Jan. 22 (Wednesday)

Presidential Grandson
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 Benjamin  Harrison
Full Name: Benjamin Harrison
Born: Aug. 20, 1823 in North Bend, Ohio
Died: March 13, 1901 in Indianapolis, Indiana

Benjamin Harrison was a moderate Republican who lost the popular vote to Grover Cleveland by more than 100,000 in the presidential election of 1888 yet won the electoral majority, becoming the 23rd President of the United States (1889-93). The grandson of former president William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison was earlier elected to the U.S. Senate (1881) after failing to win the governorship of Indiana (1876).

The last Civil War general to serve as president, Harrison possessed a keen intellect, great speaking skills and moral courage. For example, he opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act on the ground that it would abrogate rights guaranteed to the Chinese by the Burlingame Treaty of 1868.

Harrison’s administration was marked by an innovative foreign policy and expanding American influence abroad, symbolized by an American-led coup that toppled the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893. Harrison signed into law the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890), the first legislation to prohibit business combinations in restraint of trade. A “Billion Dollar Congress” spent enormous sums on soldiers’ pensions and business subsidies, eliminating the surplus the treasury had at the beginning of Harrison’s term. This fueled the perception, especially among farmers, that Harrison’s administration was wasteful and too closely aligned with the elite.

The Democrats recaptured the House of Representatives in the congressional elections of 1890, and Harrison was beat by his old rival, Grover Cleveland, in 1892 in the wake of growing populist discontent and several major strikes.