Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833 March 13, 1901) was an American lawyer and politician 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, and a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, a founding father who signed the United States Declaration of Independence.

Benjamin Harrison
Benjamin Harrison c. 1895–1900
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
Born(1833-08-20)August 20, 1833
North Bend, Ohio, U.S.
DiedMarch 13, 1901(1901-03-13) (aged 67)
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Cause of deathPneumonia
Resting placeCrown Hill Cemetery
Political party
Spouse(s)
    (m. 1853; died 1892)
      (m. 1896)
      Children
      Relatives
      Education
      Occupation
      • Politician
      • lawyer
      Signature
      Military service
      Allegiance United States
      Branch/service United States Army (Union Army)
      Years of service1862–1865
      Rank
      UnitArmy of the Cumberland
      Commands
      Battles/warsAmerican Civil War

      Harrison was born on a farm by the Ohio River and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After moving to Indianapolis, he established himself as a prominent local attorney, Presbyterian church leader, and politician in 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 midterm elections. Cleveland defeated Harrison for reelection in 1892, due to the growing unpopularity of high tariffs and high federal spending. He returned to private life and his law practice in Indianapolis. In 1899 he represented Venezuela in its British Guiana boundary dispute with 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. Many have praised Harrison's commitment to African Americans' voting rights, but scholars and historians generally regard his administration as below average due to its corruption, as well as focused criticism on his signing of the McKinley Tariff. They rank him in the bottom half among U.S. presidents, though they do not question his commitment to personal and official integrity.