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December 2016




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Dec. 10th, 2016

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Vice Presidential wedding anniversary: the first Hamlins

On this date in 1833, 24-year-old Hannibal Hamlin married 18-year-old Sarah Jane Emery. During their 22 years of marriage, they had four children, and Hannibal served four years in the House of Representatives. He was in his seventh year in the Senate when Sarah died in 1855. The next year, he married her younger half-sister, Ellen Vesta Emery. In 1860, he was elected Vice President of the United States.
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Presidential children: Theodore Roosevelt

On this date in 1977, Ethel Carow Roosevelt Derby died. Born August 13, 1891, she was President Theodore Roosevelt's younger daughter, and one of only 15 Presidential children to live at least 85 years (her elder half-sister Alice was the longest-lived Presidential child).

Ethel was a nurse, and during World War I, she served in France in the same hospital as her husband, who was a surgeon. She was also instrumental in turning the Roosevelt home Sagamore Hill into a National Historic Site.

Dec. 9th, 2016

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Cabinet: William N. Doak

On this date in 1930, three days before his 48th birthday, William N. Doak took office as the third Secretary of Labor (appointed by Herbert Hoover). Doak left office with Hoover, on March 3, 1933, and died in October of that year, one of 16 Cabinet Secretaries to enjoy less than a year of retirement.

Dec. 8th, 2016

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Presidential parents: William Howard Taft

On this date in 1907, Louisa Maria Torrey Taft died at the age of 80. She was the only woman to be the mother of both a President of the United States and a Justice of the US Supreme Court (both in the single person of William Howard Taft). She died while her son was Secretary of War.

Dec. 7th, 2016

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Cabinet: Hugh McCulloch

On this date in 1808, Hugh McCulloch was born. On October 31, 1884, he became the oldest person to take his seat as a member of the President's Cabinet. Aged 75 years 328 days, he was the 36th Secretary of the Treasury, serving about four months at the end of Chester Arthur's term. Previously, he had been the 27th Secretary of the Treasury (1865-69), serving under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. McCulloch died in 1895.

Dec. 6th, 2016

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Vice President Gerald Ford

On this date in 1973, Gerald R. Ford took the oath of office to become the 40th Vice President of the United States. Ford had been the House Minority Leader for almost nine years, angling for his dream job of Speaker of the House. But following Spiro Agnew's resignation, the 25th Amendment (adopted in 1967) was put into effect for the first time, and Richard Nixon nominated Ford to be the Vice President in October 1973. The Senate voted 92-3 to confirm Ford on November 27th, and the House followed suit by a vote of 387-35 on December 6th. An hour later, Ford took to the oath.

Ford's Vice Presidency was to be short-lived, as Nixon became the first President to resign the following August, and Ford became the only President never elected to either the Presidency or the Vice Presidency.
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Supreme Court: Gabriel Duvall

On this date in 1752, Gabriel Duvall was born in Prince George's County, Maryland. He fought in the Revolutionary War, served one term in the House of Representatives, and then was the first US Comptroller of the Treasury (1802-11). In 1811, two weeks before his 59th birthday, James Madison appointed him to the Supreme Court. Duvall served on the Court for 24 years, and lived nine more after his retirement. He died on March 6, 1844, aged 91 years 274 days. He is number six on the list of longest-lived Justices.

Dec. 5th, 2016

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President Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren was born on this date in 1782. He grew up to be the first US President who was born a citizen of the United States (all his predecessors had been born before independence was declared). In addition to being the 8th President (he won the election of 1836, and served until 1841, losing the election of 1840 to William Henry Harrison), he was the 8th Vice President (serving Andrew Jackson's second term, 1833-37) and the 10th Secretary of State (1829-31).

Van Buren was the last sitting Vice President to be elected President until George H.W. Bush did it in 1988. He was the first President who wasn't of British descent, and he's the only President whose native language wasn't English (he grew up speaking Dutch at home). Van Buren is one of only two Presidents to have also been both Secretary of State and Vice President (the other was Thomas Jefferson).

After President Jackson had a falling out with his first Vice President, John C. Calhoun, the latter was dropped from the ticket for re-election, and Van Buren got the slot (Calhoun was elected to a seat in the Senate). After Jackson took the oath of office a second time, he considered resigning, in order to let Van Buren become President. Van Buren dissuaded him from this course of action, served out the term, and then succeeded Jackson.

Van Buren died on July 24, 1862.

Dec. 4th, 2016

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Vice President John C. Breckinridge

On this date in 1861, Senator John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky was expelled from that body for supporting the rebelling Southern states. He had only been a member of the Senate for nine months. Previously, however, Breckinridge had been the 14th -- and youngest -- Vice President of the United States. He served in that post from 1857 to 1861. Later he would serve as the Confederacy's fifth Secretary of War, for three months in early 1865.
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Supreme Court: Philip P. Barbour

On this date in 1821, Philip P. Barbour of Virginia became the 12th Speaker of the House of Representatives (he served for about 16 months). He was a member of the House from 1814 to 1825, and then again from 1827 to 1830. In 1836, he became the only Speaker to also serve on the Supreme Court, when Andrew Jackson made him an Associate Justice. Barbour served on the Court until his death in 1841.

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