Benjamin Harrison

Topics: Benjamin Harrison, William Henry Harrison, Grover Cleveland Pages: 6 (1756 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Steven Shamlian, Anubhav Kaul

Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd president of the United States, from 1889-1893. He was 56 when he was elected president. Benjamin Harrison was born to a Presbyterian family on Aug. 20, 1833, on his grandfather's farm in North Bend, Ohio. He was named for his great-grandfather, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His grandfather was William Henry Harrison, the 9th president. Ben was the second of the 10 children of John Scott Harrison and Elizabeth Irwin Harrison. Harrison attended Farmers' College in a Cincinnati suburb for three years. While a freshman, he met his future wife, Caroline Lavinia Scott. Harrison and "Carrie" Scott were married in 1853. They had two children, Russell Benjamin and Mary. One year before their marriage, he graduated with distinction from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 1854, Harrison passed the bar exam and moved to Indianapolis. In Indianapolis, he practiced law and campaigned for the Republican Party. In 1860, he was elected reporter of the Indiana Supreme Court. A deeply religious man, Harrison taught Sunday school. He became a deacon of the Presbyterian Church in 1857, and was elected the elder of the church in 1861.

In 1862, Governor Olive P. Morton asked Harrison to recruit and command the 70th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers in the Civil War. Harrison accepted the challenge. He was a fearless commander and rose to the rank of brigadier General "foe ability and manifest energy and gallantry in command of brigade." After the war, Harrison won national prestige as a lawyer. President Hayes appointed him to the Mississippi River Commission in 1879, and he held this post until 1881. Harrison turned down a post in the cabinet of President Garfield because he was elected to the U.S. Senate in January 1881. During his tem in the Senate, Harrison upheld civil service reform, a protective tariff, a stronger navy, and regulation of railroads. He made speeches in favor for the restriction of Chinese immigration and against the importation of contract labor. He criticized President Cleveland's vetoes of veterans' pension bills. Harrison was looking forward to a second term in senate, but was defeated by Indiana's Democratic legislature by one vote.

James G. Blaine, who had lost the 1884 election to Cleveland, refused to run in 1888. The Republicans nominated Harrison to represent their party, partly because of his war record and his popularity with the veterans. Levi P. Morton was, a New York City banker, was nominated as the vice-president. The Democrats re-nominated Cleveland and named Allen G. Thurman as his running mate. Harrison supported high tariffs. Cleveland called for low tariffs, but did not campaign actively because he felt I was beneath the dignity of the presidency.

Nominated for the presidency by the Republicans in 1888, he lost the popular vote by 5,444,337 to Cleveland's 5,540,309 but won the election by outpolling Cleveland in the electoral college by 233 electoral votes to Cleveland's 168. Harrison's victory in the Electoral College owed much to lavish spending by his campaign in the crucial swing states of New York and Indiana.

During his inaugural speech, Harrison stressed the idea of westward expansion and state formation. He cheered the Emancipation Proclamation and said that the South had no reason to drop in production just because slave labor was hindered. Harrison wanted the devastated South to grow and in economic success like the North. He did not want the South to be a Congress or President governed society, Harrison wanted to assure them with state rights. He thinks that it is wise to remain neutral in European affairs and conflicts for their own benefit. He believed that calmness, justice, and consideration should characterize our diplomacy. Harrison agreed to the idea that Presidents should have the luxury of choosing officers in cabinet positions or as ambassadors. He wanted to...
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