Benjamin Harrison Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901)
Twenty-third President (1889-1893)

Much like his presidential grandfather William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison did not owe his White House nomination of 1888 to lustrous performances in lesser political offices. Rather, he was a safe, clean, and loyal Republican. That, along with his kinship with a former President, seemed to be quite enough to earn him his party's endorsement.

Known as the "iceberg," Harrison was unusually detached from the normal hurly-burly of politics, and in domestic matters, his presidential style was essentially passive. As a result, he took little part in shaping the major congressional measures of his administration, including the landmark Sherman Antitrust Act. In foreign policy, however, Harrison exercised more influence, and his enthusiasm for a stronger American posture in the international arena foreshadowed this country's emergence as a world power after 1900.

Harrison's portraitist, Theodore Steele, was an Indiana painter best known for his impressionistic landscapes. One of four Harrison likenesses done by Steele, this version belonged to the Harrison family for many years and was eventually given to Purdue University, where Harrison had been a trustee.


Theodore C. Steele (1847-1926)
Oil on canvas, circa 1900
On loan from Harrison Residence Hall, Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Enlarged image