February 12th, 2017

book cover - rtfl

First Lady Louisa Adams

On this date in 1775, Louisa Catherine Johnson was born in London, England. Her father, Joshua Johnson, was an American merchant from Maryland (he was US Consul General in London after 1790), and her mother, Catherine Nuth-Johnson, was English. Louisa, her parents, and her seven siblings were living in France during the Revolutionary War when, at the age of 4, she met 12-year-old John Quincy Adams, who was traveling with his father. A decade and a half later, when she was living again in London, she once again met John Quincy Adams, and in July 1797, she married the son of the second President. Louisa followed her husband to the US, and then to Russia (where he was the US Minister), and then to Ghent to negotiate the end of the War of 1812. They moved to Washington, DC, in 1817, when he was appointed Secretary of State, and then into the White House in 1825 (Louisa was the only foreign-born First Lady, until Donald Trump's 2017 inauguration brought his wife Melania into the White House). After their brief retirement in Massachusetts, they moved back to Washington when her husband became the only former President to be elected to the House of Representatives. He served there 17 years, dying in 1848, in the Capitol. She outlived him by four years, and then was buried with him and her in-laws in Quincy, Massachusetts.
book cover - tpbol

President Abraham Lincoln

On this date in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born into a poor farming family in Kentucky. In 1832, he made his first run for political office, a losing campaign for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly. Two years later, he won it, and began teaching himself law. He was admitted to the bar in 1837. In 1846, he was elected to the House of Representatives as a Whig, but served only one term. In 1848, he turned down an appointment as governor of the Oregon Territory, and returned to Illinois to resume his legal practice. In 1854, he helped form the Republican Party in Illinois out of the remnants of the Whigs, and in 1858, he famously debated Stephen A. Douglas during a campaign for the Senate. The Democrats and Douglas won that election, but in 1860, the Republican Party chose Lincoln as its candidate for the Presidency. The election of the anti-slavery candidate Lincoln precipitated the Civil War, which defined his Presidency, and he was the only President to preside over a nation of fewer states than his predecessor, as the eleven southern states seceded. He was re-elected in 1864, and assassinated 42 days after taking the oath of office a second time, on April 15, 1865.

His portrait graces the one cent coin and the five dollar bill, and his is one of the four heads on Mount Rushmore, and one of the three major memorials in Washington, DC.
book cover - rtvp

Vice Presidential wedding anniversary: the second Mortons

On this date in 1873, 48-year-old Levi Parsons Morton married 26-year-old Anna Livingston Read Street as his second wife (his first wife had died in 1871, after fifteen years of marriage, and one daughter). At the time of their marriage, Levi was a successful banker, and over the next few years, they had five daughters. In 1876, New York's 11th district elected him to the first of two terms in the House of Representatives. He resigned 17 days into his second term when he was appointed US Minister to France (where he served for four years). In 1888, Levi was elected the 22nd Vice President, on Benjamin Harrison's ticket, and during their four years in Washington, Anna often handled entertaining duties for the administration due to First Lady Caroline Harrison's illness and then her death. In 1894, Levi was elected Governor of New York for one term. Anna died in 1918, at the age of 72. Levi died in 1920, on his 96th birthday, the only Vice President to outlive two wives.