Photo: Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site
Here are 10 things you may not have known about Indiana’s only President:
- Benjamin Harrison brought electricity to the White House. Harrison was so nervous about the then-new invention that he had a servant turn on the lights for him.
- He went to college at Miami University, and was in the fraternity Phi Delta Theta.
- Harrison has an impressive family history. His grandfather, William Henry Harrison, was the 9th U.S. President – if only for a few days. His great grandfather, Benjamin Harrison V, was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. John Harrison, Harrison’s father, was a Congressman from Ohio.
- When Congress passed the Forest Reserve Act, Harrison founded three national parks during his term – Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant – and set aside 13 million acres for future land use.
- Harrison owned a pet goat, Old Whiskers, that lived in the White House.
- An influential lawyer in Indianapolis before his presidency, Harrison was the prosecutor in the case of murderess Nancy Clem. The trial became a national sensation and gave Harrison state and country-wide renown that would carry him to the presidency.
- The famous portrait by T.C. Steele was completed after Harrison had died in 1901, so Steele used his own hands as inspiration to finish the painting.
- Harrison played a big role in transforming six U.S. territories to states: both Dakotas, Montana, Washington, Idaho, and Wyoming.
- Called the Centennial President, Harrison was inaugurated in 1889, 100 years after George Washington’s inauguration.
- Harrison gave many of his campaign speeches from his front porch – a popular strategy in his day. People from all over the Midwest would travel to Indianapolis to hear his speeches.