Messages and Papers of Benjamin Harrison

Author: Benjamin Harrison

Messages and Papers of

March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1898

BENJAMIN HARRISON, twenty-third President of the United States, was born at North Bend, Ohio, August 20, 1833. His father, John Scott Harrison, was the third son of General William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States, who was the third and youngest son of Benjamin Harrison, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. John Scott Harrison was twice married, his second wife being Elizabeth, daughter of Archibald Irwin, of Mercersburg, Pa. Benjamin was the second son of this marriage. His parents were resolutely determined upon the education of their children, and early in childhood Benjamin was placed under private instruction at home. In 1847 he and his elder brother were sent to a school on what was known as College Hill, a few miles from Cincinnati. After remaining there two years entered the junior class at Miami University, at Oxford, Ohio, where he was graduated in 1852. Was married October 20, 1853, to Caroline Scott, daughter of Dr. John W. Scott, who was then president of Oxford Female Seminary, from which Mrs. Harrison was graduated in 1852. After studying law under Storer & Gwynne in Cincinnati, Mr. Harrison was admitted to the bar in 1854, and began the practice of his profession at Indianapolis, Ind., which has since been his home. Was appointed crier of the Federal court, at a salary of $2.50 per day. This was the first money he had ever earned. Jonathan W. Gordon, one of the leaders of the Indianapolis bar, called young Harrison to his assistance in the prosecution of a criminal tried for burglary, and intrusted to him the plea for the State. He had taken ample notes of the evidence, but the case was closed at night, and the court-house being dimly lighted by tallow candles, he was unable to read them when he arose to address the court and jury. Laying them aside, he depended entirely upon his memory and found it perfect. He made an eloquent plea, produced a marked impression, and won the case. Since then he has always been an impromptu speaker. Formed a partnership later with William Wallace, but in 1860 the latter became clerk of Marion County, and the firm was changed to Harrison & Fishback, which was terminated by the entry of the senior partner into the Army in 1862. Waschosen reporter of the supreme court of Indiana in 1860 on the Republican ticket. This was his first active appearance in the political field. When the Civil War began assisted in raising the Seventieth Indiana Regiment of Volunteers, taking a second lieutenant’s commission and raising Company A of that regiment. Governor Morton tendered him the command of the regiment and he was commissioned its colonel. Mr. Harrison appointed a deputy reporter for the supreme court. In the ensuing autumn the Democratic State committee, considering his position as a civil officer vacated by this military appointment, nominated and elected a successor, although his term of office had not expired. Their view was sustained by the State supreme court; but in 1864, while Colonel Harrison was in the Army, the people of Indiana gave their judgment by reelecting him to the position of supreme-court reporter by an overwhelming majority. In 1862 the Seventieth Indiana went into the field with Harrison as its colonel, their objective point being Bowling Green, Ky. It was brigaded with the Seventy-ninth Ohio and the One hundred and second, One hundred and fifth, and One hundred and twenty-ninth Illinois regiments, under Brigadier-General Ward, of Kentucky, and this organization was kept unchanged until the close of the war. Colonel Harrison had the right of the brigade, and his command was occupied at first in guarding railroads and hunting guerrillas, his energies being largely spent in drilling his men. When General Rosecrans set out for Chattanooga General Ward was sent on duty to Nashville, and on January 2, 1864, his command was called to the front. Later this brigade became the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Twentieth Army Corps, under General Hooker, General Ward resuming its command. The campaign under General Sherman, upon which his regiment with its associate forces entered, was directed, as is now known, against the Confederate army of General Joseph E. Johnston, and not against any particular place. In the Federal advance one of the severest actions was fought at Resaca, Ga., May 14 and 15, 1864, and the Seventieth Indiana led the assault. His regiment participated in the fights at New Hope Church and at Golgotha Church, Kenesaw Mountain, and Peach Tree Creek. When Atlanta was taken by Sherman, September 2, 1864, Colonel Harrison received his first furlough to visit home, being assigned to special duty in a canvass of the State to recruit for the forces in the field. Returning to Chattanooga and then to Nashville, he was placed in command of a provisional brigade held in reserve at the battle at the latter place (December 15 and 16, 1864), and was but little engaged. When the fight was over he was sent in pursuit of the Confederate general Hood. Recalled from that pursuit, was next ordered to report to General Sherman at Savannah. While passing through New York he succumbed to an attack of scarlet fever, but in a few weeks was able to proceed on his way. Joining Sherman at Goldsboro, N. C., resumed command of his old brigade, and at the close of the war went with it to Washingtonto take part in the grand review of the armies. Was duly mustered out of the service June 8, 1865, not, however, until he had received a commission as brevet brigadier-general, dated January 23, 1865. Returning to Indianapolis after the war, resumed his office of reporter of the supreme court, but in 1867 declined a renomination, preferring to devote himself exclusively to the practice of law. Became a member of the firm of Porter, Harrison & Fishback, and, after subsequent changes, of that of Harrison, Miller & Elam. Took part in 1868 and 1871 in the Presidential campaigns in support of General Grant, traveling over Indiana and speaking to large audiences. In 1876 at first declined a nomination for governor on the Republican ticket, consenting to run only after the regular nominee had withdrawn. In this contest he received almost 2,000 more votes than his associates, but was defeated. Was a member of the Mississippi River Commission in 1879. In 1880, as chairman of the Indiana delegation in the Republican national convention, he cast nearly the entire vote of the State for James A. Garfield for President. President Garfield offered him a place in his Cabinet, but he declined it, preferring the United States Senatorship from Indiana, to which he had just been chosen, and which he held from 1881 to 1887. In the Senate he advocated the tariff views of his party, opposed President Cleveland’s vetoes of pension bills, urged the reconstruction and upbuilding of the Navy, and labored and voted for civil-service reform. Was a delegate at large to the Republican national convention in 1884, and in 1888 at Chicago was nominated for the Presidency on the eighth ballot. The nomination was made unanimous, and in November he was elected, receiving 233 electoral votes to 168 for Grover Cleveland. Was inaugurated March 4, 1889. Was again nominated for the Presidency at the national Republican convention which met at Minneapolis in 1892, but was defeated at the November election, receiving 145 electoral votes, against 276 votes for Grover Cleveland. Upon his retiring from office located at Indianapolis, Ind., where he now resides.


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Chicago: Benjamin Harrison, "Title Page," Messages and Papers of Benjamin Harrison in 5439–5440. Original Sources, accessed May 26, 2024,

MLA: Harrison, Benjamin. "Title Page." Messages and Papers of Benjamin Harrison, in , pp. 5439–5440. Original Sources. 26 May. 2024.

Harvard: Harrison, B, 'Title Page' in Messages and Papers of Benjamin Harrison. cited in , , pp.5439–5440. Original Sources, retrieved 26 May 2024, from