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ENJAMIN HARRISON, the twenty-third President of the United
States, and the second of his name and family to be called to that eminent elevation, was born at North Bend, Ohio, on August 20, 1833. A direct descendent of Benjamin Harrison, the Virginian whose name stands boldly forth among those affixed to the Declaration of Independence, a grandson of William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe, and the ninth President; and the son of John Scott Harrison, well known among the leading men of Ohio, he inherits a name eminent in our country's history, and qualities of brain and heart that have been, and are to be, usefully devoted to the good of the people. His childhood and youth were spent upon the home farm, his early school days being spent in a neighboring log school-house; and his services, like those of all the farmers' sons of his neighborhood, were given, when out of school, to the rugged work going on continually about him. He learned in early life that toil was honorable, and his whole career has been an example of hard and persistent labor. When he reached the age of fourteen, he was sent, in company with a brother, to the Farmers' Academy, where he spent two years in earnest and persistent study. He then proceeded to Miami University, where he took front rank as a student, and in industry and close application, made the best possible use of his opportunities. Exhibiting, even at an early age, a tendency towards public speaking, he took front rank in the debating classes, and in all the literary performances bore a prominent part. He already showed himself a close and logical thinker; a pronounced Whig, he very early took a lively interest in politics, and the story has been often told how he mounted the rostrum, while yet in college, to reply to a speaker who had come to town to deliver an address on the political issues of the day. It was while in college here that he made the acquaintance of Miss Carrie I. Scott, who afterwards became his wife.
After leaving college, Mr. Harrison spent two years in the study of law in Cincinnati, during which period he was married, and after admission to practice proceeded, in 1854, to Indianapolis, which had been chosen as his future home. Having no resources of his own to depend upon during the slow wait for clients, he determined to sell a sma! piece of property worth about eight hundred dollars, bequeathed hin by an aunt, and make it bridge him over the most trying period of a young lawyer's life. But as he was not yet of age he was unable to give a deed, and a friend was compelled to give bond that the deed would be made when he attained his majority, before the sale could be made. By the practice of the strictest economy, and an industrious and capable administration of such business as came in his way, he was enabled to live until he should have won a position at the bar. The advance came slowly but surely, and his upward progress was aided somewhat by his employment in the conduct of a legislative investigation, where his abilities and character were displayed to the utmost advantage. He had already gained some reputation as a poiitical speaker, having taken the stump in 1855 in favor of a friend who was a candidate for the office of County Clerk. An incident in illustration of his advance in the popular estination has been related: When the news came that General Fremont had been nominated by the Republicans for President, young Harrison was at work in his office, which was then in Temperance Hall, a building which stood then where the Indianapolis New's building stands to-day. A crowd of excited men rushed into his office and said that he must go out and deliver a ratiñcation speech. He declined, saying that he had made no preparation, and therefore could not speak. The crowd persisted, yet he stubbornly refused, until they gathered him on their shoulders and carried hire some distance away and placed him down on a goods box and bade him say something to the people that were there assembled. With what preparation he could make while being borne along on the men's shoulders, he mounted the box and addressed the crowd on the great occasion, again winning applause and golden opinions from his fellow-citizens.
From the days when those early struggles led to inevitable success, to the later period when General Harrison was called to the highest position within the gift of the people, he was one of the leading lawyers of his section, and gave to his profession the best of talent or industry that was within him. As a recent partner well said, in speaking of his legal career: “He possesses all the qualities of a great lawyer in rare combination. He prepares a case with consummate skill; his written pleadings are models of clearness and brevity; he is peerless in Indiana
as an examiner of witnesses; he discusses a legal question in a written brief or in oral argument with convincing logic; and as an advocate, it may be said of him that when he has finished an address to a jury, nothing remains to be said on that side of the casc. I have often heard able lawyers in Indiana and elsewhere say that he was the hardest man to follow they had ever met. No lawyer who ever met General Harrison in a legal encounter has afterwards placed a small estimate upon his ability.”
Strong and popular, it is needless to say that the young lawyer soon drifted into politics. The organization of the Republican party at the middle of the decade that ended in civil war, gave him a place where he could stand without violation of any principle, and he was one of its first and most earnest members. His powers of oratory brought him into great demand, and he soon became one of the best known ainong the younger speakers of the State. He was not afraid of anybody upon the stump, and one of the marked triumphs of his career occurred in 1860, as the outcome of a contest into which he was almost forced. In that year he was the nominee of the Indiana Republicans for the office of clerk of the Supreme Court, a position he desired because it was in the line of his profession, and would bring a needed increase of income. While conducting this campaign in his own behalf, and speaking in support of Lincoln and the general cause, he had gone to Rockville, Parke county, where he had an appointment to speak. The result of that appointment can best be told in the language of General Wallace, Harrison's latest and best biographer:
“Interest in the contest, as will be remembered, was centered in the battle between Colonel Henry S. Lane and Mr. Thomas Hendricks, who were opposing each other for the Governorship. When young Harrison set out for Rockville, he had no other thought than of making his speech of general advocacy of the Republican party and its tickets, State and National, without responsibility other than pertained to his own subordinate struggle. Upon alighting at the old tavern he learned for the first time that Mr. Thomas Hendricks had a meeting appointed for the same hour at the court-house. The Republicans gathered around and told him that the Democrats were hectoring them with suggestions of a joint debate. The young man met the news at first with modest hesitation. Mr. Hendricks' reputation as a speaker and debater was national, and he had been pitted against Colonel Lane as the fittest Democrat in the state to take care of the canvass. Young Harrison shrank from the effect of failure upon the interests of his party. “That is, of course, a very unfair proposal,'