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  Caroline Harrison

by John T. Marck

First Lady: 1889 to 1892

Wife of Benjamin Harrison

Born: October 1, 1832 Died: October 25, 1892

Caroline Scott was born in Oxford, Ohio to John Witherspoon and Mary Potts Scott. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and head of the Oxford Female Institute.

Benjamin Harrison's ambitions at the age of seventeen were to graduate from Maine University at Oxford, Ohio, study law, then open up a practice, so that he would be able to marry Caroline Scott.

Benjamin Harrison married Caroline on October 20, 1853, however he was worried, as this was long before he had established himself as a lawyer. They lived for several years on borrowed money, and at times their financial situation forced Caroline to take refuge with either Ben's or her family. The Harrison's had two children, Russell Benjamin and Mary Scott. By the end of the Civil War, his fortunes improved, and he established himself as a leader of men, and was given the rank of Brigadier General. After the war he returned to Indianapolis as a hero, qualified for politics. In a short time he was rich enough to build his wife a house. She was a fine hostess, entertaining many political friends of Benjamin's. In 1881, Benjamin became a Senator and went to Washington. During this time Caroline had injured herself as a result of a fall on an icy sidewalk. She remained in poor health for awhile, unable to join her husband in Washington. In 1889, when Benjamin was elected President, Caroline was a stranger to Washington, upon her arrival that same year. She regarded the White House as horrible in condition, and lobbied for a new executive mansion, and nearly succeeded. Although having failed, she renovated the White House from attic to basement, installing electric lights, new heating, and putting several bathrooms where there was once only one. She additionally found large collections of china and silver in various closets, from past Presidents. She used their items as a popular museum display within the White House.

Caroline did not live to see her husband's defeat for a second term as President. On October 25, 1892, Caroline died of Typhoid fever.

Benjamin remarried four years later to Mary Scott Dimmick, Caroline's niece and secretary, but by this time he was a retired statesmen.

Copyright 1990-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. From The First Ladies of the Unites States by John T. Marck.