Past swearing-ins weren't all perfect for incoming Presidents
Consider these inaugural low-lites from our nation's history.
1841 - In a driving sleet storm, a coatless William Henry Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address ever - 8,444 words, spanning one hour and 45 minutes. A month later, he died of pneumonia, setting an unchallenged record for the shortest presidency ever and creating the first known case of death by verbosity.
1829 - Andrew Jackson opened up the White House to "the common folk," who promptly trashed the joint. The raucous crowd broke china and chandeliers and left muddy footprints on the furniture. Only after staffers moved tubs of punch and ice cream onto the lawn - the better to lure the rabble outside - did the party break up.
1865 - At Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural, Vice President Andrew Johnson arrived drunk. Suffering from a cold, a doctor had apparently prescribed a bit too much whisky to Johnson, who proceeded to lambaste several high-ranking dignitaries in the crowd.
1909 - Instead of asking the President-elect to swear faithfully to "execute the office of the President," Supreme Court Justice Melville Fuller asked William Howard Taft to "faithfully execute the Constitution."
1849 - Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on Inauguration Day because it fell on a Sunday. He put it off until Monday - leading many to conclude that, for one day, America was without a President.
1873 - It was so cold at Ulysses S. Grant's second inauguration - about zero degrees - that the champagne froze solid. Worse, so did cages of live canaries, which were supposed to be released with a flourish.
1953 - Already bitter foes, President-elect Dwight Eisenhower refused to publicly greet President Harry Truman at the White House. His reason? Truman had ordered Eisenhower's West Point son back from Korea to watch the inaugural, infuriating the old military man, who thought the move smacked of preferential treatment.
1985 - The coldest inaugural was Ronald Reagan's second, when the mercury dipped to minus 4 degrees. With wind chills around minus 20, the usually public event had to be quickly transformed into a much more private - and warmer - ceremony inside.
comments powered by Disqus
- Revised AP U.S. History Standards Will Emphasize American Exceptionalism
- In a county that tried to amend U.S. history course, a lesson in politics
- Overhauling La Guardia, an Airport With a Historical Name but a Tarnished Image
- Japanese textbooks may sanitize history, but comic art books don't
- Academic Seeks Death Certificate for Outlaw Billy the Kid
- Murderer of historian of Czech Jewry goes on trial
- Election results are in for the American Historical Association
- Nial Ferguson warns Obama’s bet on Iran has low odds of success