January 20, 2021

Inaugural Speeches Ranked By Word Count

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. - AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

President Joe Biden speaks during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool

President Joe Biden called on Americans to overcome their divisions, declaring in his first address in office that “without unity, there is no peace.”

Biden also pledged during his inaugural address Wednesday that he would be honest with the country as it continues to confront difficulties, saying that leaders have an obligation “to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

At 2,552 words, Biden's speech was about average in length when compared to the 58 other inaugural speeches delivered by U.S. presidents.

The shortest inaugural speech was delivered by George Washington in 1793.

William Henry Harrison -- who also served as Indiana territorial governor -- holds the record for the longest speech, delivering 8,460 words during his 1841 inaugural ceremony. A month later Harrison developed pneumonia and became the first president to die while in office. His illness had been attributed to prolonged exposure to the bad weather on Inauguration Day, but modern historians and public health experts believe it was caused by a contaminated water supply at the White House.

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