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HARRISON, Benjamin. Autograph letter signed ("Benj Harrison") as President, to his son Russell Harrison (1854-1936), [Washington, 5 February 1893]. 2½ pages, 8vo (7 1/16 x 4 7/16 in.), in pencil, on Executive Mansion mourning stationery, evidence of mounting, otherwise in fine condition.
HARRISON, Benjamin. Autograph letter signed ("Benj Harrison") as President, to his son Russell Harrison (1854-1936), [Washington, 5 February 1893]. 2½ pages, 8vo (7 1/16 x 4 7/16 in.), in pencil, on Executive Mansion mourning stationery, evidence of mounting, otherwise in fine condition.

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HARRISON, Benjamin. Autograph letter signed ("Benj Harrison") as President, to his son Russell Harrison (1854-1936), [Washington, 5 February 1893]. 2½ pages, 8vo (7 1/16 x 4 7/16 in.), in pencil, on Executive Mansion mourning stationery, evidence of mounting, otherwise in fine condition.

A MOURNING PRESIDENT HARRISON ADMITS "I DO LONG TO GET OUT OF THIS [WHITE] HOUSE" AND THAT HE IS IMPATIENT TO BE "RELEASED ON...4 MARCH"

A sad letter which reveals recent widower Harrison's loneliness in the last month of his Presidency. Popular support for Harrison had declined in the latter stages of his Presidency due to the protectionist McKinley Tariff which had created an alarming increase in consumer prices. While his reelection seemed increasingly unlikely, the President's wife died tragically less than two weeks before the nation went to the polls. Harrison faced further obstacles in early 1893 as a Scarlet Fever epidemic struck Washington causing widespread panic. His five-year old grandaughter, Marthena, was quarantined after being diagnosed with the illness.

Here, just one month before he would leave the Presidency, a discouraged Harrison writes to his quarantined son: "It seems very hard to be shut of[f] from you all so long--while you are so near. But God has been very good to us & we should be grateful. Things are very quiet in our end of the house--no one calls, except at the office & not very many there. I have not gone anywhere not even to church for while there is I suppose no danger--some might think so & be made uncomfortable. You must not fail to take the utmost care that Marthena does not get any cold--there is need of the utmost & continued care to avoid exposure." Harrison notes that his Secretary of State, James G. Blaine, has also become ill: "Mr. Blaine was again critically ill this morning but is now reported to be improved and sleeping. I thought I might get away for a short trip this week, but unless he gets a good deal better I had better defer it rather than have the risk of being called back." The lame duck President admits that he longs for Cleveland's inaugural: "I can get along I think until I am released on the 4 March--though the strain has been very hard--& I do long to get out of this House." Harrison concludes by offering his son aid: "I have thought that you might need a little money as you have been interrupted somewhat in your affairs & send you a small check."

Marthena recovered and Harrison left the White House on March 4 to make room for his successor. Returning to Indianapolis, the former President remained active in politics and remarried in 1896.
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