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February 2017




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Feb. 23rd, 2017

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President John Quincy Adams

On this date in 1848, Representative John Quincy Adams died, two days after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage on the floor of the House of Representatives. He had represented Massachusetts in the House since 1831 (the only former President to be elected to the House). Prior to that, Adams was the sixth President of the United States (1825-29). In office, he was only the second President to not be re-elected, and the first son of a former President to be elected President himself. His most lasting contributions to the nation may not have come from his Presidency, but rather his other activities before and after those four years. During his time in the House, Adams successfully argued the case of United States v. The Amistad Africans before the Supreme Court. Prior to his Presidency, he was the 8th Secretary of State (1817-25, under James Monroe), who formulated what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine.

Born in 1767, he traveled the world with his father, John Adams, representing the brand new nation. The elder Adams was American envoy to France (1778-79) and to the Netherlands (1780-82), introducing John Quincy to diplomatic missions before his teenage years. At the age of 14, John Quincy joined the three-year American mission to Russia, seeking diplomatic recognition of the United States. He also spent time in Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.

As an adult (following his graduation from Harvard in 1790), he practiced law for a few years, before being appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands (1794-97) and Prussia (1797-1801). He returned home to represent Massachusetts in the Senate (1803-08), and then became Ambassador to Russia (1808-14) and the United Kingdom (1814-17), returning home again to become Secretary of State.

On August 15, 1813, John Quincy's older sister Abigail Adams Smith died, making him the senior Presidential child. He held that title until his death, making him the only President to also be the senior Presidential child at the same time. George W. Bush may one day have both titles, but not simultaneously.

Feb. 22nd, 2017

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Second Lady Ilo Wallace

On this date in 1981, Ilo Browne Wallace died, two weeks before her 93rd birthday. Born in Indianola, Iowa, she married Henry Agard Wallace in May 1914, and they had three children in the next few years. In 1926, using an inheritance from her parents, the Wallaces and their business partners established the Hi-Bred Corn Company, which developed and distributed hybrid maize. The company, now known as Pioneer Hi-Bred International, is the world’s second largest seed company. In 1933, Henry was appointed the 11th Secretary of Agriculture. In 1940, he was elected the 33rd Vice President. And in 1945, he was appointed the 10th Secretary of Commerce. Henry died in 1965.
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President George Washington

On this date in 1732, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Augustine Washington (1694–1743) and his second wife, Mary Ball Washington (1708–1789), welcomed the birth of their first child (of six), who they named George. They probably had no idea he'd grow up to be the first President of a country that hadn't even been invented at the time. Mary lived long enough to see that happen (she died four months after George became the first President of the United States). Before his inauguration, George was a surveyor, served in the militia, fought alongside other British officers during the French and Indian War, built a thriving plantation, took command of the rebel army in the colonies seeking to separate from Great Britain, and presided over the Constitutional Convention in 1787. As the first President, many of Washington's decisions set the precedents that his successors still adhere to more than two centuries later.

Feb. 21st, 2017

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Presidential wedding anniversary: the Van Burens

On this day in 1807, 24-year-old Martin Van Buren married almost-24-year-old Hannah Hoes. The childhood sweethearts were first cousins once removed. Nine months after the wedding, the first son, Abraham, was born. They had three more sons by 1817. Sixteen days before their 12th anniversary, Hannah died of tuberculosis, while Martin was serving as New York State's 14th Attorney General. He then went on to serve as a US Senator representing New York, Governor of New York, Secretary of State, Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the 8th Vice President, and then the 8th President of the United States. Martin died in 1862, having never remarried.
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Presidential children: William Howard Taft

On this date in 1987, Helen Herron Taft Manning died at the age of 95 years 204 days -- the second longest-lived of all Presidential children. Born August 1, 1891, she was the second of William Howard Taft's three children. She earned a doctorate in history from Yale, and was later dean of Bryn Mawr College. At the time of her death, she was the Senior Living Presidential Child, having succeeded to that position when Grover Cleveland's daughter Esther died on June 26, 1980.

Feb. 20th, 2017

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First(ish) Lady Ivana Trump

On this date in 1949, Ivana Marie Zelnickova was born in Zlín (formerly known as Gottwaldov), Czechoslovakia. In 1971, Zelnícková married real estate agent Alfred Winklmayr. They divorced in 1973, and then she moved to Canada. In 1977, she married Donald J. Trump as his first wife. They had three children together, and she became a naturalized US citizen in 1988. Ivana and Donald divorced in 1992. Soon after that divorce, Ivana married Riccardo Mazzucchelli; that marriage lasted two years. In April 2008, Ivana, then 59, married Rossano Rubicondi, then 36, in a $3 million wedding for 400 guests hosted by Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate. Daughter Ivanka Trump was her maid of honor. On December 1, 2008, Ivana confirmed to the Associated Press that she had filed a legal separation agreement three months previously; she has stated in interviews that she and her husband have an on-again/off-again relationship.
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Second Lady Muriel Humphrey

On this date in 1912, Muriel Fay Buck was born in South Dakota. In 1934, she met Hubert Humphrey, and married him two years later (they went on to have four children). From 1945 to 1948, he was mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and from 1949, he represented Minnesota in the Senate. In 1964, Hubert was elected Vice President on Lyndon Johnson’s ticket, and Muriel became Second Lady of the United States on January 20, 1965. In 1968, Hubert ran for the Presidency, but lost to Richard Nixon. He was again elected to the Senate in 1970, and served until his death in early 1978. When he died, Muriel was appointed to his seat, becoming the first spouse of a former Vice President to serve in Congress. She was also the first woman to represent Minnesota in the Senate (Minnesota wouldn’t elect its first female Senator until 2006). Muriel served from January 25 to November 7, 1978, but did not run in the election to fill the seat.

In 1981, she remarried. She died in 1998, and her second husband, Max Brown, died in 2004. Muriel is buried with Hubert in Minneapolis.
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Vice Presidential wedding anniversary: the Tompkinses

On this date in 1798, 16-year-old Hannah Minthorne married 23-year-old lawyer Daniel D. Tompkins. They had eight children between 1800 and 1814. In 1807, Daniel was elected governor of New York, and re-elected several times, staying in office until February 1817, when he resigned days before being inaugurated as the sixth Vice President. Hannah missed that inauguration due to illness. Daniel was the first Vice President to serve eight full years in the office. He died months after retiring, in 1825, the youngest Vice President to die. Hannah survived him by fewer than four years, and died two days before what would have been their 31st anniversary.
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Cabinet: Ethan Allen Hitchcock

On this date in 1899, Ethan Allen Hitchcock took office as the 22nd Secretary of the Interior. Appointed by William McKinley, and kept on by Theodore Roosevelt, he served until March 4, 1907, 8 years 12 days, making him one of only eleven Cabinet members to serve more than eight years in one post.

Prior to serving in the Cabinet, he'd been US Ambassador to Russia for a year and a half, after a 40-year career in business. Hitchcock died two years after leaving the Cabinet, at the age of 73.
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Presidential children: Theodore Roosevelt

On this date in 1980, Alice Lee Roosevelt Longworth died eight days after her 96th birthday. The only child of President Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice, she was the longest-lived Presidential child. She married Ohio Representative Nicholas Longworth (who was later Speaker of the House) in the East Room of the White House in 1906.

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