Tuesday, August 20, 2013


August 20, 2013


North Bend, Ohio (JFK+50) Benjamin Harrison, who would become the 23rd president of the United States, and was the grandson of the 9th, William Henry Harrison, was born here in North Bend* 180 years ago today, August 20, 1833.

       State of Ohio Birthplace Marker
                  North Bend, Ohio
           Photo by Gbauer 8946 (2012)

The Harrisons were among the First Families of Virginia having arrived in Jamestown in 1630.

Young Benjamin attended Farmers College in 1847 and graduated from Miami University of Ohio in 1852.

He studied law in Cincinnati and joined the Republican Party in 1856.

During the Civil War, Harrison rose from 2nd Lt. to Brigadier General in the Union Army.

Having lost bids for governor of Ohio in 1872 and 1876, Benjamin Harrison was elected to the United States Senate and served from 1881 to 1887.

In 1888, he won the Republican nomination for president and chose Levi P. Morton as his running mate.

Although losing the popular vote by 90,000, Harrison became president-elect by virtue of a 233 to 168 electoral college victory over incumbent President Grover Cleveland.

                     Benjamin Harrison
              23rd President of the U.S.
          Official White House Portrait
                   by Eastman Johnson 

Benjamin Harrison's grandfather, William Henry Harrison, who had given his long inaugural address in the rain, died just one month later from complications of pneumonia.

In a twist of fate, Benjamin Harrison's inaugural day was also marred by rain.
Perhaps not wishing the same tragic fate to befall his successor, President Cleveland held an umbrella over Harrison's head while he was sworn in.

               Inaugural Oath of Office
                         March 4, 1889
                  United States Capitol
              Library of Congress Photo

At the end of a four year term with the surplus eroded and the economy going into the tank, Benjamin Harrison was defeated for re-election by former President Cleveland. 

Cleveland would become the only president to serve non-consecutive terms and be labeled as the 22nd and 24th presidents.

    Historic Home of Benjamin Harrison
                Indianapolis, Indiana
       Photo by Daniel Schwen (2008)

*North Bend, Ohio is located in the SW corner of the state bordering Indiana.  It is in Hamilton County on the banks of the Ohio River.  The town was the home of William Henry Harrison who is buried there.  15 miles from Cincinnati and 6 miles from the Ohio-Indiana state line, the area was settled by John Cleves Symmes in 1789.

North Bend can boast as being one of only two towns in America that is the birthplace of two presidents, the other being Quincy, Massachusetts.