Presidential Inauguration Speeches

My favorite Presidential Inauguration story is a cautionary tale about long speeches and dressing for the weather.

President William H. Harrison made the longest inaugural speech in 1841 - and served the shortest term of office.

"Old Tippecanoe" gave a speech that ran an hour-and-forty-five-minutes - during a snowstorm - without wearing a topcoat, scarf or gloves.

The 68-year-old President stood outside for the entire ceremony. He greeted crowds of well-wishers at the White House later that day. He went to several celebrations that evening.

One month later he died of pneumonia. I go with the inauguration as the cause, though there is some doubt.

  1.  Keep the speech short.  The shortest one was George Washington's Second Inaugural (130 words), followed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Fourth (550 words) and Abraham Lincoln's Second (700 words). See a pattern? You learn after the first term to revise and cut that speech down.
  2. Dress for the weather. Mom was right. You can catch a bad cold if you stand outside in wet clothing.

What will we learn from the Trump inauguration today? We'll see... 

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