On this day. 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.
On this day. 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.”
On this day. 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.
On this day. 1910: William Howard Taft became the first president to toss the opening first pitch of the baseball season. Every president but one — Jimmy Carter – has thrown out the first pitch at least once during his presidency.
On this day. 1949:President Truman signed the North Atlantic Pact; a mutual defense treaty among 12 nations.
On this day. 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.