Insider Info on Inaugurations
I found these incidents in an article on line that is noted at the end of this blog. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did…..
William Taft was installed when presidential inaugurations were still held in March. Despite the spring time date in 1909 though, Taft’s inauguration coincided with a blizzard that covered Washington in 10 inches of snow. No problem. Taft simply took his oath of office, as Reagan would decades later, in the Senate chamber. The issue, really, was the parade that followed the oath itself. The blizzard’s winds had toppled both trees and telephone poles; trains were stalled; streets were blocked. Still, the festivities carried on. City workers—some 6,000 men, with 500 wagons—worked through the night to clear the parade path. In the end, the workers cleared 58,000 tons of snow from the parade route so that Taft’s carriage could pass with an appropriate amount of pomp.
The presidency of James Buchanan many historians deem to be one of the, if not the, worst in American history. Before his inauguration, the soon-to-be President Buchanan stayed, along with several of Washington’s luminaries, at the National Hotel, the largest in the city. The hotel ended up being the epicenter of an outbreak of a mysterious illness. The breakout (which would come to be known as the National Hotel disease) sickened, according to some contemporary accounts, 400 people, and claimed 36 lives, including those of three congressmen.
The new president wasn’t immune from the illness: He was twice infected by it. Rumors—aided in their circulation by sensationalistic newspapers—spread that the victims of National Hotel disease had been poisoned by arsenic, and that the poisoning was the result of a botched assassination attempt on Buchanan. The press was filled with accusations that espoused this act was “the determination on the part of interested parties to stifle inquiry and hoodwink suspicion concerning what has every appearance of being the most gigantic and startling crime of the age.”
Historians now think the outbreak was dysentery—a result not of conspiracy, but of the hotel’s primitive sewage system. The President was fortunate to survive. Less fortunate was the nation he would lead. Many historians regard his failure to treat the threat of civil war seriously as “the worst presidential mistake ever made.”
The inauguration of George W. Bush…This one makes the list through no fault of Bush himself, but rather because of the antics of his administration’s predecessor. Bill Clinton’s staff, still angry about the Supreme Court-decided outcome of the 2000 campaign, decided to leave their successors a West Wing that doubled as a kind of bureaucratic fun house. They smeared glue on desk drawers. They rerouted the White House phone lines. And, according to a report on the matter from the General Accounting Office, “messages disparaging President Bush were left on signs and in telephone voice mail.” (The New York Times, in its summary of that report, added: “A few of the messages used profane or obscene language.”). The GAO estimated the cost of repairs for the damage to be between $13,000 and $14,000. Nearly $5,000 of that was dedicated to replacing the White House’s computer keyboards—from which Clinton staffers had systematically removed the “W” keys. (Taken from THE ATLANTIC, THE WORST PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATIONS, RANKED, https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/01/the-worst-presidential-inaugurations-ranked/513665/).