Caroline Scott Harrison life and biography

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Caroline Scott Harrison biography

Date of birth : 1832-10-01
Date of death : 1892-10-25
Birthplace : Oxford, Ohio, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-08-05
Credited as : First lady of the United States, wife of President Benjamin Harrison,

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Caroline Scott Harrison, also known as Caroline Lavinia Scott, Caroline Lavinia Scott Harrison, Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, Caroline Harrison born October 1, 1832 in Oxford, Ohio, United States - died October 25, 1892 in Washington, District of Columbia, United States was the First lady of the United States. Caroline Scott Harrison was the wife of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States. She is credited with founding the Daughters of the American Revolution and with getting women admitted to Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Born into Presbyterian Minister's Family

Caroline Scott Harrison was born Caroline Lavinia Scott on October 1, 1832, in Oxford, Ohio. She went by the name Carrie and was one of four children born to Mary Potts Neal and the Rev. Dr. John W. Scott, a Presbyterian minister. Carrie Harrison became acquainted with her future husband through her father who taught physics and chemistry at Farmers' College in Cincinnati, Ohio, where Benjamin Harrison was enrolled as a young man.

The Rev. Scott also owned and operated a girls' school in Cincinnati, where his daughter was a student. She was known for her spirit, her intelligence, and her artistic bent as an accomplished pianist and a painter. When her father relocated the girls' school to Oxford, Ohio, in 1849, Benjamin Harrison coincidentally enrolled at nearby Miami University.

The couple became secretly engaged in 1852, the same year Benjamin Harrison graduated from Miami University. After graduation, he moved to Cincinnati to work at a law firm, but by that time had already developed a serious emotional attachment to his fiancé. Unable to endure the separation, the Harrisons married on October 20, 1853. Carrie Harrison then went to live at her new husband's family estate, The Point, located in southwestern Ohio.

Gave Birth to Two Children

Carrie Harrison was pregnant with her first child when her husband gained admittance to the Ohio Bar on April 4, 1854. The Harrisons soon moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where Benjamin Harrison worked as an assistant to the city prosecutor. The Harrisons' son, Russell Benjamin Harrison, was born on August 4, 1854. A daughter, Mary Scott "Mamie" Harrison, was born on April 3, 1858.

Carrie Harrison was most often described as an admirable wife and mother, highly capable as a homemaker and loyal and devoted to her husband. She remained a source of strength to him as he worked in a series of jobs while establishing his law practice. Carrie Harrison was patient through times of scarcity and prudent always in times of plenty.

After the onset of the Civil War, Benjamin Harrison organized the 70th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers in July 1862; by the end of training camp in August, he had been promoted to captain and then to colonel. Carrie Harrison remained in Indianapolis with the children through the duration of the war. She filled her time volunteering at the local Presbyterian church and doing mission work at the local home for orphans. Finally, in June 1965, Benjamin Harrison returned home after his discharge from the military as a brigadier general.

Following the war, Benjamin Harrison earned fame as a capable attorney in his new firm of Porter, Harrison, and Fishback. By 1873, in the midst of prosperity, the children--Russell and Mamie--were sent to boarding school.

Founded Daughters of the American Revolution

Carrie Harrison joined her husband in Washington, D.C., in December 1881, after his election to the U.S. Senate. There they rented an entire floor of a boarding house at 825 Vermont Avenue. Their son, Russell, was married in 1884, and their daughter, Mamie, married a man with the last name of McKee in November 1884. The Harrisons's first grandchild, Benjamin Harrison McKee, known as "Baby McKee," was born on March 15, 1887. After Benjamin Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888, "Baby McKee" and his family joined the Harrisons at the White House. The Harrisons, with Baby McKee in tow, captured the hearts of the U.S. populace.

Carrie Harrison served as first lady during the U.S. centennial celebration of 1889. In conjunction with the hype surrounding the celebration, the first lady helped found the Daughters of the American Revolution, serving as the organization's first president general.

Presided Over White House Renovations

A popular and prudent hostess, Carrie Harrison refused to establish her family's residence at the White House until she received assurances that the mansion, which had become dilapidated over the years, would be renovated. It was important to her that the house should be a home befitting of the president of the United States. Because of this, she tended to even the smallest details of the furnishings, and it was Carrie Harrison who first set the tradition that the White House should have a special set of dinnerware in keeping with the state function of the home.

While in Washington, Carrie Harrison earned a reputation as an eager fundraiser and is credited with assisting in collecting funds to establish the Johns Hopkins Medical School in 1890. Carrie Harrison raised the funds with a string attached-she made school officials promise to admit women.

Died of Tuberculosis

During the winter of 1891, Carrie Harrison became extremely ill; she was thought to be suffering from a severe depression. Later medical examinations proved that she suffered from tuberculosis. After spending time trying to recover at The Pines in Ohio, she returned to Washington and died there, at the White House, on October 25, 1892. Her daughter, who also resided at the White House, took over the duties of lady of the mansion after her mother's death.

Carrie Harrison was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. One of the old Harrison residences--on North Delaware Street in Indianapolis--still stands and has been preserved as a national monument called the Harrison Memorial Home.

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