Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833 - March 13, 1901) was the 23rd (1889
- 1893) President of the United States.
Term of Office:
March 4 , 1889 - March 4 , 1893
Date of Birth
August 20 , 1833
Place of Birth:
North Bend . Ohio
Date of Death:
March 13 , 1901
Place of Death:
Indianapolis , Indiana
First Ladies :
Caroline Lavinia Harrison (wife)
Mary Harrison (daughter)
Political Party :
Vice President :
Levi P. Morton
A grandson of President William Henry Harrison , Benjamin was born in North
Bend , Hamilton County, Ohio . He attended Miami University , Oxford, Ohio
, where he was a member of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta , and graduated
in 1852 . He studied law in Cincinnati then moved to Indianapolis in 1854
. He was admitted to the bar and became reporter of the decisions of the
supreme court of the State.
Harrison served in the Union Army during the Civil War , brevetting
as a brigadier general , and mustering out in 1865 . While in the field
in October 1864 he was re-elected reporter of the State supreme court and
served four years. He was an unsuccessful Republican candidate for Governor
of Indiana in 1876 . He was appointed a member of the Mississippi River
Commission in 1879 , and elected as a Republican to the United States Senate
, where he served from March 4 , 1881 , to March 3 , 1887 . He was chairman
of the Committee on Transportation Routes to the Seaboard (Forty-seventh
Congress) and Committee on Territories (Forty-eighth and Forty-ninth Congresses).
Harrison was elected President of the United States in 1888 . In the
Presidential election, Harrison received 100,000 fewer popular votes than
Cleveland, but carried the Electoral College 233 to 168. Although Harrison
had made no political bargains, his supporters had given innumerable pledges
upon his behalf. When Boss Matt Quay of Pennsylvania 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." He was inaugurated on March 4
, 1889 , and served until March 4 , 1893 .
Harrison was proud of the vigorous foreign policy which he helped shape.
The first Pan American Congress met in Washington in 1889, establishing
an information center which later became the Pan American Union. At the
end of his administration Harrison submitted to the Senate a treaty to
annex Hawaii; to his disappointment, President Cleveland later withdrew
it. Even though American involvement in the Hawaiian Revolution was
minimal, Cleveland attempted to use the matter to shed a negative light
on Harrison's foriegn policy.
Substantial appropriation bills were signed by Harrison for internal
improvements, naval expansion, and subsidies for steamship lines. For the
first time except in war, Congress appropriated a billion dollars. When
critics attacked "the billion-dollar Congress," Speaker Thomas B. Reed
replied, "This is a billion-dollar country." President Harrison also signed
the Sherman Anti-Trust Act "to protect trade and commerce against unlawful
restraints and monopolies," the first Federal act attempting to regulate
trusts. The most perplexing domestic problem Harrison faced was the tariff
issue. The high tariff rates in effect had created a surplus of money in
the Treasury. Low-tariff advocates argued that the surplus was hurting
business. Republican leaders in Congress successfully met the challenge.
Representative William McKinley and Senator Nelson W. Aldrich framed a
still higher tariff bill; some rates were intentionally prohibitive.
Harrison tried to make the tariff more acceptable by writing in reciprocity
provisions. To cope with the Treasury surplus, the tariff was removed from
imported raw sugar; sugar growers within the United States were given two
cents a pound bounty on their production.
Long before the end of the Harrison Administration, the Treasury surplus
had evaporated, and prosperity seemed about to disappear as well. Congressional
elections in 1890 went stingingly against the Republicans, and party leaders
decided to abandon President Harrison although he had cooperated with Congress
on party legislation. Nevertheless, his party renominated him in 1892 ,
but he was defeated by Cleveland.
He served as an attorney for the Republic of Venezuela in the boundary
dispute between Venezuela and the United Kingdom in 1900 .
After he left office, Harrison returned to Indianapolis, and married
the widowed Mrs. Mary Dimmick in 1896 . A dignified elder statesman, he
died in 1901 and is interred in Crown Hill Cemetery .