PRESIDENT #23 – BENJAMIN HARRISON

Between Grover Cleveland’s two terms, Benjamin Harrison (grandson of William Harrison #9) served as president. Like the elder Harrison, Benjamin lived in Indiana – but in Indianapolis rather than the western part of the state.

William’s son and Bejamin’s father, John Harrison, also was on his way to political success, but was waylaid because he had to run his father’s estate. (If you remember, William was president for only 31 days and 12 hours before he died of a cold virus.)

Benjamin was born in Ohio and was homeschooled on his parents’ 600-acre farm until he was 14 and was sent to private school to ready him for college. He attended Miami University which was close to home and began his law career at the early age of 21.  At that time he had already married Carrie Scott. His law practice was successful and all was well, but then the army interrupted his plans and he advanced to the rank of brigadier general during the Civil War.

Once back home, he bought the property on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis and began building his 16-room house.  His political career took off slowly with him becoming a Senator in 1881, but he was not elected for a second term. He didn’t care. He loved his Indiana home.

In fact, on the night he the presidential votes were cast, he stayed awake long enough to hear that the Indiana votes had gone to him – and then he went to bed without waiting to hear how the rest of the nation voted.

After his presidency, he came back to Indianapolis and lived on North Delaware Street until his death in 1901.

Harrison’s wife, Carrie (Caroline) was a preacher’s kid and well educated.

One of her accomplishments as First Lady was getting rid of the rats in the White House basement, something many others had tried, but had been able to actually do. (What a way to be remembered.)

She also updated the kitchen, had more bathrooms installed and had the White House wired for electricity – but was afraid to touch the switches, so the lights would stay on all night and the servants would turn them off in the morning.

She was also an accomplished artist. We bought one of her prints and had it hanging up in our home – a painting of a vacation spot in Cape May, New Jersey.

Ken and I visited the Harrison house on the way to a Children’s Ministry Conference south of Indy.  I remember the summer was very dry – we were having a drought – look at the lawn in the pictures. It was literally (except for small plants around the house) dead and brown.

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