Benjamin Harrison was nominated at the Republican Convention of
1888 on the eight ballot of the party. He was the first candidate to have
conducted a front porch campaign in which he delivered short speeches in
Indianapolis, to commission that visited him. The Democrats sarcastically called
him the “Little Ben” as he was short (only five and a half feet). To
this, he serenely replied he was adequate big to wear the hat of “Old
Tippecanoe”, his grandfather.
He was born in the year 1833 on a farm at the banks of the Ohio River. He
attended the Miami University, Ohio and studied law in Cincinnati. He practiced
law when he moved to Indianapolis and started campaigning for the Republican
Party. In 1853, he married Caroline Lavinia Scott. He was the Colonel of 70th
Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War and when the war ended, he became a highly
reputed man of Indianapolis, also becoming famous as a great lawyer.
In 1876, he was defeated by the Democrats for the office of Governor of Indiana.
The Democrats used the term “Kid Gloves” Harrison to reduce his
reputation as a leader. He served as a member of the United States Senate in
1880’s. During this period, he championed homesteaders, Civil War Veterans
Harrison was outnumbered by a hundred thousand popular votes by Cleveland in the
Presidential Election in 1889. However, he received 233 Electoral votes to
Cleveland’s 168, that made him the President. Harrison did not make any
political bargains before the elections, although his supporters pledged immense
support for him.Harrison helped to shape a vigorous foreign policy of which he
was proud of. The 1st Pan American Congress met in 1883, in Washington and
established an information center that later became Pan American Union.
Harrison signed a large number of appropriation bills for naval expansion,
internal improvements, to give subsidiaries for steamship lines. Almost a
billion dollars was appropriated by the Congress for the first time except in
the Civil War. When the critics spoke of the congress as “the billion
dollar Congress”, the Speaker Reed said, “This is a billion dollar
Harrison signed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, “for the protection of
commerce and trade in opposition to the unlawful monopolies and restraints”,
the first Federal act that attempted to regulate trust.
Harrison’s biggest domestic problem during his term was the issue of
tariff. The tariff r
ates were high that had created an extra amount of money in the Treasury. The
low tariff supporters advocated that the treasury was filled at the cost of
businesses. Although, the tariff rates were further increased, Nelson Aldrich
and William McKinley made a yet higher tariff bill.
Harrison tried in order to make the high rates acceptable by increasing some
provisions. Also, the Treasury was removed from the raw sugar that was imported,
and the sugar growers in United States were given 2 cents per pound reward on
their production.During the last period of Harrison’s term, he signed a
treaty to annex Hawaii. However, President Cleveland withdrew it later. Harrison
retired to Indianapolis after he left the office and married Mary Dimmick. He
died in 1901 at the age of 68.