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Inauguration of William Henry Harrison

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Presidential inauguration of
William Henry Harrison
DateMarch 4, 1841; 183 years ago (1841-03-04)
LocationUnited States Capitol,
Washington, D.C.
ParticipantsWilliam Henry Harrison
9th president of the United States
— Assuming office

Roger B. Taney
Chief Justice of the United States
— Administering oath

John Tyler
10th vice president of the United States
— Assuming office

William R. King
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
— Administering oath

The inauguration of William Henry Harrison as the ninth president of the United States was held on Thursday, March 4, 1841, at the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. This was the 14th inauguration and marked the commencement of the only four-year term of both William Henry Harrison as president and John Tyler as vice president. The presidential oath of office was administered to Harrison by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.[1] Harrison died 31 days into his term, the first U.S. president to die in office and has the shortest presidential term in American history. Tyler then succeeded to the presidency, creating a precedent which would be followed seven more times before it was officially regulated through the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967.



Harrison's inauguration was marked by several novelties; he was the first president-elect to arrive in Washington, D.C. by train, and for the first time an official inaugural committee of citizens had formed to plan the day's parade and inaugural ball.[1]

At 68 years, 23 days of age at the time of his inauguration, he was the oldest president-elect to take office until Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Harrison's wife, Anna, was too ill to travel when her husband left Ohio for his inauguration, and she decided not to accompany him to Washington. Harrison asked his daughter-in-law Jane Irwin Harrison, widow of his namesake son, to accompany him and act as hostess until Anna's proposed arrival in May.

The outgoing president Martin Van Buren did not attend Harrison's inauguration, making him the third president up to that time to do so (John Adams and John Quincy Adams being the others).[2] While Van Buren and Harrison were on good personal terms, Van Buren was still dissatisfied over the Whig party's attacks on him during the campaign. His son Martin Jr. was also ill, which may have led him to skip the ceremony. Instead, he stayed at the Capitol signing legislation until just before the ceremony began.[3]

The day of the inauguration was overcast with cold wind and a noon temperature estimated to be 48 °F (9 °C), but the president-elect chose to not wear an overcoat, hat, or gloves for the ceremony.[1] Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address to date, running 8,445 words.[1] He wrote the entire speech himself, though it was edited by soon-to-be Secretary of State, Daniel Webster. Webster said afterwards that in the process of reducing the text, he had "killed seventeen Roman proconsuls".[4] That evening Harrison attended three inaugural balls, including one at Carusi's Saloon entitled the "Tippecanoe" ball, which at a price of US$10 per person attracted 1000 guests.[5]

On March 26, Harrison developed a cold. According to the prevailing medical misconception of that time, it was believed that his illness was directly caused by the bad weather at his inauguration; however, Harrison's illness did not arise until more than three weeks after the event.[6] Despite doctors' attempts at treating him, Harrison died on April 4 from pneumonia that developed from the cold. The first president to die in office, his presidency was, and remains the shortest in American history.

See also



  1. ^ a b c d "The 14th Presidential Inauguration: William Henry Harrison, March 04, 1841". United States Senate. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  2. ^ "Transitions at the White House". WHHA (en-US). Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  3. ^ "Why Didn't Martin Van Buren Attend William Henry Harrison's Inauguration? | The Papers of Martin Van Buren". vanburenpapers.org. Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  4. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker (2007). What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848. Oxford University Press US. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7.
  5. ^ "Harrison's Inauguration". American Treasures of the Library of Congress. Retrieved January 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Cleaves, Freeman (1939). Old Tippecanoe: William Henry Harrison and His Time. New York, NY: C. Scribner's Sons.