Learning about Lesser Known Presidents: Benjamin Harrison

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When was the last time you had a conversation about the 23rd President of the United States Benjamin Harrison? It has probably been a while, which is understandable. His single term in office has been routinely categorized as ‘uneventful’ while historians often regard him as a below-average president. You don’t have to take their word for it! After reading our brief bio on Benjamin Harrison, decide what you think about the effectiveness of his presidency!

Before his term as president, Benjamin Harrison, who hailed from Indianapolis, Indiana, worked as an attorney, politician, and was as a leader in the local Presbyterian church. During the Civil War he fought for the Union serving as a colonel.

President Harrison’s term in office began on March 4, 1889. He defeated Democratic incumbent Grover Cleveland in the general election. Instead of touring around the country as modern presidential hopefuls do, Benjamin Harrison ran his election bid from his from front porch in Indianapolis where he gave out over ninety pronouncements. President Harrison’s inauguration took place during a torrential downpour. Learning from the mistake of his predecessor William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison gave a rather short address before retreating inside.

President Harrison was a staunch supporter of civil rights. Throughout his administration he fought to attain voting rights for African Americans. He also supported federal education reforms which would provide funding to underprivileged families. Unfortunately, he was largely unsuccessful in reaching any of these goals.

President Harrison also attempted to lower harsh tariffs which had been put in place following the Civil War. He met with some mild success. However, federal spending during his term rose above the one billion dollar mark for the first time in the nation’s history. Despite the fact that the American economy was currently running a surplus, this was considered reckless and the spending was widely derided. Largely because of this, he was unable to secure a second term in office.

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