongings. The family managed to recover financially after Benjamin took a job handling cases for a local law firm whose founder had decided to run for office.

In 1858, Caroline gave birth to a daughter, Mary Scott.

Civil War

At the onset of the Civil War, both Caroline and Benjamin sought to help in the war effort. Caroline joined local groups such as the Ladies Patriotic Association and the Ladies Sanitary Committee, which helped care for wounded soldiers directly and raised money for their care and supplies. At the same time, she joined the church choir and raised their two children.

In 1862, Benjamin recruited a regiment of over 1,000 men from Indiana. Initially offered the command, he declined because of lack of experience and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. During the day, he trained his men, and at night he studied military strategy. After two years, he was commissioned as a colonel and led the men in numerous engagements in the east. In 1865, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general.

After the war, he spent the next decade practicing law and getting involved in politics.

Wife of a politician

Benjamin ran for governor of Indiana in 1876 and lost. Five years later, in 1881, the Republican-dominated legislature elected him to the United States Senate (few states had popular elections for this office). He and the family moved to Washington, D.C.. Caroline had suffered from poor health since her bout with pneumonia years earlier, and did not participate much in social events in the capital. She supported charities and headed the Garfield Hospital Aid Society.

In 1888, the Republican Party nominated Harrison as its presidential candidate. That fall he defeated the incumbent Grover Cleveland.

First Lady of the United States

Portrait of Caroline Scott Harrison (by Daniel Huntington, 1894)
Official White House portrait

During the Harrison administration, their daughter Mary Harrison McKee, her two children; Caroline's father, and other relatives lived at the White House. The First Lady tried to have the overcrowded mansion enlarged, but was unsuccessful. She did secure $35,000 in appropriations from Congress to renovate the White House; and she oversaw an extensive project making up-to-date improvements.

She had the mansion purged of problem rodent and insect populations, laid new floors, installed new plumbing, painted and wallpapered, and added more bathrooms. In 1891 she had electricity installed but was too frightened to handle the switches. She left the lights on all night and a building engineer turned them off each morning.

In 1889 Caroline Harrison raised the first Christmas tree in the White House, as the custom was becoming more popular. She introduced the use of orchids as the official floral decoration at state receptions. A talented artist, she conducted china-painting classes in the White House for other women; it was a popular craft of the time.

With other ladies of progressive views, she helped raise funds for the Johns Hopkins University Medical School on the condition that it admit women.[1]

The centennial of President Washington's inauguration in 1889 heightened the nation's interest in its heroic past, and in 1890 she lent her prestige as First Lady to the founding the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) and served as its first President General. She took a special interest in the history of the White House.

DogHouse Dash President Harrison
Dog house and resident Dash

She had a dog named Dash, who was a mixed breed collie. It was reported that he was always wanting to play with his owner, but Harrison couldn't because he feared his colleagues would think of him as less of a man.

Illness and death

The First Lady was noted for her elegant White House receptions and dinners. In late 1891, she began to battle tuberculosis, which at the time had no known treatment other than rest and good nutrition.

She tried to fulfill her social obligations but, after her condition worsened, she traveled to spend the summer of 1892 in the Adirondack Mountains. The air was considered healthful for TB patients. After her condition became terminal, she returned to the White House, where she died on October 25, 1892. Caroline Harrison was only 60 years old at the time of her death. Preliminary services were held in the East Room, and her body was returned to Indianapolis for the final funeral at her church.

After the period of official mourning ended, the Harrisons' daughter Mary McKee took up the duties of hostess for her father during the last months of his term.

In 1896, Benjamin Harrison married his late wife's niece and former secretary, the widow Mary Scott Dimmick.


The Harrisons had a son and a daughter:

  • Russell Benjamin Harrison (1854–1936) – engineer, soldier, lawyer, state legislator. Born in Oxford, Ohio, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1877. After brief employment with an Indianapolis gas company, he was appointed assistant assayer at the U.S. Mint in New Orleans and later assayer at Helena, Montana. In 1884, he married May Saunders, daughter of Senator Alvin Saunders of Nebraska. A man of varied interests, he raised livestock and published the Helena Daily Journal. He served as private secretary to his father during Harrison's term as president. Subsequently, he was president of a streetcar company in Terre Haute, Indiana. After serving as an officer in the Spanish–American War, Russell Harrison was appointed inspector general for the Santiago Territory and provost martial for Puerto Rico. Later he became a lawyer and served as Mexico's legal representative in the U.S. for many years. He was elected to and served in both houses of the Indiana state legislature.
  • Mary "Mamie" Scott Harrison-McKee (1858–1930). Born in Indianapolis, in 1884 she married J. Robert McKee, later a founder and vice president of General Electric Company. They had two children. She was assistant hostess at the White House during the Harrison administration, and became her father's unofficial First Lady after her mother's death.


Caroline Scott Harrison was member n. 7 of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Born in Ohio. Wife of Benjamin Harrison, twenty-third President of the United States. Descendant of John Scott and Saul Rea. Daughter of John Witherspoon Scott and Mary Neal, his wife. Granddaughter of George McElery Scott and Anna Rea, his wife. Great-granddaughter of John Scott and Agnes McElery, his wife. Great-great-granddaughter of John Scott and Jane Mitchell, his wife. John Scott was commissary general of the Pennsylvania Line. Also descendant of Saul Rea, who held civil office during the Revolution and was a member of Congress.[2]


  1. ^ Griffin, Lynne; Kelly McCann (1992). The Book of Women. Holbrook, MA: Bob Adams, Inc. p. 5. ISBN 1-55850-106-1.
  2. ^ National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution 1901 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Frances Cleveland
First Lady of the United States
Succeeded by
Mary McKee
De facto


was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1832nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 832nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 32nd year of the 19th century, and the 3rd year of the 1830s decade. As of the start of 1832, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1832 in the United States

Events from the year 1832 in the United States.

Auburn Button Works and Logan Silk Mills

Auburn Button Works and Logan Silk Mills is a historic factory complex located at Auburn in Cayuga County, New York. It is a vernacular Italianate style industrial building built in 1879-1880 to house the Auburn Button Works and Logan Silk Mills. The complex has three parts: a three-story, rectangular main block; a two-story, rectangular west wing; and three story rectangular east wing. It is built of brick on a stone foundation.Logan Silk Mills was famous for providing the silk for the gown of the First Lady Caroline Harrison wore when her husband, Benjamin Harrison, was inaugurated the 23rd President of the United States in 1889. The Logan Silk Mills went out of business the following year and the space was occupied by the Wegman Piano Company. The Auburn Button Works remained in the complex until about 1900. A fire swept through the west wing on May 1, 1914 and destroyed the third floor. The complex was used as manufacturing space for automobile and mill supplies, shoes, marine hardware, and has also provided warehouse space.It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.

Fever Kingdoms

Fever Kingdoms is an EP by the heavy metal band Pyrrhon. It was released on October 26, 2010 on Path Less Traveled Records.

Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston

Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland Preston (July 21, 1864 – October 29, 1947) was married to the President of the United States Grover Cleveland and was the First Lady of the United States from 1886 to 1889 and again from 1893 to 1897. Becoming First Lady at age 21, she remains the youngest wife of a sitting president.

John Witherspoon Scott

The Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon Scott (January 22, 1800-November 29, 1892) was an American Presbyterian minister, academic and college administrator. His daughter Caroline Harrison became First Lady of the United States after her husband Benjamin Harrison was elected as president.

Julia Grant

Julia Boggs Dent Grant (January 26, 1826 – December 14, 1902), was the First Lady of the United States and wife of Ulysses S. Grant. Her time as First Lady marked a turning point in her life, when she became a national figure.

Letitia Christian Tyler

Letitia Christian Tyler (November 12, 1790 – September 10, 1842), first wife of John Tyler, was the First Lady of the United States from 1841 until her death in 1842.

List of First Ladies of the United States

The First Lady of the United States is the hostess of the White House. The position is traditionally filled by the wife of the President of the United States, but, on occasion, the title has been applied to women who were not presidents’ wives, such as when the president was a bachelor or widower, or when the wife of the president was unable to fulfill the duties of the First Lady herself. The First Lady is not an elected position; it carries no official duties and receives no salary. Nonetheless, she attends many official ceremonies and functions of state either along with or in place of the president. Traditionally, the First Lady does not hold outside employment while occupying the office. She has her own staff, including the White House Social Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the Press Secretary, the Chief Floral Designer, and the Executive Chef. The Office of the First Lady is also in charge of all social and ceremonial events of the White House, and is a branch of the Executive Office of the President.

There have been total of fifty-three First Ladies including forty-two official and eleven acting, within forty-five First Ladyships. This discrepancy exists because some presidents had multiple first ladies. Following Donald Trump's inauguration on January 20, 2017, his wife, Melania Trump, became the 42nd official First Lady, succeeding Michelle Obama, wife of former President Barack Obama.

There are four living former First Ladies: Rosalynn Carter, married to Jimmy Carter; Hillary Clinton, married to Bill Clinton; Laura Bush, married to George W. Bush, and Michelle Obama, married to Barack Obama. The first First Lady was Martha Washington, married to George Washington. Presidents John Tyler and Woodrow Wilson had two official First Ladies; both remarried during their presidential tenures. The wives of four Presidents died before their husbands were sworn into office but are still considered First Ladies by the White House and National First Ladies' Library: Martha Wayles Skelton, married to Thomas Jefferson; Rachel Jackson, married to Andrew Jackson; Hannah Van Buren, married to Martin Van Buren; and Ellen Lewis Herndon Arthur, married to Chester A. Arthur. One woman who was not married to a President is still considered an official First Lady: Harriet Lane, niece of bachelor James Buchanan. The other non-spousal relatives who served as White House hostesses are not recognized by the First Ladies' Library.

In 2007, the United States Mint began releasing a set of half-ounce $10 gold coins under the First Spouse Program with engravings of portraits of the First Ladies on the obverse. When a President served without a spouse, a gold coin was issued that bears an obverse image emblematic of Liberty as depicted on a circulating coin of that era and a reverse image emblematic of themes of that President's life. This is true for the coins for Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan's First Ladies, but not the coin for Chester A. Arthur's First Lady, which instead depicts suffragette Alice Paul.

List of United States First Lady firsts

This list lists achievements and distinctions of various First Ladies of the United States. It includes distinctions achieved in their earlier life and post-First Lady service.There have been forty-two official First Ladies and forty-five First Ladyships. This discrepancy exists because some presidents remarried while in office and some weren't married so had no official First Lady.

Also note that First Ladies not recognized by the National First Ladies' Library listing include Martha Jefferson Randolph, Emily Donelson, Sarah Yorke Jackson, Angelica Van Buren, Priscilla Tyler, Mary McElroy, Rose Cleveland, Mary McKee, and Margaret Woodrow Wilson.

List of children of the Presidents of the United States

This is a list of children of U.S. Presidents, including stepchildren and alleged illegitimate children. All full names with married names are given. Currently there are 31 confirmed, known living presidential children, the oldest Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, the youngest confirmed Barron Trump. Two presidential children, John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush, have become president in their own right.

Presidential children have been studied individually and as a class. As individuals they are more often notable in their own right than most individuals: They disproportionately circulate among political and social leaders and the wealthier classes, and they are more likely to be scrutinized as part of celebrity culture. Additionally, as individuals they frequently have significant influence on other notable family members. So, for instance, a child who may appear otherwise non-notable as an individual may, in fact, have had a significant influence on the child's parent: acting as a sounding board, or having behavioral issues that affected the parent's beliefs or performance. John Scott Harrison is the only person to be both the child and the parent of a U.S. President, being the son of William Henry Harrison and the father of Benjamin Harrison.

As a class, the children of presidents have also occasioned significant study. Study has generally followed two paths: The issue of what access and inclusion within the circles of power does to individuals' lives, aspirations, and outcomes; and the issue of their influence on society and politics.

Mary Harrison McKee

Mary Scott Harrison McKee (April 3, 1858 – October 28, 1930) was the only daughter of President Benjamin Harrison and his wife Caroline Scott Harrison. After her mother died in 1892, McKee served as her father's de facto First Lady for the remainder of his term.

Married with children by the time her father was elected as president, Mary and her family lived at the White House during her father's term. She assisted by serving as a hostess.

Oxford, Ohio

Oxford is a city in Butler County, Ohio, United States, in the southwestern portion of the state approximately 28 mi (46 km) NW of Cincinnati. It lies in Oxford Township, originally called the College Township. The population was 21,371 at the 2010 census. This college town was founded as a home for Miami University. In 2014, Oxford was rated by Forbes as the "Best College Town" in the United States, based on a high percentage of students per capita and part-time jobs, and a low occurrence of brain-drain.

Oxford Female College

Oxford Female College was one of three women's colleges in Oxford, Ohio in the 19th Century. The college merged with the Oxford Female Institute, forming the Oxford College for Women which existed as an independent school until it merged with Miami University in 1928. John Witherspoon Scott, father of future first lady Caroline Harrison was the first president of the college following his tenure as president of the Oxford Female Institute. He served until 1859. The Oxford Female College building later became a sanitorium and then a Miami University residence Hall known as Fisher Hall. Notable Fisher Hall faculty residents were professors Walter Havighurst and Joseph M. Bachelor. The building, designed by Cincinnati architect James Keys Wilson, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and despite vigorous opposition by local preservationists and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it was demolished to make way for Miami's Marcum Conference Center.

Russell Benjamin Harrison

Russell Benjamin Harrison (August 12, 1854 – December 13, 1936), also known as Russell Lord Harrison, was a businessman, lawyer, diplomat, and politician. Harrison was the son of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison and Caroline Harrison, and the great-grandson of U.S. President William Henry Harrison.

White House Christmas tree

The White House Christmas Tree, also known as the Blue Room Christmas Tree, is the official indoor Christmas tree at the residence of the President of the United States, the White House. The first indoor Christmas tree was installed in the White House sometime in the 19th century (there are varying claims as to the exact year) and since 1961 the tree has had a themed motif at the discretion of the First Lady of the United States.

White House china

The White House china refers to the various patterns of china (porcelain) used for serving and eating food in the White House, home of the president of the United States. Different china services have been ordered and used by different presidential administrations. The White House collection of china is housed in the White House China Room. Not every administration created its own service, but portions of all china services created for the White House are now in the China Room collection. Some of the older china services are used for small private dinners in the President's Dining Room on the Second Floor.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.