Benjamin Harrison (1833 – 1901)
The 23rd President of the United States, 1889 – 1893
AKA: The Front Porch Campaigner, The Human Iceberg
College: Miami University (of Ohio)
Married to: Caroline Lavinia Scott
Children: Russell Benjamin and Mary “Mamie” Scott Harrison
Previous Jobs: Lawyer, City Attorney, Reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, Brigadier General, US Senator
In His Words: “”Come on, boys! We’ve never been licked yet, and we won’t begin now.” – at the battle of Peach Tree Creek.
“We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.”
“I knew that my staying up would not change the election result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night’s rest was best in any event.”
“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”
Not true: His Great Grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his Grandfather was President … but Benjamin Harrison was not born into a life of privilege. He grew up on a farm in Ohio with his father. His first school was a small log cabin, where he sat on seats made of planks with no backs, and so high that his feet did not touch the floor. He only attended school in the winter, as in the summer he had to work on the farm.
True: Although he could warmly engage a crowd with his speeches, he was cold and detached when speaking with people on an individual basis.
Benjamin Harrison had the White House wired for electricity, but he and his wife would not touch the switches for fear of electrocution. The frequently slept with the lights on.
Six new states were admitted to the Union during Harrison’s tenure: North Dakota (1889), South Dakota (1889), Montana (1889), Washington(1889), Idaho (1890) and Wyoming (1890).
Theodore Roosevelt called Harrison “a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid old psalm-singing Indianapolis politician.”
Harrison was, regretfully, America’s last bearded president.
The Official Portrait: Eastman Johnson painted the official White House portrait of Benjamin Harrison in 1895. He also painted the official portrait of Grover Cleveland, who both preceded and succeeded Benjamin Harrison as President of the United States.
Johnson was a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and is best known for his portrayals of everyday people.
This charcoal and chalk sketch on paper is owned by the National Portrait Gallery, and is thought to be an early working drawing for the painting that now hangs in the White House.