9 Books About Benjamin Harrison (and Other Presidents)

9 Books About Benjamin Harrison (and Other Presidents)

By Alexis Price-Waddy

January 26, 2023

Are you an avid reader? Trying to meet your Goodreads challenge for the year? Looking to expand your knowledge of Benjamin Harrison and other American presidents?

Check out our recommended reading list — including everything from essays on our country’s lawyer-presidents to first-hand accounts from Harrison’s staff.

1. Benjamin Harrison (2005)
by Charles Calhoun

Published as part of The American Presidents series, Benjamin Harrison explores the legacy of Benjamin Harrison — from a leading Indiana lawyer to Union general to President of the United States. 

Author Charles Calhoun also wrote a book about the 1888 election, “Minority Victory: Gilded Age Politics and the Front Porch Campaign of 1888″ (2008), as well as a biography on Ulysses S. Grant (2017).

Benjamin Harrison and party on back of train en route to Washington, D. C., in February 1889.

The book summary notes, “In contrast to standard histories, which dismiss Harrison’s presidency as corrupt and inactive, Charles W. Calhoun sweeps away the stereotypes of the age to reveal the accomplishments of our twenty-third president.”

Interested in buying this book from the Presidential Site? Please call (317) 631-1888 or visit the bookstore. 

2. Memories of the White House: The Home Life of Our Presidents from Lincoln to Roosevelt (1911)
by William H. Crook

William H. Crook served as executive clerk during Harrison’s administration and as one of President Abraham Lincoln’s bodyguards in 1865. After Lincoln’s assassination — which occurred while Crook was off duty — he continued to work in the White House for more than 50 years, serving 12 presidents.

In this book, Crook recounts this period of his life, with the goal to, he wrote, “give a series of pictures of the home life of the White House during various administrations.”

3. Mr. President: A Life of Benjamin Harrison (2018)
by Ray E. Boomhower

Published by Indiana Historical Society (IHS) Press in 2018, this is the newest book on our list.

Mr. President: A Life of Benjamin Harrison is the 13th volume in the organization’s Youth Biography Series. Written by Indiana native and IHS Press senior editor Ray Boomhower, this biography details the beginnings of Harrison’s career and achievements during his four years in the White House.

Boomhower has written biographies of many other notable Hoosiers, such as Ernie Pyle, Gus Grissom, Lew Wallace, Juliet Strauss, May Wright Sewall, Jim Jontz and John Bartlow Martin.

Interested in buying this book from the Presidential Site? Please call (317) 631-1888 or visit the bookstore.

 4. America’s Lawyer-Presidents: From Law Office to Oval Office (2004)
by Sandra Day O’Connor (Foreword) and Norman Gross (Editor)

Did you know Benjamin Harrison argued five cases before the U.S. Supreme Court — the most of any lawyer-President?

Benjamin Harrison (left of center in the middle of the room) at the Richmond, Wayne Co., Indiana, court room during the Morrison will trial in 1895.

With a foreword written by the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States, this book includes essays on 25 American presidents with law backgrounds — including John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Rutherford B. Hayes, and, of course, Benjamin Harrison.

Learn how legal training prepared these individuals for their tenure as chief executive.

5. 42 Years in the White House (1934)
by Irwin H. Hoover

When Irwin H. Hoover was sent to the White House on May 6, 1891, to install the mansion’s first electric lights, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was the only government-owned building in the city that had electricity. Ten days later, after he finished the installation, President Benjamin Harrison asked Hoover to join the White House staff as an electrician — and Hoover accepted.

For the next several years, Hoover’s job was to turn lights on and off throughout the day, and to assist the family in using the bell system – as the Harrison family was initially wary of electricity. He was tasked with keeping the system working and installing new electrical wiring and appliances as needed.

He would later move up in ranks, becoming usher at the White House — serving in this capacity until his death in 1933.

Learn more about the 42 years Hoover spent working at the White House.  

Note: This book is a hard one to come by!

6. The Presidency of Benjamin Harrison (1987)
by Homer E. Socolofsky and Allan B. Spetter

An early supporter of American expansion in the Pacific. A key figure in landmark legislation like the Sherman Anti-trust Act and the McKinley Tariff. A president who took a not-so-traditional approach to cabinet appointments. Learn about Harrison’s lasting impact on our nation’s foreign policy by checking out The Presidency of Benjamin Harrison. 

7. The Presidents of the United States of America
by Frank Freidel

Last updated in 2009, this book includes quick snapshots of our nation’s presidents from George Washington through Barack Obama.

8. Views of an Ex-President (1901)
by Benjamin Harrison, compiled by Mary Lord Harrison

This collection includes various addresses given and writings produced by Harrison during his presidency. You’ll find his Stanford University lectures, his “Hail Columbia” speech given at the Columbia Club banquet in Indianapolis, and much more.

9. Speeches of Benjamin Harrison (1892)
by Benjamin Harrison, compiled by Charles Hedges 

If you enjoy the art of speaking, this one’s for you.

Benjamin Harrison speaking at the north end of the LNA & CRR train depot located in the area between W. Kirkwood Ave. and W. Fourth St. in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1896.

Browse a complete collection of Harrison’s addresses from February 1888 to February 1892. Compiled in chronological order, the book includes his campaign speeches, important letters, and numerous speeches delivered during his tours.

And as a treat for making it this far in the list… 

10. A President at the Crossroads

OK, this one isn’t a book. But we would be remiss if we didn’t include this Emmy-award winning documentary on the list.

Get a glimpse at the life of America’s Hoosier president in this PBS documentary.

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