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May 2016




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May. 24th, 2016

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Cabinet: John Foster Dulles

On this date in 1959, John Foster Dulles died under mysterious circumstances. The 71-year-old had been the 52nd Secretary of State (January 21, 1953-April 22, 1959), and left office because of illness. His 32-day retirement from the Cabinet is the shortest of all Cabinet Secretaries.

May. 23rd, 2016

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Cabinet: Martin Van Buren

On this date in 1831, 10th Secretary of State Martin Van Buren resigned after two years in office. He was a successful Secretary, but resigned to help President Andrew Jackson with an overall Cabinet shake-up. Jackson named Van Buren minister to Great Britain, but the Senate rejected the nomination. In 1832, Van Buren was elected Jackson's second Vice President (John C. Calhoun was dropped from the ticket), and in 1836, Van Buren won his own term as President. Van Buren was the fifth Secretary of State to later be elected President.

May. 22nd, 2016

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Cabinet: Henry L. Stimson

On this date in 1911, Henry L. Stimson took up his post as the 45th Secretary of War, appointed by Republican William Howard Taft. He served until the end of Taft's term, in 1913. Sixteen years later, in March 1929, Republican Herbert Hoover appointed Stimson the 46th Secretary of State, and he served the full four years of Hoover's term. In July 1940, Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt recalled Stimson to head the War Department, making him the 54th Secretary. Stimson resigned in September 1945, five months after Roosevelt's death, during Democrat Harry Truman's term. Stimson is the only person to serve in the Cabinet under four Presidents.
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First Lady Helen Taft

On this date in 1943, former First Lady Helen Taft died 11 days before her 82nd birthday. Helen had been First Lady from 1909 to 1913, and is the only woman to have been married to both a President and a Supreme Court Justice (her husband, William Howard, was both). Her thirty years of retirement from being First Lady places her tenth on that list. Her husband predeceased her by 13 years.
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First Lady Martha Washington

On this date in 1802, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, the first First Lady, became the first to die. Mrs. Washington (or Lady Washington, as she was called while her husband was President) died 11 days before her 71st birthday, and two and a half years after her husband George.

May. 21st, 2016

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George H.W. Bush: longest-lived Presidential father

Today, George Herbert Walker Bush, father of 43rd President George Walker Bush, becomes the longest-lived Presidential father. Millard Fillmore's father, Nathaniel, had held the record (he died at the age of 91 years 343 days).

The senior President Bush is the second retired President to have his son elected President (after John Adams). Unlike the Adamses, however, improved communication and transportation technologies enabled the first President Bush to attend his son's inauguration and frequently visit him in the White House. Also, the senior President Bush was 76 when his son was inaugurated, while the senior President Adams was nearly 90. George Herbert Walker Bush was born June 12, 1924, and passed John Adams for the #2 spot on this list on February 14, 2015. He is the oldest living President, and number 3 on the list of longest-lived Presidents.
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Presidential parents: William Howard Taft

On this date in 1891, Alphonso Taft died at the age of 80 years 198 days. He was the 31st Secretary of War from March 8 to May 22, 1876, and then he moved over to be the 34th Attorney General, retiring from that post on March 4, 1877 (the day President Grant left office).

In 1857, his third (of six) children, William Howard, was born. That son grew up to succeed his father as the 42nd Secretary of War (1904-08), and then exceeded him as the 27th President of the United States (1909-13) and the 10th Chief Justice (1921-30).

Alphonso is number nine on the list of longest-lived Presidential fathers.

May. 20th, 2016

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Vice Presidential anniversary: the Wallaces

On this date in 1914, 26-year-old Ilo Browne married 25-year-old Henry Agard Wallace. The Wallaces had three children, and in 1926, founded the Hi-Bred Corn Company. In 1933, Henry was appointed the 11th Secretary of Agriculture (his father, Henry C., had been the 7th Secretary). In 1940, Henry was elected the 33rd Vice President of the United States, for Franklin Roosevelt’s third term. In 1944, he was dropped from the ticket in favor of Harry Truman, and after Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration, Henry was appointed the 10th Secretary of Commerce. Truman fired him in late 1946. Henry died in November 1965; Ilo died in February 1981.
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Supreme Court: John Marhsall Harlan II

On this date in 1899, John Marshall Harlan II was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father, John Maynard Harlan, was the son of John Marshall Harlan (who was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1877 to 1911). Dwight Eisenhower appointed the younger John Marshall Harlan to the Supreme Court in 1955, just a year after appointing him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Harlan retired from the Court in 1971, months before his death from spinal cancer.
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Supreme Court: Stephen Johnson Field

On this date in 1863, Associate Justice Stephen Johnson Field took his seat on the Supreme Court. The 47-year-old was Abraham Lincoln's fourth appointment to the Court, and the first Justice from California (he was appointed while he was the 5th Chief Justice of California). Field was an Associate Justice for 34 years, 195 days (the second-longest term of all Justices); he retired on December 1, 1897, and died a year and a half later.

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