Friday, November 1, 2013

Benjamin Harrison

This Presidential Friday covers our 23rd president, a relatively obscure commander-in-chief that broke up Grover Cleveland's two terms, Benjamin Harrison. Though he lost the election to Grover Cleveland by popular vote (falling 100,000 votes behind), he won the electoral college by 233 to 168 and therefore ascended to the presidency.


Benjamin Harrison, a Republican, is best remembered for his economic policies. His economics did not span the whole of his focus as President- he oversaw the readmission of six states into the Union, unsuccessfully argued for federal funding to educate and protect the voting rights of African Americans, faced a minor fishing rights crisis with Canada, favored assimilation of Native Americans, and sought but failed to achieve annexation of Hawaii.

A large controversy of the time was the merit system vs. the spoils system- should political office post-election be awarded based on who deserves the job or based on who loyally voted with the party, respectively? Harrison was a strong proponent of the merit system. Harrison also created the "largest expenditure of its kind to that point in American history" by providing a strong pension system to all disabled veterans.


High tariffs during Harrison's presidency gave the government a surplus, which caused no small amount of ire amongst Democrats, who wished for tariffs to be lowered. Harrison's administration also created the Sherman Anti-trust Act, dedicated to breaking up monopolies and representing a new federal power, though the act did little during Harrison's presidency.

His term marked the first term federal spending reached one billion dollars, leading to the nickname "Billion Dollar Congress."


He is the first president to have his voice preserved, by way of a 36-second recording. He is also the only president to be the grandson of another president- one William Henry Harrison. Though Benjamin Harrison did not win reelection, he oversaw an interesting presidential term.

Sources: Wikipedia, White,

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