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April 2017

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March 4th, 2017

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Presidential wedding anniversary: the Reagans (second marriage)

On this date in 1952, Hollywood actors Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis were married. It was his second marriage (he had previously been married to another actress, Jane Wyman) and her first, but it was to be the last for both of them. The two had met in 1948 when Nancy, concerned about the Hollywood black list, contacted Reagan, who was at the time the President of the Screen Actors Guild. The previous five Presidents who married twice were widowed in their first marriages: Reagan was the first divorcee to be elected President (Donald Trump is the second). The Reagans had two children, two terms in Sacramento (he was elected governor of California in 1966 and 1970), and two terms in Washington, DC (1981-89). Their marriage lasted 52 years, ending with his death in June 2004.
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Inauguration Day

Other than George Washington's first term, and those who succeeded to the office mid-term, every President from the George Washington (second term) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (first term) officially took office on March 4th. That is: George Washington's second inaugural (March 4, 1793), John Adams (March 4, 1797), Thomas Jefferson (March 4, 1801, and March 4, 1805), James Madison (March 4, 1809, and March 4, 1813), James Monroe (March 4, 1817, and March 4, 1821), John Quincy Adams (March 4, 1825), Andrew Jackson (March 4, 1829, and March 4, 1833), Martin Van Buren (March 4, 1837), William Henry Harrison (March 4, 1841), James Knox Polk (March 4, 1845), Zachary Taylor (March 4, 1849), Franklin Pierce (March 4, 1853), James Buchanan (March 4, 1857), Abraham Lincoln (March 4, 1861, and March 4, 1865), Ulysses Grant (March 4, 1869, and March 4, 1873), Rutherford B. Hayes (March 4, 1877), James A. Garfield (March 4, 1881), Grover Cleveland (March 4, 1885, and again on March 4, 1893), Benjamin Harrison (March 4, 1889), William McKinley (March 4, 1897, and March 4, 1901), Theodore Roosevelt's only elected term (March 4, 1905), William Howard Taft (March 4, 1909), Woodrow Wilson (March 4, 1913, and March 4, 1917), Warren G. Harding (March 4, 1921), Calvin Coolidge's only elected term (March 4, 1925), Herbert Hoover (March 4, 1929), and Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term (March 4, 1933).

On January 23, 1933, the 20th Amendment was ratified, changing Inauguration Day from March 4th to January 20th, although that provision went into effect following the election of 1936. The 20th Amendment also changed the beginning of Congressional terms to January 3rd, and required Congress to meet at least once a year, on that new day.
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Second Lady Ellen Colfax

On this date in 1911, former Second Lady Ellen Maria Wade Colfax died at the age of 74. In 1863, Schuyler Colfax's first wife, Evelyn Clark, died after 19 years of marriage. In 1868, Schuyler was elected the 17th Vice President, on Ulysses Grant's ticket. Two weeks after the election, Schuyler and Ellen married, and in 1870, while she was Second Lady, Ellen gave birth to their only son, Schuyler III (who was mayor of South Bend, Indiana, from 1898 to 1901). Schuyler served one term as Vice President, and was dropped from Grant's re-election ticket. He died in 1885.