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Useful Notes: Benjamin Harrison

"We Americans have no commission from God to police the world."
Benjamin Harrison

The twenty-third president, who served from 1889 to 1893 and came from Indianapolis, the only president whose grandfather was also president (albeit very briefly) and the only one to be preceded and succeeded by the same man. Also one of the few presidents who lost the popular vote but won a majority of the electoral vote. This was at least partially the result of blatant fraud; though Harrison himself was completely uninvolved, some of his supporters openly bought electoral votes to get him elected. He was America's centennial president, being inaugurated exactly 100 years after George Washington.

As president, he signed the McKinley Tariff (one of the highest in US history, named after then-Representative William McKinley) and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. He was also the first president to be recorded on a phonograph.

Electricity was first installed into the White House during Harrison's term, supplementing the gas lights already in use since no one at the time expected electricity to actually replace gas. Harrison and his wife refused to touch the electrical switches for fear of electrocution and left their operation to the White House staff. Two weeks before he lost his reelection bid, his wife died after a long illness. Shortly after, he married a much younger woman. His two adult children, horrified at the thought of their dad remarrying so quickly (and to someone younger than them), refused to attend the wedding.

Politically, his congress managed to squander a truly massive surplus on Civil War pensions and porkbarrel spending, and the national debt surpassed the one billion mark for the first time in American history. How much of this is his fault is one for the judges. Critics were outraged by the "Billion Dollar Congress" and Harrison, and he lost reelection to Cleveland.

Has a nice house that you can visit downtown.

He was very charismatic in public but ice cold in private. His great-grandfather, also named Benjamin, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Tropes embodied by Benjamin Harrison:

  • Embarrassing Nickname: The Human Iceberg, for his cold and unfeeling personality.
  • Formally Named Pet: He had two pet opossums named Mr. Protection and Mr. Reciprocity.
  • Ice King: To the point that he was nicknamed "The Human Iceberg" because of his cold and deatached personality.
  • Last of His Kind: Harrison was the last President who was in the Whig Party, before joining the Republicans, like so many Whigs did. So while Millard Fillmore is officially the last Whig President, Harrison can be considered the last one in spirit.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: He was very charismatic and appealing in public but was very cold and unfeeling in his private life.
  • The Quiet One

Grover ClevelandThe PresidentsWilliam McKinley

alternative title(s): Benjamin Harrison
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