Benjamin Harrison's Obituary

[From page 1 of The New York Times, March 14, 1901]


Ex-President's Battle for Life Ended Yesterday Afternoon.

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 end came.
     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 present.
     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 appreciation.
     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 treatment.


Services Will be Held Sunday -- Mr. McKinley Will Attend.

     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 services.
     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.


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.


Estimated that It Will Inventory at from $250,000 to $300,000.

     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.


He Will Officially Proclaim the Death of Gen. Harrison.

     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 received.
     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 ex-official.
     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 an ex-official.
     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 value."
     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 historians."
     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.


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 American statesmen."
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, said:
     "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 says:
     "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."


     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.


He Won an Enviable Record as Lawyer, Soldier, and Statesman.

     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 Independence.
     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 lawyer.
     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.


     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 brigade."
     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 his Cabinet.
     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.


     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 Wisconsin.
     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.


     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.