President William Harrison: When Being A Blowhard Is Fatal
President George Washington’s record for the shortest Inaugural Address made us wonder: which American President gave the longest Inaugural Address? We’ll give you a hint: he also served the shortest time in office. Give up? It was William Henry Harrison!
President Harrison, who was 68 years old, delivered his one hour and forty-five minute speech in a snowstorm on Thursday, March 4, 1841. His lack of an overcoat, hat and gloves left him with quite a chill as he delivered his 8,445-word address. While his lengthy speech may not have literally bored anyone to death, it did end up killing the President himself. The cold he developed that day turned to pneumonia, and Harrison died one month later. He served 32 days in office, the shortest term of any U.S. President.
While his Inauguration may not have ended well for Harrison, it did leave an important legacy: the birth of the Inaugural festivities as we known them today. The first official Inaugural Committee was created for the 1841 Inauguration by citizens of D.C. to plan the parade and ball, a tradition we saw continued today here in Washington for President Barack Obama.