• Benjamin Harrison was born and raised in Ohio. He was the great-grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the grandson of William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States.
• Harrison attended college in Ohio and studied law there before moving to Indiana to practice the profession. That’s where he also entered politics, serving as Indianapolis city attorney and holding various roles in the Republican party before serving in the military during the Civil War.
• After the war Harrison gained a more national political reputation for work he did supporting candidates like Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield. Hayes appointed Harrison to the Mississippi River Commission.
• Harrison was a United States Senator from Indiana before deciding to run for president.
How he defined the office
• The McKinley Tariff of 1890 (named for the future president, who was a congressman from Ohio at the time) was supported by President Harrison. The bill gave the president tremendous authority over foreign trade, and helped set a tone in foreign dealings that other presidents would follow in the 20th century.
• Harrison’s support of the McKinley Tariff as well as the Sherman Silver Purchase Act of 1890, passed in part to help gather support for the tariff, are believed to have contributed to the economic downturn of 1893, the greatest depression in American history to that point.
Successes and failures
• The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was supported by the Harrison administration. This was the first federal law to regulate giant corporations, which were beginning to monopolize the economy.
• He authorized America’s first forest reserve in Yellowstone, Wyoming, with the Land Revision Act of 1891.
• President Harrison continued the work started by President Arthur in expanding the Navy. While he was president the Navy grew to seven armored ships.
• Harrison lost the 1892 presidential election to the same man he defeated in the 1888 election, Grover Cleveland.
• “No other people have a government more worthy of their respect and love or a land so magnificent in extent, so pleasant to look upon, and so full of generous suggestion to enterprise and labor.”