Jacki: Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison, by Charles W. Cahoun

So Benjamin Harrison is one of these guys whose whole family was in the political biz. His great-grandpa signed the Declaration of Independence, his grandpa was president (holla, William Henry Harrison! 30 days, but it still counts!) and from the time he was in school he pretty much knew politics was just his thing.

So he did the standard lawyer/senator/yadda yadda climb, then ran for president. Here is what I love: He ran against Grover Cleveland, who everyone pretty much loved. In my Grover Cleveland bio, Cleveland’s wife said to the servants at the White House, “Remember where everything is, because we will want it replaced when we come back in four years.” and sure enough, 4 years later they were back.

Harrison won electoral votes, but didn’t win the popular vote. He’s gotten a lot of bad press over the years  and even at the time, he just wasn’t a super popular president. The country was divided down the center and he didn’t do much to remedy that. He did work with Congress and try to get stuff done, but looking at it now it just seems like those 4 years were just kind of… nothing. He wasn’t awful or great. Just kind of there.

I’d say that this is the case for the whole biography: not awful or great, but just kind of there. It was a skinny little thing so I didn’t have any trouble finishing it, but I was never into it. This is just another one of those presidents that don’t have biographers lining up to write about them, so you just take what you can get, I guess!

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