American Freedom Museum: Fun Fact Friday

From the desk of Jan Hommel, Museum Director:

Q: Who is the only president to have served only one month in office?

A: William Henry Harrison. Harrison was sixty-eight years old when he took office. You would think that he would have listened to his mother, who most likely told him once if she told him a thousand times to put on his coat, hat, and gloves when going out in the cold to play. Well, he obviously didn’t remember her warnings.

He had been tired of the press and others calling him old and simple during the campaign and decided to show them a thing or two. His intent was to give a long and scholarly inaugural speech. He succeeded in the “long” part, but it is questionable about the “scholarly” part. You can’t be too scholarly if you give the longest inaugural speech in history (almost two hours in length) on the coldest, dampest, windiest, chilliest day of the year without a coat, hat, or at least some gloves.

Everyone who attended the inauguration was dressed for the cold with coats and hats, just not President Harrison. By setting a record for the longest inaugural speech in history, he would unintentionally set another record. William Henry Harrison is the only president to have served only one month in office. Because he was standing out in the cold for so long with no protection, he caught a cold that turned in to pneumonia and he died one month after his inauguration. Harrison was the first president to die in office. (The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia)