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An Incredibly Long-Winded President...Who Wasn't President for Very Long

William Henry Harrison holds several presidential records. He was the oldest man inaugurated as president for a first term (until Ronald Reagan in 1981). Some believe that Harrison thought he had something to prove on March 4, 1841, the day of his inaugural. He delivered a two-hour-long inaugural address (the longest ever, another record) on a remarkably cold, rainy day -- all without a hat or an overcoat.

Harrison seemed determined to show that a man his age was up to the rigors of the presidency, despite the weather. But Harrison's final record was for the shortest presidency. After standing out in the cold rain for two hours, President Harrison fell ill and died on April 4, 1841 -- 31 days later. He was the first president to die in office.

William Henry Harrison Inaugural Address

For more on William Henry Harrison's inauguration, visit the "American Treasures" exhibition.

If you want to know more interesting and curious facts about the inaugurations of all our presidents, from George Washington to George W. Bush, go to "I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations. For example, do you know how many inaugural ceremonies have been held in U.S. history?

A. "William Henry Harrison--Late President of the United States," painted by James R. Lambdin; engraved by J. Sartain. Published in Philadelphia by William Smith, ca. 1841. Reproduction No.: LC-USZ62-7567 DLC

B. Inaugural Address, [ca. March 4, 1841], in a contemporary hand. Reproduction information: Manuscript Division. The Papers of William Henry Harrison; digital ID: mssmisc pin1402