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February 2016

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Feb. 10th, 2016

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Presidential wedding anniversary: the Hoovers

On this date in 1899, Louise "Lou" Henry married Herbert Hoover. They had met in 1894, when they were both students at Stanford University. They were ready to marry by the end of that year, but put off their plans until she graduated (and while he pursued his engineering career in Australia). Soon after the wedding, they headed to China for Herbert's new job, where they were during the Boxer Rebellion. Later, his work took them to Australia for several years. During and after World War I, they were active in humanitarian relief efforts, and in 1921, President Harding appointed Herbert Secretary of Commerce. He was the Republican candidate for President in 1928, and the Hoovers lived in the White House for four years, marking the beginning of the Great Depression. Following that one term, they lived in Palo Alto, California. Lou died of a heart attack in January 1944. Following her death, the former President lived most of the time in his apartment in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. He died in 1964, the second President to live more than 90 years, and the first to be a retired President for more than 30 years.
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Presidential wedding anniversary: the second Fillmores

On this date in 1858, 44-year-old widow Caroline Carmichael McIntosh married 58-year-old retired President Millard Fillmore (he was the first President to marry after leaving office). Fillmore had been President from 1850 to 1853. His first wife, Abigail, died a month after they retired from the White House. Caroline's first husband, Ezekiel C. McIntosh, was the very wealthy president of the Schenectady and Troy Railroad; he died in 1855, after 22 years of marriage. The McIntoshes had no children, and upon Ezekiel's death, Caroline became very wealthy; she required her second husband to sign a prenuptial agreement. They had an apparently happy life together until his death in 1874. She outlived him by seven years.

Feb. 9th, 2016

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President William Henry Harrison

On this date in 1773, William Henry Harrison was born in Charles City County, Virginia. He was the youngest child of Benjamin Harrison V, who signed the Declaration of Independence. William joined the US Army at the age of 18 as an ensign. He rose to the rank of lieutenant during the Northwest Indian War, and resigned from the Army in 1797. In 1799, he was elected as the delegate representing the Northwest Territory to Congress. The next year, President John Adams appointed him governor of the Indiana Territory. He held that office until 1812, although in 1811, the Secretary of War authorized Harrison to raise an army to march against the Shawnee, in what became known as Tecumseh's War. It was for his actions at that time that he became famous for the Battle of Tippecanoe. He kept his command through the War of 1812. In 1816, he was elected to the House of Representatives, representing Ohio, where he served until 1819. Then he was elected to the Ohio State Senate, and served two years. In 1824, he was elected to the Senate, again from Ohio, but resigned in 1828 to become Minister to Colombia, though he stayed only a year and a half. After retiring to private life in 1829, Harrison was one of the four Whig candidates for President in 1836; Martin Van Buren beat them all. In 1840, Harrison was the sole Whig candidate, and defeated Van Buren. His Presidency is remembered most for its brevity: he caught cold at his inauguration, and died after one month in office. At 67, he was the oldest President to be elected until 69-year-old Ronald Reagan won the office in 1980.

Feb. 8th, 2016

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Vice President Charles Curtis

On this date in 1936, 31st Vice President Charles Curtis died of a heart attack, less than three years after retiring from the Vice Presidency. Curtis was 69 years old when he took office, the oldest man to become Vice President to that point (his record was only exceeded by Alben Barkley in 1949). Curtis' 2 years 341 days of retirement is the third shortest of all Vice Presidents who survived to the ends of their terms. He was Vice President under Herbert Hoover, whose 31-plus years of retirement is the second longest of all former Presidents.
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Cabinet: Albert Gallatin

On this date in 1814, Albert Gallatin (1761-1849) retired as the 4th Secretary of the Treasury. Born in Switzerland, he was the second foreign-born SecTreas (after Alexander Hamilton). Gallatin was appointed by Thomas Jefferson on May 14, 1801, and he stayed in office through the end of Jefferson's term as well as through both of James Madison's elections. Gallatin left office after serving 12 years 268 days, making him the longest-serving Secretary of the Treasury, and the third-longest serving Cabinet officer in US history.

Feb. 7th, 2016

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Vice Presidential wedding anniversary: the Clintons

On this date in 1770, 30-year-old George Clinton married 26-year-old Sarah Cornelia Tappen. Over the next fifteen years, they had five daughters and one son, the longest-lived of whom died before her 45th birthday. In 1777, George was elected Governor of New York for the first time (he stayed in office until 1795). In 1792, he received 50 electoral votes to John Adams' 77 for Vice President. In March 1800, Sarah died after a long illness, and the next month, George was elected to the New York State Assembly. In 1801, he was elected Governor again, and in 1804, he was elected the fourth Vice President. He was the first Vice President to serve under two Presidents, and in 1812, became the first to die in office.

Feb. 6th, 2016

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President Ronald Reagan

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, on this date in 1911. He was an actor, and elected president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1947 to 1952, and then again for one year in 1959. In the 1930s and '40s, he was a staunch Democrat, but his politics shifted in the 1950s, and he supported Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon's runs for President. In 1966, he was one of the first actors to make the switch to politics, as he was elected governor of California. He was re-elected in 1970, and left office in January 1975. In 1976, he challenged the sitting President, Gerald Ford, for the Republican nomination, but didn't get the nomination. After Ford's loss to Jimmy Carter, Reagan won the nomination in 1980, and handily won that election, 489 electoral votes to 49. His re-election, in 1984, was one of the biggest landslides in US political history: he won every state but Minnesota and the District of Columbia, and took 525 of the 538 electoral votes. Reagan was (and still is) the oldest man elected President, and he was the longest lived from October 2001 (when he exceeded John Adams's 90 years, 247 days) until Gerald Ford exceeded his record of 93 years, 120 days in November of 2006. Reagan died in 2004.
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Vice President Aaron Burr

On this date in 1756, Aaron Burr, Jr., was born in Newark, New Jersey. He was the son of the second president of the College of New Jersey (which is now known as Princeton). The younger Burr received a degree in theology in 1772, but then moved to the study of law. He fought in the American Revolution, distinguishing himself for bravery, and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After the war, he earned a reputation as a brilliant trial lawyer, and was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1784. In 1789, he was appointed Attorney General of New York, and in 1791, he was elected to the US Senate. He retired from the Senate after one term, and then was elected to the New York State Assembly again, where he served until he was elected Vice President in 1800. That election prompted the passage of the 12th Amendment, which provides for the election of the President and Vice President as a slate (previously, the candidate with the second greatest number of electoral votes became the Vice President). When the electoral college tied (73 for Thomas Jefferson, and 73 for Burr), the election was thrown to the House of Representatives, which took 36 ballots to decide in Jefferson's favor. Following that unpleasantness, Jefferson was turned against Burr, and dropped him from the ticket in the election of 1804, choosing George Clinton instead. In 1804, Burr ran for the governorship of New York, but lost. Also in 1804, he dueled with Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton over an insult, and killed Hamilton. Still later in his life, he was charged with (and twice acquitted of) treason, lived for a time in Europe, and then returned to the US. He suffered a stroke in 1835, and died in September 1836.

Feb. 5th, 2016

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Presidential wedding anniversary: the Fillmores

On this date in 1826, 26-year-old Millard Fillmore married 27-year-old Abigail Powers. She was a teacher, and he was studying the law. In 1848, he was elected Vice President, and in July 1850, he became President upon Zachary Taylor's death. Abigail caught cold at the inaugural ceremonies for Millard's successor, Franklin Pierce. The cold turned into pneumonia, and she died on March 30, 1853, 26 days after his retirement.
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First Lady Hannah Van Buren

On this date in 1819, Hannah Hoes Van Buren died of tuberculosis, a month before her 36th birthday. Twelve years earlier, she had married Martin Van Buren, and in the following ten years, they had four sons. In 1832, Martin was elected Vice President, and in 1836, President. Hannah was the third woman to marry a man who would later become President, but die before he took office (Martha Jefferson and Rachel Jackson also died before their husbands' terms).

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