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April 2017



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February 6th, 2017

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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.
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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 the oldest man elected President (until Donald Trump in 2016), 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.