Lawyer, politician, and the 23rd President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison (1833–1901) was born on this day in North Bend, Ohio, the grandson of President William Henry Harrison.
"I am the grandson of nobody," he once said. "I believe that every man should stand on his own merit."
Raised and educated on a 600-acre farm, Harrison married his college sweetheart, Caroline and was a devout Presbyterian. Nicknamed "Little Ben" because of his diminutive height of 5'6", he also served as a brigadier general in the Union Army before running for office.
He said, "Let those who would die for the flag on the field of battle give a better proof of their patriotism and a higher glory to their country by promoting fraternity and justice."
A loyal Republican who served one term (1889-1893), Harrison was elected to the White House in the electoral college, although his opponent Grove Cleveland won the popular vote by about 90,000 votes. Cleveland returned to beat Harrison in 1892.
"I believe also in the American opportunity which puts the starry sky above every boy’s head, and sets his foot upon a ladder which he may climb until his strength gives out," he said.
During Harrison's administration, six states entered the Union--North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming. Intelligent and hardworking, he was an advocate for civil service reform and laid the foundation for future international trade and expansion.
He said, "Prayer steadies one when he is walking in slippery places -- even if things asked for are not given."
More PRESIDENTIAL Quotations
Stay focused on what is most important.