Benjamin Harrison's Obituary
[From page 1 of The New York Times, March 14, 1901]
BENJAMIN HARRISON DEAD
Ex-President's Battle for Life Ended Yesterday
Physicians Realized Early in the Morning That Death Was
Not Far Off -- Flags of Indianapolis at Half Mast.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 13. -- Benjamin Harrison, ex-President of the
United States, died at 4:45 o'clock this afternoon. His death was quiet
and painless, there being a gradual sinking until the end came, which was
marked by a single gasp for breath as life departed from the body of the
great statesman. The relatives, with a few exceptions, and several of his
old and tried friends, were at the bedside when he passed away.
The General's condition was so bad this morning, after a restless night,
that the attending physicians understood that the end could not be far off,
and all bulletins sent out from the sickroom were to this effect, so that
the family and friends were prepared when the final blow came. The gradual
falling of the remarkable strength shown by the patient became more
noticeable in the afternoon, and a few moments before the end there was an
apparent break-down on the part of the sufferer as he surrendered to the
disease against which he had been battling for so many hours. The change
was noticed by the physicians and the relatives and friends, who had
retired from the sickroom to the library below, were quickly summoned and
reached the bedside of the General before he passed away.
News of the death spread quickly through the city and several of the more
intimate friends at once hurried to the Harrison residence. Within a few
moments after the announcement of the death the flags on all the public
buildings and most of the downtown business blocks were hoisted at half
mast and other outward manifestations of mourning were made.
None of Gen. Harrison's children were present at his death. Neither
Russell Harrison not Mrs. McKee had reached the city, although both were on
their way as fast as steam could carry them. Elizabeth, Gen. Harrison's
little daughter, had been taken from the sickroom by her nurse before the
The group at the bedside included Mrs. Harrison, William H.H. Miller,
Samuel Miller, his son; the Rev. Dr. M.L. Haines, pastor of the First
Presbyterian Church, which Gen. Harrison had attended for so many years;
Secretary Tibbett, Drs. Jameson and Dorsey, Col. Daniel M. Randsell,
Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate and a close personal friend of
the dead ex-President, Clifford Arrick, and the two nurses who have been in
constant attendance. Gen. Harrison's two sisters and an aunt were also
Mrs. Harrison kneeled at the right-hand side of the bed, her husband's
right hand grasped in hers, while Dr. Jameson held the left hand of the
dying man, counting the feeble pulse beats. In a few moments after the
friends had been summoned to the room the end came, Dr. Jameson announcing
the fact. The silence that fell on the sorrowing watchers by the bedside
was broken by the voice of Dr. Haines raised in prayer, supplicating
consolation for the bereaved wife and family.
Steps were at once taken to notify the friends and relatives outside the
city. The first telegram sent to Washington was by Col. Randsell to his
wife. Other telegrams followed to prominent men at the National capital,
including Senators Fairbanks and Beveridge of Indiana.
Gen. Harrison had been unconscious for hours before his death, the exact
time when he passed into a comatose state being difficult to determine. He
spoke to no one to-day, failing to recognize even his wife. The greater
part of Tuesday also he was in a semi-conscious condition, although he was
at times able to recognize those at his bedside. At that time he
recognized and spoke to Mrs. Newcomer, his aunt, and also to Mr. Miller,
the words, however, being very indistinct. "Doctor," and "My lungs," were
the only words understood. Almost the last words he uttered were addressed
to his wife, of whom he inquired shortly before he became unconscious if
the doctors were present.
One of the most pathetic incidents of the whole illness of the General
occurred Tuesday before he became unconscious. The General's little
daughter, Elizabeth, was brought into the sickroom for a few moments to see
her father, and offered him a small apple pie, which she herself had made.
Gen. Harrison smiled his recognition to the child and her gift, but the
effort to speak was too much, and he could do nothing more to express his
To-day all efforts to arouse the slowly dying man to consciousness failed,
and he died without a word of recognition to any of those who surrounded
his bedside. The oxygen treatment, by this it was hoped the patient's
breathing might be eased to such an extent that the affected portion of his
lungs might be relieved of the strain which deepened the inflammation, so
that he might recuperate somewhat, was administered regularly. While the
oxygen did not bring results that were at any time encouraging, it enabled
the General to prolong the fight.
A feature of the General's illness and a source of annoyance to the
physicians and to the family was the large number of offers and
solicitations from all sorts of quacks and cranks, who were ready to
guarantee that they had a remedy or system of treatment which would cure
the General. One of those offering their services even went so far as to
wire he was en route to Indianapolis at his own expense to administer his
Services Will be Held Sunday -- Mr. McKinley Will
INDIANAPOLIS, March 13. -- The funeral of ex-President Harrison will take
place next Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock. The services will be held in the
First Presbyterian Church, of which he was a member for nearly fifty years.
The Rev. Dr. M.L. Haines, pastor of the church, will have charge of the
The body of Gen. Harrison will lie in state in the rotunda of the State
Capitol all day Saturday.
To-morrow morning a meeting will be held in the office of Gov. Durbin to
perfect the details of the funeral. It hads been decided that the honorary
pallbearers shall be the men who were members of Mrs. Harrison's Cabinet.
It is not known positively how many of them will come, but it is supposed
by the members of the family that all will be here. As far as they could
be reached by telegrams they were promptly notified of his death, and most
of them will attend the funeral.
With the exception of ex-Secretary of State John W. Foster, who is
traveling in Mexico and could not be located, the following received the
notices forwarded: Ex-Secretary of the Treasury Charles Foster, Fostoria,
Ohio; ex-Secretary of War Stephen B. Elkins, West Virginia; ex-Secretary of
the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy, New York; ex-Secretary of the Interior John W.
Noble, St. Louis; ex-Postmaster General John Wannamaker, Philadelphia.
Mrs. Bevin, of Ottumwa, Iowa, Gen. Harrison's sister, will not be able to
attend the funeral on account of ill-health.
MRS. McKEE TOO LATE.
She Will Arrive in Indianapolis at Noon To-day.
Special to the New York Times.
SARATOGA, March 13. -- Mrs. Mary Harrison McKee, daughter of Gen. Benjamin
Harrison, accompanied by her husband, James R. McKee, left Saratoga at 3:05
o'clock this afternoon for Indianapolis, and is due to arrive in that city
at 12 o'clock noon to-morrow. The serious illness of her children alone
prevented Mrs. McKee from hastening to the bedside of her father at an
earlier date. The perceptible improvement of the children during the past
twenty-four hours permitted the mother to start on the journey.
GEN. HARRISON'S ESTATE.
Estimated that It Will Inventory at from $250,000 to
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., March 13. -- Gen. Harrison's wealth is variously
estimated, public opinion putting it as high as $500,000. Those who are
best informed about the ex-President's affairs, however, say he was worth
about $250,000 or $300,000.
At the time he was elected President he was reputed to have accumulated a
fortune of $125,000 from his law practice, and this has been doubled at
least since that time.
Of late his practice, owing to his great reputation as a Constitutional
lawyer, was very lucrative. His fee in the Venezuelan boundary dispute, in
which he represented the South American republic, was $100,000.
PRESIDENT TO ACT TO-DAY.
He Will Officially Proclaim the Death of Gen.
WASHINGTON, March 13. -- Deep interest was exhibited in all of the
executive departments throughout the day in the reports that came as to the
condition of ex-President Harrison. As office hours had closed for the day
before the end came the first official action regarding the death will be
deferred until to-morrow, when, following precedents, President McKinley
will issue his proclamation to the people, notifying them of Gen.
Harrison's death, and setting out in becoming terms his virtues and
characteristics. He also will order salutes to be fired at the various
army posts the day of the funeral and on shipboard when the news is
The Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy will send out special
notices to soldiers and sailors conveying the President's directions in
this matter. Little more can be done officially, as the act of March 3,
1893, specifically forbids the draping of public buildings in mourning or
the closing of the executive departments on the occasion of the death of an
It is a curious fact that two orders issued by President Harrison himself
probably brought about the enactment of this law. Jan. 18, 1893, the
President was obliged to issue an order announcing the death of
ex-President Hayes, closing the departments on the day of the funeral and
ordering all public buildings to be draped in mourning. Almost before
this period of mourning had expired ex-Secretary of State Blaine died, and
another funeral proclamation issued from the White House. The long
continuation of the exhibition of mourning was too much for Congress,
which promptly passed the act above referred to, prohibiting mourning
display and the closing of the departments on the occasion of the death of
Ex-President Harrison was personally known to every member of the Cabinet,
and all its members in the city spoke to-day in praise of his magnificent
intellectuality and rugged force of character. Naturally the proclamation
the President will issue setting out the Administration's estimate of Gen.
Harrison's character in a large measure will include the personal views of
a majority of the Cabinet, and consequently they did not, in the most
cases, care to enter into extended analyses of the good qualities of the
deceased. Secretary Gage and Attorney General Griggs are out of town.
Secretary of State Hay said: "The death of Mr. Harrison is a National
loss. Independent of the great official position he had held he was a man
of extraordinary mental capacity and activity. He was a true statesman,
lawyer, and orator, and he has left few men his equal behind him. In
character, as well as abilities, he was a man of very unusual force and
Secretary of the Navy Long said: "President Harrison made a distinguished
record as a President of the United States. He was a conscientious,
painstaking Chief Magistrate, of absolute integrity, who maintained the
honor and prestige of his country, and whose highest ambition was to do his
duty toward and serve the best interests of that country."
Secretary of Agriculture Wilson said: "Gen. Harrison was one of our strong
Presidents. He was a man of unquestioned ability and made an impression
upon the country that will challenge the investigation of the
Secretary of the Interior Hitchcock said: "Ex-President Harrison was a
descendant of an illustrious grandfather, and their countrymen will ever
recall with gratitude and admiration the work of both in the development
and exaltation of our country."
Postmaster general Smith said: "The country had a very great respect for
Gen. Harrison, and his death will be universally deplored as a great public
loss. He was one of the ablest men who had filled the Presidential chair.
In intellectual force, in civic virtue, in deep and genuine patriotism, he
ranks among the first half dozen in the whole list. His greatness as a
lawyer, his thorough knowledge of affairs, his rare administrative
capacity, which enabled him to guide any one of the executive departments
as he actually guided several at one time and another during the
disabilities of their chiefs, have rarely been equaled. His Administration
was one of the best and most prosperous the country has ever had.
TRIBUTES TO THE DEAD.
Mr. Cleveland and Others Speak in Terms of Praise.
PRINCETON, N.J., March 13. -- When interviewed to-night, ex-President
Grover Cleveland, who has returned form the South, made the following
statement on the death of ex-President Benjamin Harrison:
"I am exceedingly moved by the sad intelligence of Mr. Harrison's death,
for, notwithstanding the late discouraging reports of his condition, I
hoped his life might yet be spared. Not one of our countrymen should for a
moment fail to realize the services which have been performed in their
behalf by the distinguished dead. In public office he was guided by
patriotism and devotion to duty -- often at the sacrifice of temporary
popularity -- and in private station his influence and example were always
in the direction of decency and good citizenship. Such a career and the
incidents related to it should leave a deep and useful impression upon
every section of our National life."
PHILADELPHIA, March 13. -- John Wannamaker, who was Postmaster General
during President Harrison's Administration, said to-night:
"Benjamin Harrison will ever stand as a rare type of American character.
In the combination of gifts he possessed he approached Gladstone nearer
than any other American statesman. He lived in a light that made every
question of duty clear to him, and out of his clear brain and apt speech he
shed light on every subject he discussed.
"Always sagacious, fearless, and firm, never feeble or foolish, with a
wisdom of speech and a wisdom to act born of a true heart, his life was a
glorification of simplicity, straightforwardness, and truthfulness. Never
false himself, he was the implacable foe of falsity in others. He had a
great soul and loved his country. Taking together his soldier, Senatorial,
and Presidential record, Benjamin Harrison stands in the highest rank of
INDIANAPOLIS, March 13. -- The following tribute to the memory of Gen.
Harrison from ex-Attorney General W.H.H. Miller, who was closely associated
with the ex-President in his official, processional, and social life:
"Gen. Harrison was a man of the highest intellectuality, of great will
power, of tireless industry, with a genius for details; and all his
faculties were under the guidance of a conscience that never slept. He
believed in the right as a ruling principle among nations, in
statesmanship, and in politics no less than in business and private life.
He recognized the necessity and usefulness of political parties, but as
means to an end, not as the end in themselves. Hence, in his
administration, as President, the first consideration was the country.
"In the distribution of patronage, for instance, the first, the essential,
thing was fitness. Without this qualification no appointment was knowingly
made. Legitimate party service, while not lightly esteemed, was secondary.
As to Federal Judges, of whom he appointed nearly fifty, he was wont to say
that they were no man's patronage; that they would continue in the service
of the country longer than Presidents or Senators.
"He bowed to the limitations of the Constitution and the laws binding alike
upon the President and citizen. He respected the bounds of the three great
departments of the Government and neither sought undue influence in
Congress and the Judiciary, nor suffered such undue influence to be
exercised by them in the Executive Department.
"I believe that Gen. Harrison's greatest service to the country as
President, when impartial history comes to be written, will be found in his
illustrations of these high principles."
Gen. Lew Wallace, almost a lifetime friend of ex-President Harrison,
"Ten days ago Benjamin Harrison was the foremost man in America. I make no
exception. He had every quality of greatness -- a courage that was
dauntless, foresight almost to prophecy, a mind clear, strong, and of
breadth by nature, strengthened by exercise and constant dealing with
subjects of National import, subjects of world-wide interest. And of these
qualities the people knew, and they drew them to him as listeners and
believers, and in the faith they brought him there was no mixture of doubt
or fear. The sorrow for him must be universal."
To-night Gov. Durbin, in a proclamation on the death of Gen. Harrison,
speaks of the life and services of the ex-President, and continuing
"In the death of Gen. Harrison, every citizen of Indiana will readily
realize that the State has lost its most distinguished citizen -- one who
has left the impress of his surpassing genius upon the pages of history,
and whose name will forever be associated with the foremost statesmen and
patriots of the eventful age in which he lived.
"Therefore, as a mark of respect to the man whose world's work is done, I
direct that all public business be suspended on the day the mortal remains
of Gen. Harrison are lying in state; that the flags of all buildings be
placed at half-mast during the customary period of mourning, and that such
other honors be paid the distinguished dead as befits the occasion."
COMMENT OF THE LONDON PRESS
LONDON, March 14. -- All the morning papers publish long memoirs of Gen.
Benjamin Harrison and editorials dealing with his career. The Daily
Chronicle says: "It may be long before America finds another President as
capable, honorable, and conservative."
The Standard expresses the opinion that Gen. Harrison has not left a deep
mark in the history of his country, but, like all the papers, it pays a
tribute to his high personal character.
CAREER OF MR. HARRISON.
He Won an Enviable Record as Lawyer, Soldier, and
Benjamin Harrison, the twenty-third President of the United States, was
born in North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio, on Aug. 20, 1833. His father,
John Scott Harrison, was the third son of William Henry Harrison, ninth
President of the United States and the grandson of Benjamin Harrison of
Virginia, who was one of the signers of the Declaration of
One of ex-President Harrison's ancestors, Thomas Harrison, became
Lieutenant General during the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, and as a
member of the Parliament which tried King Charles I, signed the death
warrant of the King. On the restoration of the monarchy, he was beheaded,
and his descendants emigrated to this country.
John Scott Harrison, the father of the ex-President, was twice elected to
Congress, and upon the breaking up of the old Whig party became an
American, supporting the Bell and Everett ticket in the Presidential
campaign of 1860. He married Miss Elizabeth Irwin of Mercersburg, Penn.,
and settled at North Bend. There six children were born, of whom Benjamin
Harrison was the second.
As a boy he assisted in the work on his father's farm, which contained some
400 acres on the banks of the Ohio, near the mouth of the Big Miami. The
products of the farm were shipped in flatboats to New Orleans.
Benjamin Harrison's first education was obtained at a log schoolhouse. At
the age of fifteen he went to Farmers' College, at College Hill, near
Cincinnati, and later entered Miami University, at Oxford, Ohio, from which
he was graduated in 1852. He ranked fourth in his class, and during his
course distinguished himself as an off-hand debater. He then studied law
in Cincinnati in the offices of Storer & Gwynne, and was admitted to the
bar in 1853.
In the same year he was married to Miss Caroline Lavinia Scott, with whom
he had fallen in love while a student at Miami University. Mrs. Harrison
was the daughter of John W. Scott, who was a professor in Miami University
at the time of her birth and afterward became President of the Seminary in
Oxford. She was graduated from the seminary in 1852, the year in which
Gen. Harrison took his degree at the university. She was a musician and
was also devoted to painting.
In 1854 Mr. Harrison removed to Indianapolis, where he afterward kept his
residence until his death. When he began the practice of law he made no
specialty, but took everything, from a five-dollar case before a country
Justice, to a railroad foreclosure suit in the Federal Courts, and in this
school of miscellaneous practice he obtained his training as an all-around
He had few rivals as an examiner of witnesses, and as an advocate he was
clear, cogent, and complete. It was not his plan to confuse or persecute a
witness, but to quietly, persistently, and courteously press for a full
disclosure of the facts. His skill as a nisi prius lawyer was surpassed by
his power before the higher and appellate courts, and his briefs are
regarded as models of strength and preciseness. He reached his highest
development, however, as an exponent of international law.
Harrison's ability as a lawyer aided well in his political career, which
began with the formation of the Republican Party. In 1860 he made his
first canvass of the State of Indiana for the office of Reporter of the
Supreme Court, to which he was elected. It was during this campaign that
he first met Gov. Hendricks in public debate.
HIS CIVIL WAR RECORD.
In August 1862, he entered the Union Army as Colonel of the Seventieth
Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, and was honorably discharged in June, 1865,
after participating in many important engagements during his three years of
service. To his regiment was assigned the duty of leading the assault at
Resaca on May 15, 1864, and for his work there and again at Peach Tree
Creek he won the commendation of Gen. Joseph Hooker. Harrison was present
at the surrender of Gen. Johnston's Confederate forces at Durham Station,
N.C., in the last year of the war. He was brevetted Brigadier General of
Volunteers "for ability and manifest energy and gallantry in command of
While he was still at the front Gen. Harrison was again elected Reporter of
the Supreme Court, and upon his return to Indianapolis helped to form the
law firm of Porter, Harrison & Fishback. At the close of his term of
office he declined a renomination and applied himself closely to his
practice, until 1876, when he became the Republican candidate for Governor
of Indiana through the withdrawal of Godlove S. Orth from the canvass.
Although unsuccessful, Gen. Harrison ran 2,000 votes ahead of his ticket.
In 1879 President Hayes appointed him a member of the Mississippi River
Commission, and in 1880 he was Chairman of the Indiana delegation to the
convention which nominated James A. Garfield, who offered him a place in
In 1881 Gen. Harrison was elected to the United States Senate by the
Indiana Legislature and served until 1887, during which time he became one
of the strongest debaters in that body. As Chairman of the Committee on
Territories, he was persistent in his demand for the admission to Statehood
of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Idaho, all of which
afterwards became States through measures signed by him as President. He
also made speeches in favor of civil service reform and the restriction of
Chinese immigration, and against the importation of contract labor.
In 1888 his name was presented to the Republican National Convention by the
Indiana delegation, and on the first ballot for the Presidential nomination
he stood fifth, receiving 83 votes. On this ballot John Sherman received
225 votes, Walter Q. Gresham 111, Chauncey M. Depew 99, and Gen. R.A. Alger
84. Gen. Harrison was nominated on the eighth ballot, when he received 544
votes to 118 for Sherman and 100 for Alger. He took an active part in the
campaign, making a great many speeches, and in November was elected,
receiving 233 electoral votes to 168 cast for Mr. Cleveland.
HIS PRESIDENTIAL TERM.
President Harrison was inaugurated March 4, 1889. He named the following
Cabinet: Secretary of State -- James G. Blaine of Maine; Secretary of the
Treasury -- William Windom of Minnesota; Secretary of War -- Redfield
Proctor of Vermont; Secretary of the Navy -- Benjamin F. Tracy of New York;
Attorney General -- William H.H. Miller of Indiana; Postmaster General --
John Wannamaker of Pennsylvania; Secretary of the Interior -- John W. Noble
of Missouri, and Secretary of Agriculture -- Jeremiah M. Rusk of
While Mr. Blaine has been credited by many with the full conduct of the
affairs of the State Department during the time he held that portfolio, the
hand of the President was seen in the discussion of the legal rights of
aliens domiciled here, contained in the note to the Italian Government
concerning the New Orleans massacre.
The Bering Sea controversy was full of difficulty when Mr. Blaine's sudden
illness threw the burden of the matter for a time upon President Harrison.
As Lord Salisbury was delaying and no modus vivendi had been agreed upon,
although the season for pelagic sealing was opening, President Harrison
took measures for intercepting the Canadian sealers and the terms of the
treaty were soon arranged.
In the Chilean affair, in which that Government denied its responsibility
for the assaults upon American sailors and refused safe conduct to some of
the members of the Balmaceda Administration who had taken refuge at the
United States Legation, President Harrison was persistent in his demands
and finally made a peremptory request, which was promptly answered.
During President Harrison's Administration the Pan-American Congress was
held at Washington, at the sessions of which delegates from the South
American States discussed mutual trade relations and the policy of
negotiating reciprocity tariff treaties.
Early in 1890 President Harrison made a trip of 10,000 miles to the Pacific
Coast and back in thirty-one days, during which he delivered 140 addresses.
These addresses are regarded as models of non-political and patriotic
speeches and did much to fix the high position which he occupied in the
public estimation. They were remarkable for felicity of expression and
showed his ability to make a large number of short speeches a day, each
having a distinct thought. In these qualities he was not surpassed by any
man of his time.
President Harrison's Administration witnessed the enactment of the McKinley
tariff law and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, and saw the defeat in the
Senate of the Lodge Federal Elections bill.
He was renominated for President at the conclusion of his term after a
contest in the convention with the supporters of James G. Blaine, but was
defeated by Grover Cleveland in the November election of 1892.
RESUMES THE PRACTICE OF LAW.
After his retirement from the Presidency, Gen. Harrison was engaged by the
late Senator Stanford to deliver a course of lectures at the Leland
Stanford, Jr., University, in California, on Constitutional law. He was
chosen as counsel to represent Venezuela in the Anglo-Venezuelan Boundary
Arbitration Commission and was engaged for over a year in preparing his
case, concluding it in Paris Sept. 21, 1899. Afterward he was appointed by
President McKinley as a member of the International Court of Arbitration,
established by The Hague Peace Conference. He was also prominent in the
Presbyterian councils and was a member of the Committee on Revision at the
time of his death.
As presiding officer of the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions, held
in this city last Spring, Gen. Harrison replied to the addresses of welcome
delivered by President McKinley and Gov. Roosevelt, and his speech on that
occasion has been reckoned as perhaps the best speech made during the
sessions of the conference.
During the campaign following the renomination of President McKinley, Gen.
Harrison announced his support of the Republican ticket in a letter in
which he took sharp exception to the Porto Rican tariff policy of the
Administration. After the Presidential election he wrote several articles
for magazine publication concerning the relation of the United States
Constitution to the territorial possessions acquired during the Spanish
war, and he supported by elaborate argument the contention that "the
Constitution follows the flag."
In his practice of law Gen. Harrison was polite to an opponent, but he
never wasted words in his politeness. In his political associations he was
regarded by many as cold-blooded and unsympathetic.
Gen. Harrison's first wife died in October, 1892, during the heat of the
Presidential campaign, and her fatal illness cast a shadow over the closing
days of his official life.
In April, 1896, he was married to Mrs. Mary Scott Lord Dimmick, his first
wife's niece, by whom he had one daughter. A son, Russell, by his first
wife, was graduated at Lafayette in 1887 as a mining engineer, and was
later connected with the United States mints at New Orleans and Helena as
an assayer. He was afterward engaged in journalism in Montana, and during
the Spanish war entered the army, from which he was honorably discharged
last year. A daughter, Mary, also by the first wife, married James R.
McKee, a merchant of Indianapolis, who afterward removed to this city, and
is now a resident of Saratoga.
Gen. Harrison was the author of a book, "This Country of Ours," published
here in 1897, and his speeches have been printed in several collections.