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Penn People

Edwin North Benson 1840 - 1909

Penn Connection

  • A.B. 1859, A.M. 1862
  • Member of Philomathean Society
  • Member of Zeta Psi fraternity

Edwin North Benson was born in Philadelphia in 1840, the son of Alexander Benson and Sarah North. After his education at the Episcopal Academy he attended the University of Pennsylvania. While at the University, he was active in the Philomathean Society and a member of the Zeta Psi fraternity. After graduation Edwin took a job with his father’s banking house, remaining there until 1870 except for time spent in military service. As an alumnus, he served on the first board of directors for the Athletic Association as incorporated in 1882.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Benson was one of the first to enlist as a private in the 32nd Pennsylvania Volunteers and by the end of the war he had been promoted to major in the National Guard of Pennsylvania. Thus, he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Caleb North, who served in the Revolutionary War as one of General Washington’s field officers.

Major Benson was also very involved in Republican politics as a member and later president of the Union League from 1884-1888 and as president of the Electoral College which elected President Garfield. He was also a member of many other distinguished organizations including the Rittenhouse, University, Penn, and Philadelphia Clubs, as well as the Loyal Legion and the Society of Colonial Wars. Following his death in 1909, the Episcopal Academy had a statue erected in his honor that still stands to this day.

Benson and his wife, Ida V. Wray, had six children. He died at his home in Philadelphia on April 13, 1909.