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The 15 Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History

Killer speech

William Henry Harrison's inaugural speech was so long that he got pneumonia and died just a month later.

William Henry Harrison's inaugural speech was so long that he got pneumonia and died just a month later. (Image credit: Library of Congress)

William Henry Harrison's inauguration speech was deadly dull. The ninth president of the United States holds the record for longest inaugural address at about 8,500 words. Harrison stood so long in the cold, rainy weather to give his inauguration speech that he caught a chill, got pneumonia and died just a month later. But not everyone thinks the speech killed him; he may have gotten his cold three weeks later, meaning his rainy day performance wasn't to blame for his demise.

House party from hell

Andrew Jackson threw an epic party after his inauguration, including a tub of whiskey on the front lawn to get rowdy partygoers out of the house.

Andrew Jackson threw an epic party after his inauguration, including a tub of whiskey on the front lawn to get rowdy partygoers out of the house. (Image credit: Library of Congress)

After Andrew Jackson's inauguration in 1829, the seventh president threw an epic party at the White House straight out of an '80s movie. Jackson was notorious for his frontier-style, "man of the people" mystique and he attracted a similarly rough crowd. The louts crashed the party, sloshed through the house in muddy shoes, broke china and ripped the curtains down. To get them to leave, the staff used a time-tested trick: Leaving a tub of whiskey on the front lawn.

Debating a little girl

An eighth-grade girl caught a mistake in Herbert Hoover's swearing in oath.

An eighth-grade girl caught a mistake in Herbert Hoover's swearing in oath. (Image credit: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library)

In 1929, when President Herbert Hoover was sworn in, the chief justice who administered the oath, William Howard Taft, garbled it, substituting the word "maintain" for "protect." An eighth-grade girl named Helen Terwilliger caught the flub, and sent Taft a note. Instead of admitting the error, Taft wrote a letter insisting he got the words right, and movie buffs eventually played their newsreels to determine who was right. The eighth-grader held the day and Taft eventually conceded he was wrong.

Running for office

James Buchanan had an extreme case of diarrhea on his Inauguration Day, and needed a doctor nearby during the ceremony.

James Buchanan had an extreme case of diarrhea on his Inauguration Day, and needed a doctor nearby during the ceremony. (Image credit: Library of Congress)

President James Buchanan had an extreme case of diarrhea on his Inauguration Day in 1857. Prior to the inauguration, the 15th president of the United States had contracted a case of "National Hotel Disease," by staying at a shady establishment. The stubborn case of dysentery lingered past his inauguration, and Buchanan needed a doctor nearby during the ceremony.

Some air, please

James-MAdison

Madison's inaugural party was so hot that revelers punched out the windows for ventilation (Image credit: White House Historical Association)

While partying has always been a major part of the inaugural tradition, guests were considerably rowdier in years past. During James Madison's inaugural ball in 1809, the weather got so hot that patrons reportedly broke out the windows at Long's Hotel so they could breathe. (Tickets for the ball apparently cost $4 each.)