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March-April 2017

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Retrospect

William Henry Harrison holds the distinction of being the shortest-serving president in United States history. He died on April 4, 1841, exactly one month after being sworn into office as the nation's ninth commander-in-chief. The cause of his death has been the topic of renewed research in recent years, but for more than a century-and-a-half, historians had directly attributed it to the weather on Inauguration Day.

Until the passage of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in 1933, which set the date of presidential inauguration as January 20, Inauguration Day took place on March 4, the date when the Constitution went into effect in 1789. The only exceptions were when March 4 fell on a Sunday, as well as the very first presidential inauguration, of George Washington, which took place in New York on April 30, 1789.

Contributing Editor Sean Potter is a Certified Consulting Meteorologist (CCM), Certified Broadcast Meteorologist (CBM), and science writer with an interest in weather history.       

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