Benjamin Harrison Day is an annual event that occurs on March 4 to commemorate the 23rd President of the United States. Did you know that Benjamin Harrison was the grandson of the ninth president of the United States, William Henry Harrison, and a great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, one of the Founding Fathers who signed the United States Declaration of Independence? A longtime protectionist, Harrison is infamous for his signing of the McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 that pushed federal spending to one billion dollars for the first time during peacetime.
History of Benjamin Harrison Day
Benjamin Harrison Day is set aside to celebrate the memory of a one-time United States president and congressman whose rise to the presidency started as an unsuccessful race for the governorship position in Indiana. He was then elected by the Indiana General Assembly for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate where he served from 1881 to 1887.
Harrison was elected to the presidency as the Republican presidential candidate in 1888, defeating the Democratic incumbent, Grover Cleveland. Scholars and historians generally regard his administration as corrupt due to the signing of the controversial McKinley Tariff and the subsequent Sherman Antitrust Act that saw him bow to the pressure of agrarians and reformers’ demands to prohibit industrial trusts. Although noted for his expansion of America’s Navy to support its active foreign policy pursuits, and the signing of the Land Revision Act of 1891 to protect national forests across America, he became infamous for losing his re-election campaign due to his signing of the McKinley Tariff Act, a protective tariff bill that angered many Americans who considered it too supportive of the interests of the wealthy.
The hallmarks of his administration, however, are the facilitation of the creation of the national forest reserves through an amendment to the Land Revision Act of 1891, a commendable achievement in light of the present climate crisis, and the admission of six defecting states to the Union.
Benjamin Harrison Day timeline
When the Civil War breaks out, Harrison joins the Union Army as a lieutenant in the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, attaining the rank of brevet brigadier general by 1865.
Harrison runs for Governor of Indiana and fails to win.
The Indiana General Assembly elects Harrison for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate.
Harrison broke with his party to oppose the controversial Chinese Exclusion Act.
Benjamin Harrison Day FAQs
Who is the most forgotten president?
Mentioned as the “most forgotten president” in a “New York” article in 2012, Harrison is probably one of the least-known U.S. presidents today. According to scholarly and popular surveys taken over time, he is ranked as a mediocre president at best.
Has there ever been a president from Indiana?
Benjamin Harrison remains the only president from the State of Indiana.
When was Benjamin Harrison sworn in?
Benjamin Harrison’s inauguration was on Monday, March 4, 1889, at the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. It was the 26th U.S. presidential inauguration and the start of his only term in office.
How to Observe Benjamin Harrison Day
Consider joining the army
Harrison was a famous Indiana lawyer when he joined the Union army in 1861. If you feel inspired, follow his path and prove your statesmanship by joining the men and women who defend the country from external aggressors.
Read an investigative novel
Another way to celebrate Benjamin Harrison Day is to read an investigative novel. After studying law at Farmer's College in Cincinnati, and later, at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Harrison moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, to set up his own law practice and defend clients in intricate cases.
Learn more about his life
Read more about the intriguing life he lived. His failure with the protective tariffs led to rising prices for consumers and is arguably the stepping stone to America’s future economic woes. However, his bold and admirable pursuit of foreign policy goals laid the foundation for the U.S. becoming a global power.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Benjamin Harrison
The stature of the man
Harrison is the second shortest of all the U.S. presidents at 5 ft 6 inches, less than an inch taller than James Madison.
First one-billion-dollar federal expense
The McKinley Tariff pushed federal spending to one billion dollars for the first time in history.
He once represented Venezuela in a boundary dispute with the United Kingdom.
He was the first president to use electricity in the White House.
A ‘moderate’ Republican
He didn’t agree with his party on many things except generous pensions for veterans of the army and education for the freed slaves.
Why National Benjamin Harrison Day is Important
He championed African-American rights
Harrison is known to have been a strong supporter of African-American rights. He facilitated the admission of six repentant slave-trade-supporting states into the Union. He also proposed and sought to secure federal education funding as well as voting rights enforcement for African Americans.
His commitment to defending America
We love his willingness to stand up and fight during the Civil War. His love for America was further displayed when his administration admitted one of the largest numbers of western states back into the Union. We love his commitment to America!
His strong morals
We love Harrison’s support for the things he believed were right and fair: federal education funding and voting rights for African Americans, the Land Revision Act of 1891, even going against his party ideology to push for what Americans of his era considered ‘protective tariffs,’ which ultimately led to his defeat in the rerun election. His strong morals are admirable.
Benjamin Harrison Day dates