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The Weirdest Presidential Inaugurations in US History

President Barack Obama will put his hand on a Bible for the 57th inauguration ceremony tomorrow, Monday (Jan. 21), and kick off his next four years in office. And while everything may come off without a hitch, inaugurations haven’t always gone smoothly.

Deadly and Drunken Speeches:

In 1841, William Henry Harrison’s inauguration speech was deadly dull. The ninth president of the United States stood so long in the cold, rainy weather to give his speech that he caught a chill, got pneumonia and died just a month later.

In 1865, Andrew Johnson gave a train-wreck of a speech on the big day. The vice president usually gives a short and smooth speech prior to the president’s address. But the 16th vice president, who later became the 17th president after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated that year, was ill with typhoid fever and took the medicine of the day, whiskey, the night before. The hangover must have gone to his head: During the speech, he bragged about his humble origins and his triumph over Confederate rebels. Lincoln reportedly looked on in horror, while the former vice president Hannibal Hamlin tugged at his coattails in a failed bid to get him to stop.

Dead Birds:

Ulysses S. Grant thought that canaries would add a festive touch to his inaugural ball in 1873, the beginning of his second term. Unfortunately, the 18th president failed to anticipate the cold temperatures — the morning low was 4 degrees Fahrenheit (about 15 degrees Celsius), the coldest March day on record. With wind chill, the day was even colder. All told, about 100 birds froze to death during Grant’s inauguration.

Exactly 100 years later it happened again. During Richard Nixon’s Inauguration Day parade in 1973, he wanted to make sure pigeons didn’t ruin his big day. The 37th president had a chemical bird repellent sprayed all along the inaugural parade route. The streets were strewn with dozens of dead pigeons.

Inauguration Parties form Hell:

While partying has always been a major part of the inaugural tradition, guests were considerably rowdier in years past. In 1809 during James Madison’s inaugural ball, the weather got so hot that patrons reportedly broke out the windows at Long’s Hotel so they could breathe.

In 1829 after Andrew Jackson’s first inauguration, he threw an epic party at the White House. 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, they left a tub of whiskey on the front lawn.

(Source: livescience.com)

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