Served: March 4, 1889 – March 4, 1893
Born: August 20, 1833
Birthplace: North Bend, Ohio
Died: March 13, 1901
Political Party: Whig (pre-1856), Republican (1856-1901)
Spouses: Caroline Scott, Mary Dimmick
Benjamin Harrison: Following in His Grandfather’s Footsteps
Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president of the United States who became a well-known Indiana politician and served as brigadier general during the Civil War.
His grandfather was William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, and during his presidency he focused on economic legislation, education, and African-American voting rights.
Harrison served only one term, smack dab in the middle of Grover Cleveland’s two nonconsecutive terms; after Harrison’s presidential term ended, he retired from politics and went back to practicing law in Indiana.
An Early Emphasis on Education
Harrison belonged to a distinguished family and political lineage. Besides his presidential grandfather, his great-grandfather had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence. While his parents came from a more down-to-earth background, they took their children’s education seriously and spent most of their income on their schooling.
Harrison attended Farmer’s College, then transferred to Miami University and was a part of Phi Delta Theta and Delta Chi fraternities. After college, he studied law and apprenticed at a law office in Cincinnati, Ohio. Harrison was admitted to the Indiana bar and opened a few law practices there. During the Civil War, he left his practices and joined the Army.
Harrison married Caroline Lavinia Scott in 1853, and they raised two children, a boy and a girl.
Benjamin Harrison’s Pets
- Dogs including Dash, a collie
- Old Whiskers, the billy goat belonging to grandchildren
- Two opossums, Mr. Reciprocity and Mr. Protection
MORE PETS! Check out our photo gallery of selected White House pets
One-Term Presidential Administration
Harrison served in the Senate in the 1880s, and during his time there he publicized campaign causes for veterans, homesteaders, and Native Americans. He won the presidential election based on electoral votes; however, he carried fewer popular votes than Cleveland.
During his presidency, Harrison signed the Sherman Antitrust Act into law, the first federally approved to regulate trusts. Although there was a surplus of money in the treasury when Harrison was in office, the surplus dwindled — by the end of his term, an economic depression had hit the nation.
Although no new states had been admitted into the Union before Harrison’s presidency, six states were admitted during his term:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The only other president to have more states admitted during his term was George Washington.
Did You Know…?
- Harrison was nicknamed “Little Ben” by the Democrats because of his small stature; he was only 5′ 6″ tall.
- Harrison was in favor of annexing Hawaii and even submitted a treaty to the Senate before leaving office. A new government had been formed after Queen Liliuokalani’s coup d’état, and Harrison became interested in establishing a Pearl Harbor–based naval base. However, his term ended before the Senate acted on his treaty and Cleveland, recognizing Hawaii’s sovereignty, withdrew the treaty.
- Two weeks before the 1892 election, Harrison’s wife died of tuberculosis. Harrison later remarried Mary Dimmick, who was also a widow.