1. William Henry Harrison Died Because of His Inauguration
The Inauguration is supposed to herald the beginning of a president’s term, but for William Henry Harrison, it meant the end. Harrison delivered the longest speech in Inauguration history in the middle of a driving snowstorm. Shortly after, he contracted pneumonia and passed away a month later, resulting in the briefest presidential term ever.
2. Ronald Reagan and Jelly Beans
Most conservatives in Nevada are familiar with Ronald Reagan’s jelly bean habit, but fewer people are aware just how big a role the small candy had in his Inauguration. During the Gipper’s Inauguration Day, almost three tons of jelly beans were used for the celebration.
3. Each Platform is Built from Scratch
A distinguishing feature of every Inauguration is the large, intricate platform. What you may not know, however, is that every four years a new platform is built completely from scratch, adding to the uniqueness of every Inauguration.
4. It’s an All-Day Party
For most Americans, the most important part of Inauguration Day is the swearing in of the new president, but for the incoming administration, the Inauguration is actually an all-day affair. Starting with the Capitol procession and ending with the Inaugural Ball, Inauguration Day lasts late into the night.
5. The First Presidential Inauguration
Back when George Washington was elected, Washington, D.C. wasn’t the nation’s capital, meaning it wasn’t the sight of the first Inauguration, which took place in New York instead.
6. Zachary Taylor’s Inauguration Had to be Moved
Although rare, Inaugurations occasionally fall on a Sunday, which was the case when Zachary Taylor was the incoming president. However, due to his devout religious beliefs, Taylor requested that the Inauguration be moved from Sunday.
7. Broadcasting to the Nation
The majority of Americans watch the Inauguration on television or over the Internet. Until recent times, however, you actually had to be in the capitol to see the new president sworn in. The first nationally televised Inauguration didn’t take place until 1949 when Harry S. Truman was elected and it wasn’t until Bill Clinton’s second Inauguration in 1997 that the event was shown online.
8. George Washington: A Man of Few Words
We’ve already discussed that George Washington’s Inauguration didn’t take place in D.C., but that isn’t the only interesting fact about our first president’s Inauguration Day. To this day, George Washington holds the record for the shortest inaugural address ever, coming in at a sparse 135 words.
9. A Leisurely Stroll Before Becoming President
Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s most beloved thinkers, spent the time before his Inauguration in contemplation, making a solitary walk to and from the site of his swearing in.
10. One and Done
The supporters of most president’s hope that their Inauguration signals the beginning of a long tenure. James Buchanan’s supporters, however, were in for a shock. In his inaugural address, Buchanan promised that his presidency would last only one term—a promise that was fulfilled four years later when he chose not to run for reelection.
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