The 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901), stood at only 5ft 6inches tall, making him the second shortest president after President James Madison. He was nicknamed “Little Ben” by his political opponents.
He was the last President to wear a beard in office.
Harrison was the last Civil War General to be president.
He was the first and only President whose grandfather was a president. Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of William Henry Harrison, the 9th President of the United States.
“Little Ben” was seven years old when his grandfather was elected president.
Harrison was the first president to use electricity in the White House; installed by Edison General Electric Company. However, he and his wife would not touch the light switches for fear of being electrocuted and often went to bed with the lights left on.
Like his grandfather, who gave the longest inaugural address in American history, Harrison was a big talker. Once, over a period of thirty days, he made 140 completely different speeches.
Benjamin Harrison was the first and only president from Indiana.
Harrison was known by some as the “human iceberg” because he was often very formal and stiff when dealing with people.
On November 2, 1889, President Harrison signed the proclamations admitting North and South Dakota to the Union. Due to a rivalry which existed between the two states, Harrison ordered the papers to be shuffled and for the names to be hidden from him while signing so there would be no argument over which he signed first. We don’t actually know which one was signed first because it was never recorded. However, since North Dakota is before South Dakota alphabetically, its proclamation was printed first in the Statutes At large, thus North Dakota has always been considered the 39th State.
In the Election of 1888, Harrison lost the popular vote by 90,000 votes but won in the Electoral College by a margin of 233 to 168, giving him the presidency.
For the first time in history, during Harrison’s administration, Congress appropriated $1 billion in annual spending. Critics labelled them, “The billion-dollar Congress” and Speaker Thomas P. Reed replied, “This is a billion-dollar country.”
Harrison was the first president known to have his voice preserved. In 1889, a thirty-six-second speech was recorded on a wax phonograph cylinder.
He was the first President to lose to a former President. Benjamin Harrison defeated the incumbent President Grover Cleveland in the election of 1888. However, in his bid for re-election in 1892, Harrison was defeated by Cleveland making it the only time an incumbent president was defeated by a former president.
Harrison married Caroline Lavina Scott Harrison in 1853 at the age of 20 and they went on to have two children.
His father, John Harrison, warned him about joining politics but his wife actively supported him.
The Election of 1892 also gave Americans another first. It was the first time no candidate campaigned in a presidential election (Mrs. Harrison was dying). Neither Harrison nor Cleveland actively campaigned. But they relied on surrogates instead.
“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.” – Benjamin Harrison (August 20, 1833 – March 13, 1901), 23rd President of the United States (1889-1893).
His wife died just before the 1892 elections and both presidential candidates did not campaign out of respect for her. Caroline became just the second First Lady to die in the White House after Letitia Tyler, first wife of President John Tyler.
Harrison remarried his late wife’s niece and secretary, Mary Lord Gimmick who was a widow. They had one child together.
A respected statesman, President Benjamin Harrison died a few months short of his 68th birthday in 1901, like his grandfather who was also 68 when he died.
Know more: 13 Interesting Facts about Alexander the Great.
Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.