Until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inauguration on January 20, 1937, Inauguration Day was held on March 4th.  From 1937 until present day, January 20th is Inauguration Day and the term of office begins at 12:00 noon.  With his election to a second term, the Inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2013 was the 57th formal ceremony and the 69th oath of office.  For the newly elected Commander and Chief, the public expects to listen to a speech and the length of the speech has varied.  Here is the long and short of Presidential Inauguration speeches.


On March 4, 1841,William Henry Harrison gave the longest Presidential Inauguration speech in history.  It was 8,443 words. He died of pneumonia one month later, believed to have been brought on by prolonged exposure to bad weather at his March 4 Inauguration.


For his second inauguration on March 4, 1793, President George Washington gave the shortest speech in inauguration history.  It was just 133 words. I wasn’t about to quote President Harrison’s speech but here is the short words of President George Washington.

Fellow Citizens:

I am again called upon by the voice of my country to execute the functions of its Chief Magistrate. When the occasion proper for it shall arrive, I shall endeavor to express the high sense I entertain of this distinguished honor, and of the confidence which has been reposed in me by the people of united America.

Previous to the execution of any official act of the President the Constitution requires an oath of office. This oath I am now about to take, and in your presence: That if it shall be found during my administration of the Government I have in any instance violated willingly or knowingly the injunctions thereof, I may (besides incurring constitutional punishment) be subject to the upbraiding of all who are now witnesses of the present solemn ceremony.

George Washington Second Inauguration

George Washington Second Inauguration

The following website has some interesting facts about inaugurations. http://www.inaugural.senate.gov/about/facts-and-firsts


4 responses

  1. a gray says:

    Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Washington’s speech had become part of the Inauguration and required of all subsequent Presidents?


  2. Birgit says:

    I think people must have placed a hex on Harrison for being so long-winded. One doesn’t need to talk a lot for a speech to be powerful