Benjamin Harrison
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Indianapolis, Indiana August 20, 2004 15th Visited

President Benjamin Harrison is
interred in Crown Hill Cemetery
in Indianapolis, Indiana. Other
notable Crown Hill burials include
vice presidents Thomas Hendricks,
Charles Fairbanks, and Thomas
Marshall. Criminal John Dillinger
is interred there as well.

Harrison is buried between both his wives,
First Lady Caroline Harrison and Mary
Lord Dimmick Harrison. His son Russell
was laid to rest in the family plot as well.

My father and I coincidentally paid our
respects to Benjamin Harrison on the 171st
anniversary of his birth. For each late
president's respective birthdays, a wreath-
laying ceremony is held at their graves.
Harrison's celebration was scheduled to
fall on the nearest weekend to enable
more prospective visitors to attend, and
thus we missed it by one day.

The twenty-third president was descended
from a long line of public servants. John
Scott Harrison, his father, served in the
House of Representatives. His grandfather,
William Henry Harrison, was the ninth
president. Benjamin Harrison V, his
great-grandfather and namesake, was a
signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (1889-1892)
- Spouse: Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (m. 1853-1892)
Mary Scott Lord Dimmick Harrison (m. 1896-1901)

- Political Party: Republican Party

- Term: 1889-1893
- Vice President: Levi Parsons Morton

- Born: August 20, 1833

- Died: March 13, 1901

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Pneumonia

- Last Words: "Doctor... my lungs."

Cemetery: Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana
- GPS Coordinates: 39°49'08.0"N 86°10'32.2"W

* * * Background on Benjamin Harrison * * *

* Benjamin Harrison was born in 1833 at the Ohio estate of his grandparents, William Henry and Anna Symmes Harrison. William was a popular wartime general and was elected as the ninth U.S. president when Benjamin was ten years old. Though William died one month into his term, his enduring military legacy followed his grandson during his own presidency, and Benjamin was often depicted in political cartoons as being unable to measure up to his grandfather. Yet Benjamin still had a successful background of his own: he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University, served as a brevet brigadier general in the Union Army, flourished as an attorney, and was a U.S. senator from 1881 to 1887. Able to secure the 1888 presidential nomination from a fractured Republican Party, he benefited from President Grover Cleveland's decision not to actively campaign, as was the norm for incumbent chief executives of that era. Cleveland's repeated vetoes against Civil War pensions also worked against him, and Union veterans overwhelmingly supported his G.O.P. opponent. Though Cleveland managed to win the popular vote for the second consecutive election, Harrison was able to win the key states of New York and Indiana, securing an electoral victory and the presidency. He followed John Quincy Adams and Rutherford B. Hayes as the third president to lose the popular vote yet gain the White House.

* Termed the "Centennial President" because his election came one hundred years after George Washington's victory, Harrison took a somewhat different approach to governing than his immediate predecessors did. Although most legislation still originated in Congress, an increased number of bills were drafted in Harrison's White House, which started to revitalize the presidency in terms of policy-making. Unlike Grover Cleveland, who was in office directly before him, Harrison approved large quantities of Civil War pensions for Union veterans. That contributed to the drain of the U.S. Treasury's surplus, and the Fifty-First Congress that met from 1889 to 1891 -- the first iteration of the body to exceed one billion dollars in appropriations -- was called the "Billion Dollar Congress." Some critics viewed this as frivolous government spending, which coincided with the price of goods skyrocketing -- a byproduct of the protective tariff Harrison and other Republicans championed. By 1892, Harrison had fallen out of favor somewhat with the public and G.O.P. bosses, the latter of whom were miffed that the president did not consistently fulfill their numerous patronage requests. Yet he again received the Republican presidential nomination, and he again faced Grover Cleveland, who won the popular vote for the third consecutive presidential election. This time, Cleveland was victorious in the electoral college as well. Harrison left office in March 1893, the only president to cede the White House to a former commander-in-chief.

* Harrison was regarded as a gifted orator who could deliver a rousing speech with no advanced preparation. He was skilled at endearing himself to the masses, but was notoriously cold and distant in more intimate social settings. Derisively referred to by some as the "human iceberg," the president loathed shaking hands -- and the people he greeted might have wished he abstained from the custom all together. His handshake was so weak it was likened to grasping a wilted petunia. Harrison was adverse to small talk as well -- one person said speaking with him was like conversing with a hitching post. At times, his relationship with his children was frosty as well. Left a widower when First Lady Caroline Harrison died in October 1892, after he departed the White House the former president courted Mary Lord Dimmick, the daughter of his late wife's sister. Harrison's two grown children were aghast that their father was romantically pursuing their cousin, who was younger than they were. Unable to reach an understanding, Russell Harrison and Mary Harrison McKee removed their belongings from the family homestead in Indianapolis after the contested engagement was announced. The patriarch reportedly responded by removing them from his last will and testament. Nevertheless, Harrison's son was laid to rest alongside him at Crown Hill Cemetery, and his daughter is buried a few plots away.

Sources Consulted                                                                                                                                                     

Calhoun, Charles W. Benjamin Harrison. New York: Times Books, 2013.

Lamb, Brian, and the C-SPAN Staff. Who's Buried in Grant's Tomb?: A Tour of Presidential Gravesites. New York: PublicAffairs, 2000. Reprinted. New York: PublicAffairs, 2003.

"Life Portrait of Benjamin Harrison." C-SPAN video, 2:10:24. August 20, 1999. 151616-1/life-portrait-benjamin-harrison.

O’Brien, Cormac. Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents. Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2004.

Orren, Karen. "Benjamin Harrison." In The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer, 268-75. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

The Presidents. "Cleveland to Taft (1885-1913)." History Channel, 2005.

The Ultimate Guide to the Presidents. "Executive Retreat 1865-1901." History Channel, 2013.

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