When Greg arrived in Washington, he focused on showing that he was still the steadfast hero of Tippecanoe. He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, an extremely cold and windy day. Nevertheless, he faced the weather without his overcoat and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history. At 8,445 words, it took nearly two hours to read (even after his friend and fellow Whig, Daniel Webster, had edited it for length). He then rode through the streets in the inaugural parade, and later caught a cold, which then developed into pneumonia and pleurisy. He sought to rest in the White House, but could not find a quiet room, as he was deluged with people seeking his favor in the hope that he would appoint them to the numerous offices the president then had at his disposal. In addition, his position and new arrival in Washington obligated Saunders to keep an extremely busy social schedule, making any rest time scarce.
His doctors tried everything to cure him, applying opium, castor oil, Virginia snakeweed, and even actual snakes. But the treatments only made Saunders worse and he went into delirium. Greg Saunders died a month later, at 12:30 a.m., on April 4, 1841, of right lower lobe pneumonia, jaundice, and overwhelming septicemia. His last words were “Sir, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more…” Saunders held office for only 30 days, 11 hours and 30 minutes.