“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who makes the cloth will starve in the process.”
A President’s time in office is shaped not only by his personality, integrity, and leadership ability, but also by national and world events. During Benjamin Harrison’s Presidency, the country was rapidly changing. Large manufacturers opened factories and hired immigrants and even children to work long hours for little pay. The workers fought against their bosses for better conditions and formed labor unions.
Congress didn’t want the improvements Grover Cleveland had started. They refused to cooperate with Harrison too. The country’s economy fell into a recession near the end of Harrison’s term. And, Harrison’s wife died while he was in office.
- Benjamin Harrison was born August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio.
- Harrison grew up on his father’s farm. He was a good student and became a successful lawyer. Later, he organized a volunteer regiment during the Civil War. He became colonel of this group.
- Harrison’s father was a congressman; his grandfather had been President. Harrison understood his duty in office.
- Harrison married Caroline Lavinia Scott in 1853. After her death, he married her niece, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick. He had three children.
- Harrison was called, “The Human Iceberg,” because he seemed cold and reserved in public. In private, he was affectionate with his wife and children. He stayed home during his campaigns, inviting people to his home to listen to him talk.
- The Harrisons installed electric lights in the White House, but never used them because they were afraid of starting a fire.
- Benjamin Harrison died March 13, 1901 at the age of 67, just five years after leaving the White House.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Was it hard for Harrison to be elected when he wasn’t a “people” person?
Answer: People sometimes thought he was a little odd, but they respected him too. In the 1800s, politicians were less visible because there was no social media or television. People tended to vote based on issues or things they’d heard from friends and newspapers.
Visit the Benjamin Harrison Presidential site to learn more about the 23rd U.S. President.