April 4, 1841: After serving just one month, William Henry Harrison died. He was the ninth president, the first to die in office, and the president who served the shortest time in office. Harrison gave a two-hour long inaugural address on a cold, damp day; he was stricken with pneumonia and died a month later. After his death, there was much debate about whether Vice President John Tyler would be merely an "acting president" until an election could be held. But after a lengthy dispute over presidential succession, Tyler was sworn in as the tenth POTUS and served for the remainder of Harrison's term.
April 4, 1865: President Lincoln visited Richmond, Va. — the capital of the soon-to-surrender Confederacy. Slaves gathered. Lincoln told them: "You are free — free as air."
April 4, 1865: Ten days before his murder, Lincoln reportedly told a friend of a dream — in which he was assassinated. In the dream, Lincoln heard people sobbing. He entered the East Room, saw a corpse and asked a soldier: "Who is dead in the White House?" Soldier: "The president. He was killed by an assassin." A week after the dream — and four days before his murder — Lincoln told the friend, Ward Hill Lamon, that it had "strangely annoyed" him.
April 4, 1910: William Howard Taft became the first president to toss the opening first pitch of the baseball season. Every president since but one — Jimmy Carter – has thrown out the first pitch at least once during his presidency.
April 4, 1949: President Truman signed the North Atlantic Pact; a mutual defense treaty among 12 nations.
April 4, 1968: Security was quickly tightened at the White House after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; after King's death, fires and looting came within two blocks of the White House; troops were stationed on the lawn; machine gun nests sprouted.
Quote of the day
"The right thing to do never requires any subterfuge, it is always simple and direct." — Calvin Coolidge
More from West Wing Reports...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 13 Urban Outfitters controversies
- Will the Higgs Boson destroy the universe in a cosmic death bubble?
- America is doomed! (And other thoughts on our gloomy historical moment.)
- Your 2-year-old doesn't need to go to school
Subscribe to the Week