Long and Short in History

From 1793 until 1933, a span of 140 years and 36 United States presidential election cycles, this was Inauguration Day. I went looking for a few fun facts to mark the occasion. I won’t attempt to be inclusive.

The most popular location for the ceremony was the East Portico, US Capitol, Washington, DC. Andrew Jackson in 1829 was the first to be sworn in at that location. Other sites within Washington DC have been the Senate Chamber, House of Representative Chamber and two outdoor sites – The Front of the Old Brick Capital in 1817 and In front of the Original Senate Wing with McKinley in 1897. Jefferson in 1805 was the final president to take the oath in Philadelphia. Washington was the only one – first term only – to be sworn in in New York.

Washington, a name that should be familiar, also made the shortest speech. In 1793 when taking the oath for his second term his speech began with “Fellow Citizens” and contained two paragraphs. A total of 133 words.

Wm. H. Harrison, on the other hand, is a presidential name familiar to less of the population. He took the oath in 1841 on the East Portico and spoke at length. A total of 8443 words according to my source. I skimmed the text and counted twenty-five paragraphs (some near a page in length). His final paragraph began “Fellow-citizens.” Perhaps he should have skipped the first portion and delivered only the last paragraph. Would that have prevented the pneumonia which killed him one month later?

Note to politicians giving outdoor speeches in winter: Be brief and concise.


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