I’ll keep it brief this evening, because the subject of Today’s History Lesson is the briefest of its kind.
William Henry Harrison is best known as the President who served the shortest term. Taking the Oath of Office on March 4, 1841, he remained in office for just 31 days, before dying from pneumonia and septicemia on April 4, 1841.
But there’s more that makes him unique.
William Henry Harrison was the first President to die while serving in office. He was the last President born (in 1773) before the American Revolution began in 1776. He was the oldest elected President, taking office at 68 years of age, and holding that distinction until Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 at age 69.
Harrison was the first candidate from the relatively short-lived Whig Party to be elected to the nation’s highest office and just one of two Whig Presidents elected, the other being Zachary Taylor. Incidentally, Taylor also died in office just 9 years later.
Harrison’s Inagural Address was the longest of any President, running nearly two hours in length. His agenda, one of undoing much of what was done by his two predecessors (Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren), was extensive. But the only item accomplished in this shortest of terms involved calling a special session of Congress, an order he didn’t live long enough to see.
And 1841 would be one of only two years that would see three Presidents serve in its duration (van Buren, Harrison, and John Tyler). The other was 1881, when Hayes, Garfield, and Arthur each held office.
So, while William Henry Harrison served the shortest Presidential term, there really is no shortage of interesting tidbits surrounding him.
Recommended Reading: Presidents – All You Need to Know