Benjamin Harrison 23rd President, 1889-1893

Birthplace, North Bend, Ohio
As a member of a family that had been active in politics for three generations preceding him, it is hardly surprising that Benjamin Harrison followed the footsteps of his distinguished ancestors. His great-grandfather, Benjamin Harrison V, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a three-term governor of Virginia. President Benjamin Harrison was born at the North Bend, Ohio home of his grandfather, the ninth president, William Henry Harrison, on August 20, 1833.

The “Big House,” as the birthplace home was called, had sixteen rooms with clapboard siding and had wainscoting on the interior walls. Sadly, the home was destroyed by fire in 1858 while President William Henry Harrison’s wife, Anna, was still living there. Shortly after his birth, Benjamin Harrison’s father, John Scott Harrison, an Ohio congressman who was the only man in American history to be both son and father of a president, moved with his family to “The Point,” a brick two-story farm house situated on six hundred acres of land in North Bend. This house deteriorated and was razed in 1959, despite attempts by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to save it.

Benjamin had a relatively comfortable rural upbringing in North Bend, Ohio. As a child, he hunted, fished, hauled wood, tended livestock, and studied at home with private tutors. Being surrounded by family and friends gave Benjamin a sense of order and self-assurance that he carried with him throughout his life. This mark of confidence, however, translated into what others perceived as arrogance. Harrison developed a stiff and formal personality-so aloof was he as president that even his own staff privately spoke of him as the “human iceberg.”

Home, Indianapolis, Indiana
Whether you are a political campaign memorabilia buff, an historian or an antique enthusiast – The President Benjamin Harrison Home, which is now a museum dedicated to his life, is a must see when visiting Indianapolis. Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States from 1889 to 1893. He was President 100 years after George Washington, which made him the Centennial President. The Harrison Home houses some 3,700 artifacts and 2,440 books. About 75% of the artifacts in the home actually belonged to the Harrison’s. In the home the visitors see ten of the rooms with period furnishings and Harrison items. The third floor, originally a ball room, houses exhibits. A new exhibit opens every six months with Harrison Home artifacts and borrowed artifacts. Textiles, dresses, and other artifacts are displayed through out the house.

Gravesite, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana
Benjamin Harrison, the last Civil War general to serve as president, died from pneumonia on March 13, 1901, at his home in Indianapolis. He had spent the years since his presidency as an “elder statesman.” Harrison delivered a series of lectures on constitutional law at Stanford University and served with energy and dedication as chief counsel for Venezuela in its boundary dispute with British Guiana.

The poet James Whitcomb Riley, also buried at Crown Hill Cemetery, in his funeral eulogy for Harrison, depicted the dead president as a man both fearless and just. Years later, the American intellectual, Henry Adams, spoke of Harrison as “the best president since Lincoln.” Harrison was buried next to his first wife at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. He left the bulk of his estate, valued at about $400,000, to his second wife, whom he had married after leaving the White House, and their four-year-old daughter.

Crown Hill Cemetery, founded in 1863, is the fourth largest cemetery in America. The history of Indiana and the United States is reflected in its monuments. President Benjamin Harrison, Vice-Presidents Charles Fairbanks, Thomas Hendricks, and Thomas Marshall, innovators Richard Gatling and Colonel Eli Lilly, author Booth Tarkington and poet James Whitcomb Riley are among the many political, commercial, and literary leaders buried within its bounds. Crown Hill is the only cemetery in Indiana listed on the National Register of Historic Places.