7. 1865: Andrew Johnson’s drunken speech. Vice President at the time when Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson’s presidency had no choice but to start off in a tough way. Whether it was due to emotional distress over that violent act or maybe just general alcoholic tendencies, multiple members of the Cabinet witnessed Johnson’s drunken presentation at his own inauguration.
6. 1841: William Henry Harrison’s suicide by epic speech. This guy was either incredibly foolhardy or had a sincere death wish, or possibly both. The day of Harrison’s inauguration was cold and wet; he refused the enclosed carriage that he was offered and rather chose to ride around town on horseback with no hat or overcoat. His speech was about two hours long, and that was after it had been edited down. After the speech, he rode around a bit more and then partied hard at three different inaugural balls that night. There is some debate as to whether or not all this contributed directly to his illness three weeks later, but he died shortly thereafter due to complications fro pneumonia. Judge for yourself.
5. 1829: Raging White House party. Andrew Jackson knows how to throw a party; his inaugural party raged so hard, in fact, that he had to escape and spend his first night as President in a hotel rather than the White House. The hundreds of drunken guests rambling around the White House ended up causing a great deal of damage to fine china and other valuables. To finally get them out of the residence, staff placed punch and liquor out on the lawn to literally lure out the drunkards. It worked.
4. 1929: President loses to little girl. Former President Taft happened to be the lucky guy to administer the oath of office to the newly elected Herbert Hoover. Taft, however, made arguably the first viral on-air flub in history when he misspoke in regards to some very specific terms included in the oath. After a 13-year-old girl called him out on it, Taft admitted he made a mistake but claimed it was slightly different than what the young girl had reported. However, the little girl remained steadfast in her account and was later proved correct by multiple news companies reviewing their reels from the day. Little girl:1, Former President: 0.
3. 1857: Buchanan’s diarrhea day. There are different accounts about the exact status of James Buchanan’s digestive system on the day of his presidential inauguration. Some say he had to take frequent bathroom breaks and missed some parts in the entirety due to discomfort in his gut, while others say he wasn’t personally affected. What is known is that National Hotel disease certainly existed and had a disgustingly aggressive presence in and around Washington D.C. specifically during that time frame.
2 and 1. 1873 and 1973: Double dead birds. For both Ulysses Grant and Richard Nixon, these were their second presidential inaugurations. For both, it was rather cold which bothered both guests and their aviary counterparts. Grant’s team had put canaries in cages above dancers at a ball, but that cute idea ended only with dead birds literally falling down on the heads of the unsuspecting people below. Nixon didn’t make use of any decorative birds, but that didn’t stop pigeons from simply dropping dead for his ceremony.