On Forbes: “Harrisons, The Real American Political Dynasty”

The Kennedy, Adams, and Bush political dynasties are well known to nearly every politically conscious mind.  But there is another political dynasty that few think of, one that created two Presidents and centuries of public servants: The Harrison Dynasty, which also boasts several elected representatives and a Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Berkeley Plantation, home of the Harrison fami...

Berkeley Plantation, home of the Harrison family, initial construction of Georgian mansion in 1726. 

The House of Harrison does not begin with the short-lived President William Henry Harrison’s term, nor end with the Presidency of his grandson, Benjamin. Consider this testimony to its remarkable longevity.  From the 1600s through the mid 20th century, every generation of Harrisons has served in public office, and many have fought notably on the field of battle.

•    Benjamin Harrison II, died in 1712: He was the son of Benjamin Harrison, who came to America from England in the 1630s;  A commissioner for the Colony of Virginia, an influential member of the King’s Council, and a member of the legislature, then called the House of Burgesses. His epitaph reads: “”Here lyeth the body of Benjamin Harrison, Esq., Who did justice and loved mercy, and walked humbly with his God; was always loyal to his Prince and a great benefactor to his country”;

•    Benjamin Harrison III, died before his father in 1710, at the age of 37.  Even so, he served as Virginia’s Attorney General and Speaker of the House of Burgesses;

•    Benjamin Harrison IV, died in 1745. Like his father and grandfather, he was a member of the House of Burgesses;

•    Benjamin Harrison V, died in 1791. He signed the Declaration of Independence and was the Governor of Virginia;

•    William Henry Harrison, died in 1841. The future President was a military hero in the War of 1812, Governor of Indiana, and, briefly, President of the United States;

•    John Scott Harrison, died in 1878.  He was the only man to be a son to one President and father to another; Member of Congress from Ohio;

•    Benjamin Harrison, died in 1901. He was a Civil War Brigadier General, Senator from Indiana, and President of the United States;

•    Russell Benjamin Harrison, died in 1936. A soldier in the Spanish American war, Consul to Mexico and Portugal, Congressman, and Senator in the Indiana State legislature;

•    William Henry Harrison II, died in 1990. The last Harrison to serve, he was a Congressman from Wyoming.

So what relegated the Harrison family’s fame to relative obscurity? Perhaps we are a Ken Burns documentary or a David McCullough book away from a Harrison resurgence.

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