Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) exhibited values-driven leadership in every chapter of his life: as a young student of Miami University and a founding member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, to his masterful command as a General in the Civil War, to his ushering in of the Progressive Era as our nation's 23rd President, then as a Statesman, to his respected guidance as an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. Exemplified in the recent installation of a commemorative pillar on Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis, Benjamin Harrison is one of Indiana's most prestigious and accomplished citizens.
Harrison was a forward thinker, a great orator, a lifelong scholar, and a truly brilliant man. President Benjamin Harrison addressed immigration issues and opened Ellis Island, dealt decisively with crisis and the environment, and calmed unrest overseas. He was a respected Civil War General, a man whose ethics were beyond reproach, and a Progressive who ushered in the modern presidency. The State of Indiana proudly claims him as Indiana's Only President! His many noteworthy accomplishments include:
- Graduate of Miami University at Oxford, Ohio in 1851
- Elected Indianapolis City Attorney in 1857
- Elected Supreme Court Reporter in 1860
- Breveted Brigadier Civil War General in 1865
- Appointed by President Grant to defend U.S. Government in Milligan case in 1871
- Argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (the most of any lawyer-President)
- Elected U.S. Senator from 1881-1887
- Elected U.S. President from 1889-1893
- Set aside 13 million acres of public domain land for national forest reserves
- Initiated the Pan American Conference in 1889, later resulting in the Pan American Union
- Established Coast Guard Academy
- Expanded the Navy from only three modern steel war ships in 1889 to 22 ships by 1893
- Added six states to the Union during his Presidency (the most of any President)
- Firmly enforced the 15th Amendment to secure voting rights
- Instituted the practice of displaying the American Flag over public buildings and schools.
Benjamin Harrison's record of public service affords a concrete example of an honorable public life played out on a political stage where coping with the workaday process of self-government prepared the United States for the challenges of the twentieth century. Harrison's personal virtues and political experiences are valuable teaching tools for an understanding of American politics and the American presidency.