Benjamin Harrison

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Harrison, Benjamin

, political leader in the American Revolution
Harrison, Benjamin, 1726?–1791, political leader in the American Revolution, signer of the Declaration of Independence, b. Charles City co., Va. As a member (1749–75) of the house of burgesses, he protested against the Stamp Act (1765). He was a delegate (1774–78) to the Continental Congress and later governor of Virginia (1781–84). His son William Henry Harrison and his great-grandson Benjamin Harrison were U.S. Presidents.

Harrison, Benjamin

, President of the United States
Harrison, Benjamin, 1833–1901, 23d President of the United States (1889–93), b. North Bend, Ohio, grad. Miami Univ. (Ohio), 1852; grandson of William Henry Harrison. After reading law in Cincinnati, he moved (1854) to Indianapolis, where he was a lawyer and politician. He served in the Civil War as commander of an Indiana volunteer regiment and in 1865 was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers. A well-established corporation lawyer, he was (1881–87) a member of the U.S. Senate as a Republican but was defeated for reelection. The Republicans chose him (1888) as presidential candidate against Grover Cleveland, and he was elected in the electoral college, though Cleveland had the larger popular vote. Harrison as President approved all regular Republican measures, including the highly protective McKinley Tariff Act. His equivocal stand on civil service reform displeased both reformers and spoilsmen. The first Pan-American Conference was held (1889) in his administration. Defeated for reelection in 1892 by Cleveland, Harrison returned to his Indianapolis law practice. He later represented Venezuela in the Venezuela Boundary Dispute. Harrison wrote This Country of Ours (1897) and Views of an Ex-President (1901).


See his public papers and addresses (1893, repr. 1969); biographies by H. J. Sievers (3 vol., 1952–68) and C. W. Calhoun (2005).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Harrison, Benjamin


Born Aug. 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio; died Mar. 13, 1901, in Indianapolis. US statesman. A lawyer by education. President of the USA from 1889 to 1893.

Harrison reflected the interests of the industrial and financial oligarchy. He promoted the passage in 1890 of a new tariff law (the McKinley Tariff Act) and of the so-called Sherman Antitrust Act, which was repeatedly used against the labor movement. In 1889 he initiated the calling of the first Pan-American Conference, with the aim of creating a US-controlled customs union of the states of the western hemisphere. The Harrison government established a virtual protectorate over part of Samoa in 1889.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Harrison, Benjamin

(?1726–91) governor; born in Charles City County, Va. (father of William Henry Harrison). He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses (1749–75), later leading resistance to the British. In the Continental Congress (1774–77), he presided over debates which led to the Declaration of Independence, which he signed. A member of Virginia's House of Delegates (1777–81, 1784–91), and Virginia's governor (1781–84), he championed the Union and the Bill of Rights.

Harrison, Benjamin

(1833–1901) twenty-third U.S. president; born in North Bend, Ohio. Grandson of a U.S. president and son of a U.S. senator, he took up law practice in Indianapolis in 1854. During the Civil War he raised a regiment and led it with distinction. Active thereafter in Republican politics, he made two unsuccessful bids for the Indiana governorship before gaining a seat in the U.S. Senate (1881–87), where he supported civil service reform and a protective tariff. In 1888 he rode the tariff issue into the presidency with the support of big business. As president he signed the high McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act (both highly unpopular) as well as the Sherman Antitrust Act; he also supported several international conferences. His association with high tariffs was the main element in his loss to Grover Cleveland in 1892. He returned to legal practice in Indianapolis, regaining respect for his responsible views on national and international issues.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.