10 Bizarre Things That Have Actually Happened At Presidential Inaugurations

1. Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration was a beautiful and dignified event until the Veep, Andrew Johnson, took the mike and like a drunken best man, laid down a rip-roaring drunken speech that left everyone dismayed. He had a pretty good reason for it though. He had typhoid fever and the treatment at the time was – you guessed it – drinking whiskey. Lincoln was horrified. Hannibal Hamlin, who was Lincoln’s VP during his first term, actually yanked on Johnson’s coattails to get him to shut up. He eventually did but not before making the whole affair very awkward.



2. The inauguration of Andrew Jackson goes down in history as the wildest party ever to hit Washington DC. As a “man of the people”, President Jackson invited basically the whole country to come to the White House, like it was a frat party at Georgia Tech. The resulting pandemonium was predictable. Presidential china was smashed, curtains were ripped off their mounts, carpets were ruined by thousands of muddy feet running wild through the house. The party only wound down when the commoners were lured outside to the White House lawn with a giant tub of whiskey.


3. To celebrate his second inauguration, Ulysses S Grant decided to free thousands of canaries into the blue Washington sky. Unfortunately it was so cold, all the birds froze to death.


4. Richard Nixon also had a bird-related disaster. In an effort to keep the birds away, the streets along the parade route were treated with a chemical bird repellent. The result was thousands of dead pigeons along the central D.C. streets.



5. President James Buchanan caught dysentery – known for a while as National Hotel Disease – and had terrible diarrhea in the weeks before the inauguration. He was worried he was not going to be able to appear at his own inauguration because he was – as he said in a letter to Jefferson Davis – “living life cautiously.” Nearly three dozen people died from the National Hotel Disease so all things considered, Buchanan got off lightly.


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