On this date in 1812, Joseph Story of Massachusetts took his seat as the 18th person appointed to the Supreme Court. Born on September 18, 1779, he was 32 years 138 days old, making him the second youngest member of the Court ever (he was also the first to be born after the signing of the Declaration of Independence). He died in office on September 10, 1845.
On this date in 1795, Oliver Wolcott Jr. took office as the second Secretary of the Treasury. At the time, he was 35 years 23 days old, which makes him the fourth youngest Cabinet Secretary in US history. Wolcott served just under six years.
On this date in 1930, 10th Chief Justice William Howard Taft retired after serving nearly nine years on the Supreme Court. During that tenure, Taft said there were times when he nearly forgot he ever had been President (he had been the 27th President, from 1909 to 1913). The only man to serve as President and on the Court, he died a month after retiring from the Court.
Three years ago today, Joan Mondale died. Born Joan Adams in Eugene, Oregon, on August 8, 1930, she married Walter "Fritz" Mondale on December 27, 1955. In 1977, when Jimmy Carter and her husband became President and Vice President, Joan became the Second Lady. She was a practitioner, patron, and advocate of the arts, and President Carter appointed her honorary chairwoman of the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities. While living there, she made the Vice Presidential residence a showcase of American art. Later, when her husband served as Ambassador to Japan, Joan promoted inter-cultural understanding through art. She redecorated the US Embassy with American paintings and organized tours with a bi-lingual guide.
On this date in 1924, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, died. Born Thomas Woodrow Wilson on December 28, 1856, he dropped the first name as an adult. Wilson was the president of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, when he was elected governor of New Jersey. He served only two years in that office, because he won the Presidency in 1912 over a divided Republican Party. In 1916, he was re-elected based on his ability to keep the US out of World War I (which kicked off in 1914), but the US joined the fray in 1917. From that point on, Wilson pushed his "Fourteen Points" (goals for the post-war world) and the League of Nations (the forerunner to the United Nations). He became the first sitting President to travel to Europe in 1919, spending six months in Paris for the Peace Conference. Upon his return home, he traveled the US to promote the idea of the League of Nations (which had been adopted by many other countries). The US never signed the treaty, but Wilson won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. On that tour, in Colorado on September 25, 1919, he collapsed. On October 2, he suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed and blind in his left eye. During his six-month convalescence, it is assumed his wife, Edith, was the acting President, though she claimed she was only reporting his decisions (she allowed no one in to see him). Nevertheless, Wilson served out his second term, and then lived another three years at his home in Washington, DC.