Today in History


On this day, in 1841, US President William Henry Harrison became the first President of the United States to die while in office.

Harrison, at the time, was the oldest person to be elected to the office of President, and would remain so until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. ? His inauguration speech was two hours long, on a bitterly cold day on March 4, 1841, during which time he wore neither coat nor hat.

Three weeks later, Harrison caught a cold, which doctors said developed in to pneumonia, and after a 9 day illness, he passed away. ? His presidency of 32 days remains the shortest presidency ever. ? Harrison is the only President to have never appointed a judge to the supreme court. ?He was also the first president to have his photo taken while in office.

His passing created a constitutional crisis, in that the wording of the constitution stated that the Vice-President would assume the office until an election is held, but did not specify if a fresh election should be held as soon as possible, or that the standard electoral cycle should remain. ? It was decided in the end that the Vice President, John Tyler, would be able to take the oath of office on April 6, and fully assume the office of President. ? This succession plan remained the accepted model until after the assassination of Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson assuming the Presidency. ? The Twenty Fifth Amendment to the Constitution passed in to law in 1967, ?details succession planning in the event of the death or incapacitation of the President. ?The 25th Amendment has been invoked three times, once during the Nixon resignation, once when Reagan underwent Colon surgery, and once when George W Bush also underwent colon surgery. ?In all three cases, power was passed to the Vice President.

In 2014, an in depth medical analysis concluded that Harrison most likely died of Entertic Fever, based on the symptoms presented by the President, and the proximity of the White House to a dumping ground for sewage and human waste.