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Presidential Funerals. History Traditions Trivia. Presidential Funerals. There are no “directions” on funerals for presidents. Some traditions Wishes of the family Differences in the popularity of presidents, if they died in office, assassinated, etc. . Early Presidents.

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presidential funerals

Presidential Funerals




presidential funerals2
Presidential Funerals
  • There are no “directions” on funerals for presidents.
    • Some traditions
    • Wishes of the family
    • Differences in the popularity of presidents, if they died in office, assassinated, etc.
early presidents
Early Presidents
  • Early presidents died in their homes and were buried there.
tradition to notify the public that a president had died
Tradition to Notify the Public that a President had died:
  • Lowering flags to half-staff for 30 days.
  • Arranged times to ring bells according to their presidential number.
    • The bells rang 38 times for President Ford on Tuesday.
trivia confusion for the public when john adams and thomas jefferson died
Trivia: Confusion for the public when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died:
  • Our second (Adams) and third (Jefferson) presidents both died July 4, 1826.
  • Some bells didn’t have enough break between peals – and some people thought President Monroe was dead!
overlapping deaths
Overlapping Deaths
  • Former Presidents Johnson and Truman died within 21 days of one another.
  • Flags stayed half-staffed for 60 days.
presidential funeral traditions
Presidential Funeral Traditions
  • It has also been tradition to take the former president’s picture and put it on display with a black draping over the top.
  • Today more common for presidents to have their portrait framed or matted in black for public remembrances.
presidential funerals8
Presidential Funerals
  • The first president to die in office was William Henry Harrison.
    • Presided for only 31 days.
      • NOTE about the dangers of LONG speeches!
harrison started the tradition of lying in state in the capitol rotunda
Harrison started the tradition of “lying in state” in the Capitol Rotunda
  • Eight presidents have died in office.
    • Harrison (pneumonia)
    • Zachary Taylor (food poisoning) 1850
    • Abraham Lincoln (assassinated) 1865
    • James Garfield (assassinated) 1881
    • William McKinley (assassinated) 1901
presidents who died in office
Presidents who died in office
  • Warren G. Harding (natural causes?) 1923
  • Franklin Roosevelt (stroke) 1945
  • John F. Kennedy (assassinated) 1963
traditions of lying in state
Traditions of Lying in State
  • Honor Guard
    • Five pallbearers and guards from all branches of the military stay with the body 24 hours a day until burial.
variations of lying in state
Variations of Lying in State
  • Sometimes, as in President Ford’s case, he was moved from lying in state from the Rotunda to the hallway in front of the House of Representatives and the office of the President of the Senate.
  • Others choose to lie in state in the White House’s East Room.
typical funerals for former presidents
“Typical” funerals for former presidents
  • Lying in State in either the Capitol or the East Room.
  • Motorcade or a caisson taking their coffin to the National Cathedral.
    • Pauses along the way for significant locations / events for the departed president.
typical funeral for a president
“Typical” funeral for a president
  • A funeral list is made before death to create an invitation list.
  • Former presidents and the current president and spouses are a MUST for attendance.
sometimes presidents will want themes for their funerals
Sometimes Presidents will want “themes” for their funerals.
  • President Ford seemed to want to bring unity to the bickering and bitter feelings between Republicans and Democrats.
    • Will it work????
presidential funerals are state occasions
Presidential Funerals are State Occasions
  • Families have to share their husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather with the country
after the funeral most modern presidents have chosen burial other than in washington dc
After the funeral – most modern presidents have chosen burial other than in Washington DC.
  • Usually they choose to be buried in their home state.
  • Usually at the site of their presidential libraries.
  • Graveside services are usually for the family / friends.
modern exceptions to presidential funerals
Modern Exceptions to Presidential Funerals
  • President Richard Nixon
    • Only president to resign the presidency.
    • Many considered a criminal.
    • Washington funeral would be too controversial.
    • Funeral stayed in California.
procedures for assassinated presidents
Procedures for Assassinated Presidents

They follow the procedure of the first assassinated president.

Jackie Kennedy brought the “custom” back when her husband was murdered in 1963.

what about presidential wives
What About Presidential Wives?
  • First Ladies do not get state funerals.
  • Often, their portraits are brought to the front entry of the White House and draped in black for thirty days.
first lady funerals
First Lady Funerals
  • Private affairs but sometimes presidents or their spouses will attend.
  • Honor guards also preside.