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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

INAUGURATION 2009: Q&A for trivia buffs

History: Beginning in 1789, the nation has celebrated 43 inaugurations —- all of them different. For example, Washington’s second inaugural address was 135 words —- the shortest ever. By contrast, John Adams’ speech contained a single sentence that was 737 words long.

By Richard Halicks, Joni Zeccola

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1. After 8 inches of snow fell on the morning of the inauguration, the Army used flamethrowers to melt snow and ice from Pennsylvania Avenue. Ask not what this president did for you; ask which president this was done for.

Answer: John F. Kennedy. Weather has often been a problem at inaugurations, even when they were held in March instead of January. Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration was the warmest on record; his second inauguration was the coldest. On Jan. 20, 1985, wind chills sent the temperature down to 20 below, and Reagan agreed to take the oath indoors. A blizzard forced William Howard Taft’s (inset) indoors in 1909. Said he, “I always said it would be a cold day when I got to be president of the United States.”

2. Speaking of lousy weather, this president gave the longest inaugural address ever —- 90 minutes, more than 8,000 words —- in a driving, icy rain, with no coat or hat. He was dead a month later. Who was he?

Answer: William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe. Harrison either already had a cold when he made the speech in March 1841, or caught one that day. Then, perhaps because he shook scores of not particularly clean hands, he contracted pneumonia and died. Harrison served exactly one month in office —- the briefest service by any president —- from March 4 to April 4.

(full article link...)

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