A.S.H. Smyth

Blessed are the speechmakers?

As the election season finally gets its boots on, office-seeking motor-mouths of every creed and colour would do well to remember the tale of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States of America, who died on this day in 1841, exactly one month after taking office.

The ‘pneumonia of the lower lobe of the right lung’ (plus complications) was said to be brought on by a cold, contracted on the day of his inauguration when Harrison gave a two-hour speech – at 8,500 words, the...

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