Presidency of Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison was born on August 20, 1833 who served as the twenty-third president of the United States of America from 1889 until 1893. Despite his numerous unsuccessful attempts for the office, he won against the incumbent president Grover Cleveland. He was famous because of his “front porch” campaign, where he did not actively travel to campaign around the country. He was inaugurated on March 4, 1889 by Chief Justice Melville Fuller. His inauguration focused on education and religion; it also promised a protective tariff.

Foreign Policies

After the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison actively pursued foreign agendas. He was proud of the robust foreign policy which he helped form. In 1889, in Washington, the first Pan American Congress assembled, founding a knowledge center that later became the Pan American Union.

In the Pacific, with Germany and England as partners, Harrison created Samoa as an American protectorate and attempted to annex Hawaii following a revolution, which was rejected by the Senate. To the south, Benjamin Harrison did not hesitate to use Chile’s new armored navy to pressure Chile to pay compensation for the damage done to Valparaiso’s American sailors. To the north, he agreed to control seal hunting in the Bering Sea with Britain and Canada. While he typically supported protectionist tariffs, he negotiated reciprocal trade deals that, in the years to come, set the trend for American trade policy. He also sent to the Senate a treaty to annex Hawaii at the end of his administration; President Cleveland later vetoed it.

The extension of the nation to include the states of Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming and the Dakotas was one of the remarkable turnarounds of Benjamin Harrison’s presidency. Although Harrison became netted at the end of his presidency in the Hawaiian annexation debate, the matter remained open in the 1890s.

Domestic Policies

Civil service reform, the management of Civil War pensions and the control of tariffs were among the main problems confronting his administration. During Benjamin Harrison’s term, the legislative branch earned the nickname “the Billion Dollar Congress” because of the federal government’s spending policies.

Currency reform and economic equity concerns were also issues that Harrison was pressured to resolve. As president, in an attempt to curb monopolies, Benjamin Harrison signed the Sherman Antitrust Act into law. The problem of monetizing silver also demanded attention from the government. The debate over currency continued to rage during his administration, even though he signed a compromise bill. He also sought, unsuccessfully, to pass laws securing and expanding Black Americans’ civil rights.

Under the influence of Wovoka, a medicine man, the Lakota Sioux, historically restricted to reservations in South Dakota, grew restive, which inspired them to engage in a spiritual movement called the Ghost Dance. The primarily religious essence of the Ghost Dance was not recognized by many in Washington, and they believed it was a militant event used to mobilize Native Americans against the government. Troops from the Seventh Cavalry fought with the Sioux at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. As a result, at least 146 Sioux, including several women and children, were massacred, and the dead Sioux were buried in a mass grave.

The president appointed Major General Nelson A. Miles to investigate and sent 3,500 federal troops to South Dakota; the rebellion was brought to an end. Wounded Knee, in the 19th century, is considered the last major American Indian war. His general policy on American Indians was to facilitate assimilation into white society, and he considered the policy to have been largely fruitful despite the massacre. This scheme, known as the method of allocation and reflected in the Dawes Act, was advocated at the time by liberal reformers, but ultimately proved detrimental to American Indians as they sold much of their land to white speculators at low prices.

A high tariff and the adoption of silver coinage are the product of the bill. The Panic of 1893 was undoubtedly hastened by both of these policies. Benjamin Harrison backed bills supporting African Americans’ voting rights in the South, but was unable to push them through Congress. An ambassador to Haiti was appointed. He was Frederick Douglass, the most famous African American of the day.

Economically, as the election approached, the situation was deteriorating. The tariff dilemma was the most perplexing domestic problem Harrison faced. In consequence, the high tariff rates produced a surplus of money in the Treasury. Low-tariff supporters argued that industry was affected by the surplus. The challenge was successfully faced by Republican representatives in Congress. An even higher tariff bill was framed by Representative William McKinley and Senator Nelson W. Aldrich; certain rates were deliberately prohibitive.

By writing in reciprocity clauses, Benjamin Harrison sought to make the tariff more appropriate. The tariff was withdrawn from imported raw sugar to cope with the Treasury surplus; sugar farmers in the United States were granted a bounty of two cents a pound on their harvest.

In 1892, former President Cleveland was re-nominated by the Democratic Party to run against the controversial Harrison. The defection of Western voters to the Populist Party, which offered free silver and an eight-hour workday, undermined the Republicans. Benjamin Harrison did not campaign for himself and opt to stay beside his ailing wife, who died in October 1892. In the general election two weeks later, former President Cleveland won over incumbent President Benjamin Harrison.

After his term as president, Benjamin Harrison moved to San Francisco, California, where he taught at Stanford University. He married Mary Scott, Lord Dimmick, his late wife’s niece, in 1896. His two adult children expressed their disapproval of their father’s marriage to a relative who is twenty-five years younger than him.

The couple had one child, a daughter named Elizabeth, together. On March 13, 1901, at the age of 67, Harrison died of pneumonia at his home in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is buried beside both of his wives in the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.