The New International Encyclopædia/Harrison, Benjamin (President)

HARRISON, BENJAMIN (1833–1901). The twenty-third President of the United States, born at North Bend, Ohio, August 20, 1833. His father, John Scott Harrison (1804–78), a son of President William Henry Harrison, represented the Whigs in Congress from 1853 to 1857. Benjamin passed his early years on his father's farm, studied two years at Farmers College, at College Hill, near Cincinnati; graduated at Miami University in 1852 as fourth in his class, and after studying law in Cincinnati, married the daughter of Rev. J. W. Scott, and settled in Indianapolis in 1854. In 1860 he was elected reporter of the Supreme Court of Indiana, and in a political debate with Thomas A. Hendricks soon afterwards acquired reputation as a speaker. He entered the Federal Army as second lieutenant in July, 1862, assisted in organizing the Seventieth Indiana Regiment, was promoted in August, 1862, to be colonel, served in Kentucky and Tennessee, led a charge at Resaca, Ga., May 15, 1864, in which one-third of his command was killed or disabled; commanded his brigade with signal bravery at Kenesaw Mountain, June 29, to July 3, 1864, and at Peachtree Creek, July 20; took part in the operations around Nashville, and on January 23, 1865, was brevetted brigadier-general of volunteers “for ability and manifest energy and gallantry in command of brigade.” Returning to civil life, he resumed his occupation of reporter of the Supreme Court, but in 1868 declined reëlection. In 1876 he was the Republican candidate for Governor of Indiana, but was defeated, though running 2000 votes ahead of his ticket. In 1878 he was appointed a member of the Mississippi River Commission. In 1880 he was elected United States Senator, taking his seat March 4, 1881, and during his term of office opposed alien ownership of large tracts of land and the Blair Educational Bill; favored civil-service reform; and was one of a committee to perfect and report a bill restricting Chinese immigration. In 1888, at the Republican Convention in Chicago, he was nominated for the Presidency, receiving 84 votes on the first ballot, 217 on the fourth, and 544 on the eighth. In the ensuing election he received 233 electoral votes to Cleveland's 168, Levi P. Morton, of New York, being elected Vice-President. His administration was marked by no especially conspicuous features; but during it the Pan-American Congress, the initiation of the policy of commercial reciprocity (q.v.), and the attempt to annex Hawaii to the United States attracted much attention. The industrial situation was much altered by the McKinley Tariff of October 1, 1890; the public debt was reduced, and a stable national currency maintained; civil-service reform was extended; the Louisiana Lottery was abolished; the condition of both the army and the navy was improved; and many highly creditable appointments to office were made, especially in the Federal judiciary. In the summer of 1892 Harrison's Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine (q.v.), resigned and became an avowed candidate for the Presidential nomination; but Harrison was again nominated, only to be defeated in the election by his predecessor, Grover Cleveland (q.v.), receiving 145 electoral votes. After leaving office he accepted a professorship of international law at the Leland Stanford University, California. During the remaining years of his life he devoted himself to the practice of law, being retained in several cases of national importance, and in 1899 appearing as counsel for Venezuela before the commission appointed to arbitrate the boundary dispute with England. He was the principal representative of the United States at The Hague Conference (1899). His death occurred after a brief illness, at Indianapolis, March 13, 1901. He wrote numerous magazine articles, made a number of able speeches on public occasions, and published This Country of Ours (1897), in which he gave an interesting description of the practical workings of the National Government. Another book, Views of an Ex-President, was published posthumously in 1901. Consult: Wilson (editor). The Presidents of the United States (New York, 1894); and the campaign biography by Lew Wallace, Life of General Benjamin Harrison (Philadelphia, 1886). For an account of Harrison's Administration, see the article United States.