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September 2014

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Sep. 21st, 2014

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Vice President Walter Mondale

On this date in 1993, Walter F. Mondale assumed his post as the 24th US Ambassador to Japan. Mondale served until December 1996. Mondale, a Democrat, had been the 42nd Vice President (1977-81), and lost the Presidential election of 1984 to Republican Ronald Reagan. The next Democratic President, Bill Clinton, appointed Mondale to his ambassadorship.
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First Lady Margaret Taylor

On this date in 1788, Margaret "Peggy" Mackall Smith was born in Calvert County, Virginia. While visiting her sister in Kentucky in 1809, she met Lieutenant Zachary Taylor, and married him the next year. In 1849, they moved to Washington when Zachary was elected President. Sixteen months later, he became the second President to die in office, and her health declined precipitously. She died in 1852.
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Cabinet: Henry L. Stimson

On this date in 1867, Henry Lewis Stimson was born in New York City. In May 1911, former Secretary of War (and current President) William Howard Taft appointed Stimson the 45th Secretary of War. He served just under two years, to the end of Taft's term. Sixteen years later, in March 1929, Herbert Hoover appointed Stimson the 46th Secretary of State, and they both left office in March 1933, when Franklin Roosevelt became President. In July 1940, however, Roosevelt returned Stimson to his post at the War Department, this time as the 54th Secretary. He resigned this time on September 21, 1945 (his 78th birthday), five months after Harry Truman took office. Stimson died in 1950.
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Presidential parents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

On this date in 1854, Sara Delano was born. In 1880, she married widower James Roosevelt (who was 26 years her senior), and two years later, gave birth to their only son, Franklin Delano. James died in 1900, leaving her a widow for more than 40 years (she died on September 7, 1941). She is the only woman to see her son win three Presidential elections.
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Presidential parents: James Garfield

On this date in 1801, Eliza Ballou (later Garfield) was born. Nearly 80 years later, she became the first mother of a President to attend his inauguration, when her son James Abram was took the oath of office. She lived in the White House during his term, and died January 21, 1888, six and a half years after her son was assassinated.

Sep. 20th, 2014

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President Chester Arthur

In the early morning hours on this date in 1881, Vice President Chester Arthur was told of President James Garfield's death a few hours before. Garfield had been shot in July, but lingered for two months. During those two months, Arthur made himself a recluse, trying to avoid accusations of complicity in Garfield's death, while at the same time avoiding the image of usurping the office before Garfield had died. Most of that time, he spent in his home in New York City.

Learning of Garfield's death, Arthur was sworn in as the 21st President about one in the morning. Realizing that, with Congress not in session, there was no President pro tem of the Senate (the Constitutional successor to the Vice President) or Speaker of the House (next in line), Arthur feared a possible interregnum if something were to happen to him. He drafted a proclamation calling the Senate into special session, and sent it to the White House.

Once safely in Washington, Arthur destroyed the proclamation, called the Senate into session, and took the oath of office again on the 22nd, with Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering.
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Cabinet: Henry A. Wallace

On this date in 1946, President Harry Truman fired Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace, who had served in the Cabinet since Franklin Roosevelt appointed him on March 2, 1945. Earlier, Wallace had been the Secretary of Agriculture from the time Roosevelt took office in 1933, until Wallace resigned in September 1940 in order to run for Vice President. He was elected, serving as Vice President from 1941 to 1945 (Roosevelt's third term), but Roosevelt dropped him from the ticket in the election of 1944 at the urging of Democratic party leaders, who recognized the strong possibility that Roosevelt might not survive his fourth term, and who didn't want Wallace to be President. Wallace was one of ten former Vice Presidents to hold high office in the government.

Sep. 19th, 2014

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President James Garfield

On this date in 1881, President James Abram Garfield died. He had been shot on July 2nd by Charles Guiteau, while waiting for a train in Washington, DC. He had planned to take the train to visit his wife, who was recovering from malaria in New Jersey. Instead, he was shot. Later in the summer, he was brought to New Jersey to convalesce. Unfortunately, the infection he contracted while being treated for the gun shot killed him.

Garfield's six-month Presidency is the second shortest (following William Henry Harrison's one month in 1841). He died about 10:30PM in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he was resting and trying to recuperate.
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Supreme Court: Lewis F. Powell

On this date in 1907, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., was born in Virginia. On January 7, 1972, he took his seat as Richard Nixon's third appointee to the Supreme Court, the third oldest Justice to take office. He retired from the Court on June 26, 1987, and died on August 25, 1998, at the age of 90 years 340 days, the eighth longest lived Justice.

Sep. 18th, 2014

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Supreme Court: Joseph Story

On this date in 1779, Joseph Story was born in Massachusetts. On February 3, 1812, he took his seat as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (he was James Madison's second appointee). Taking office at the age of 32 years 138 days, he was the 18th person appointed to the Court, the first to be born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the second youngest in history. He died in office on September 10, 1845.

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