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Encyclopedia > Caroline Harrison
White House portrait
White House portrait

Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (October 1, 1832 _ October 25, 1892), wife of Benjamin Harrison, was First Lady of the United States from 1889 until her death.


Born at Oxford, Ohio, "Carrie" was the second daughter of Mary Potts Neal and the Reverend Dr. John W. Scott, a Presbyterian minister and founder of the Oxford Female Institute. As her father's pupil--brown-haired, petite, witty--she infatuated the reserved young Ben, then an honor student at Miami University; they were engaged before his graduation and married on October 20, 1853. They would have three children: Russell Benjamin (1854-1936), Mary Scott (1856-1930), and an unnamed daughter (b./d. 1861).


After early years of struggle while he established a law practice in Indianapolis, they enjoyed a happy family life interrupted only by the Civil War. Then, while General Harrison became a man of note in his profession, his wife cared for their son and daughter, gave active service to the First Presbyterian Church and to an orphans' home, and extended hospitality to her many friends. Church views to the contrary, she saw no harm in private dancing lessons for her daughter--she liked dancing herself. Blessed with considerable artistic talent, she was an accomplished pianist; she especially enjoyed painting for recreation.


Illness repeatedly kept her away from Washington, DC's winter social season during her husband's term in the Senate, 1881-1887, and she welcomed their return to private life; but she moved to the White House in 1889 to fulfill her duties as First Lady.


During the administration the Harrisons' daughter, Mary Harrison McKee, her two children, and other relatives lived at the White House. The First Lady tried in vain to have the overcrowded mansion enlarged but managed to assure an extensive renovation with up-to-date improvements. She established the collection of china associated with White House history. She worked for local charities as well. With other ladies of progressive views, she helped raise funds for the Johns Hopkins University Medical School on condition that it admit women. In 1890 helped found the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and served as its first President General. She took a special interest in the history of the White House, and the mature dignity with which she carried out her duties may overshadow the fun_loving nature that had charmed "Ben" Harrison when they met as teenagers.


She gave elegant receptions and dinners. In the winter of 1891_1892, however, she had to battle illness as she tried to fulfill her social obligations. She died of tuberculosis at the White House in October 1892, and after services in the East Room was buried from her own church in Indianapolis.


When official mourning ended, Mrs. McKee acted as hostess for her father in the last months of his term. (In 1896 he married his first wife's widowed niece and former secretary, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick; she survived him by nearly 47 years, dying in January 1948.)

Preceded by:
Frances Cleveland
First Ladies of the United States Succeeded by:
Mary Harrison McKee

Reference

  • Original text based on White House biography (http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/firstladies/ch23.html)





  Results from FactBites:
 
Benjamin Harrison - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1517 words)
A grandson of President William Henry Harrison and great-grandson of Benjamin Harrison V, Benjamin was born on August 20, 1833, in North Bend, Hamilton County, Ohio as the second of eight children of John Scott Harrison (later a U.S. Congressman from Ohio) and Elizabeth Ramsey Irwin.
Harrison served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and was appointed Commander of the 70th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment in August of 1862.
Harrison was brevetted as a brigadier general, and commanded a Brigade at Resaca, Cassville, New Hope Church, Lost Mountain, Kennesaw Mountain, Marietta, Peach Tree Creek, and the Siege of Atlanta.
Caroline Harrison - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (604 words)
Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison (October 1, 1832 – October 25, 1892), wife of Benjamin Harrison, was First Lady of the United States from 1889 until her death.
Born at Oxford, Ohio, "Carrie" was the second daughter of Mary Potts Neal and the Reverend Dr. John W. Scott, a Presbyterian minister and founder of the Oxford Female Institute.
In 1896, Benjamin Harrison, married Caroline Harrison's widowed niece and former secretary, Mary Scott Lord Dimmick.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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