|Date||March 4, 1841|
|Participants||President William Henry Harrison |
Vice President John Tyler
-- Assuming office
Roger B. Taney
Chief Justice of the United States
-- Administering oath
The inauguration of William Henry Harrison as the ninth President of the United States was held on Thursday, March 4, 1841, on the East Portico of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.. The inauguration marked the commencement of William Henry Harrison's only term as President and John Tyler's only term as Vice President. The presidential oath of office was administered to Harrison by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. Harrison died 31 days into this term, and Tyler succeeded to the presidency.
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.
Harrison's wife, Anna Harrison, 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 day of the inauguration was overcast with cold wind and a noon temperature estimated to be 48.5 °F (9.2 °C), but the President-elect chose to not wear an overcoat, hat, or gloves for the ceremony. Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address to date, running 8,445 words. 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." 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.
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. Despite doctors' attempts at treating him, Harrison died on April 4. The first President to die in office, his presidency was, and remains the shortest in American history.