Childhood and Education
Benjamin Harrison was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Ohio. He grew up on a 600-acre farm that had been given to his father by his grandfather, William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States. Harrison would become the only president whose grandfather had also been president. His father, John Scott Harrison, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. His mother, Elizabeth Irwin Harrison, died when Harrison was almost seventeen. Harrison was a deeply religious man and was raised a Presbyterian. He was a deacon and church elder and also taught Sunday school. He was so devout that he would not conduct state business on Sundays.
Benjamin Harrison has been called the “human iceberg.” He was not a people person and did not like to engage in small talk. He was very intelligent but was not known for his charisma. As Theodore Roosevelt said when he was a civil service commissioner, “He is a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid … politician.”
Harrison was a very bright student. He was tutored at home and then attended a small, local school. In 1847 he attended Farmer's College, a college preparatory school located in Cincinnati. Harrison entered Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as a junior in 1850. He graduated in 1852, studied law, and then was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1854.