The Dead Presidents

An interesting discovery for Presidents’ Day: a list of the causes of death of each one, e.g.:

John Quincy Adams: paralysis (stroke), at his desk in the House of Representatives. Adams had risen and loudly exclaimed his “No!” vote to a resolution to present swords to veterans of the Mexican War (which Adams had strongly opposed) when he became flushed and unable to speak. He then clutched his chair and fell into the arms of his fellow House members.

William Harrison: pleurisy, pneumonia (gave his inaugural address in snow and freezing rain without adequate clothing; caught a severe cold that developed quickly into fatal pneumonia, because he failed to heed the chills and fever that developed immediately after the speech, instead appearing, dancing, and drinking at all of the inaugural balls)

James Garfield: assassinated (Actually, Garfield was definitely killed by his doctors probing for bullet; he would have completely recovered otherwise — the doctors who thought the bullet went where in fact it did were overruled by their elders who thought otherwise, and who stuck unclean metal probes into the President’s wounds in vain attempts to locate the bullet, introducing infection and making brand new holes and paths that just confused them all the more. The metal detector they tried would have worked to find the bullet, but they didn’t think to move him off the metal bedsprings, so instead they kept poking, believing that Alexander Graham Bell’s invention was useless.)

[JG: for more on this one see Candace Millard, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President (2012).]

Warren Harding: apoplexy (rupture of brain artery, stroke), pneumonia, and enlargement of the heart, all brought on by high blood pressure (his “friends” basically killed him with the scandals that racked his presidency)