Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.
Today in 1923, President Warren G. Harding died suddenly of a stroke in San Francisco. Just after midnight, Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as President by his father on the other side of the country in Vermont.
Harding was the sixth president to die in office, and the second in a row to have a stroke. Woodrow Wilson has suffered a massive stroke in Colorado in October 1919, and sequestered himself in the White House (with rare exception) until the end of his presidential term.
Being president, it seems, is a dangerous business. Harding was the twenty-eighth president of the United States. Statistically speaking, the odds of dying in office back then were one in four.
These days, being the president is slightly less risky (two in eleven), but the stresses are the same. A doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, Michael Roizan, MD, has done the math: it seems presidents age two years for every year they are in office, due to the stress of the position.
Few presidents had more stress than Abraham Lincoln. Take a look at the two photos below. One was taken in 1860, before Lincoln became president, the other is the last known portrait of Lincoln in 1865.