March 24th, 2017

book cover - tpbol

Supreme Court: Ward Hunt

On this date in 1886, former Associate Justice Ward Hunt died four years after retiring from the Supreme Court. Hunt had been born in June 1810, and he was 62 years 209 days old when Ulysses Grant appointed him to the Court on January 9, 1873 (he was the sixth oldest Supreme Court appointee).
book cover - tpbol

Cabinet: James Rudolph Garfield

On this date in 1950, James Rudolph Garfield died. He had been the 23rd Secretary of the Interior, serving the last two years of Theodore Roosevelt's term. Garfield was the second son of President James Abram Garfield; he was 15 when his father was assassinated. Secretary Garfield joined Roosevelt's Cabinet when he was 41, and at the time of his death, he had been retired from the Cabinet 41 years 19 days. At that time, his was the fourth longest retirement of any Cabinet Secretary (currently, he is number eleven on that list).

Six days before Secretary Garfield died, Rutherford Hayes' daughter Fanny Hayes Smith had died. Fanny had been the senior Presidential child for about three years, so Garfield had the title for six days (his brother Abram succeeded him as senior Presidential child for 16 months).
book cover - rtvp

Vice President William King

On this date in 1853, Vice President William King took the oath of office. It was an unusual event for several reasons. First, because King had actually taken office on the fourth of March (along with President Franklin Pierce), but he hadn't been in Washington for the inaugural ceremonies. And second, because he took the oath of office in Cuba. King had been a Senator representing Alabama when he was elected Vice President. At the time of the election, he was suffering terminal tuberculosis, so he went to Cuba, hoping the change in climate would help him heal. In recognition of his long Senate service, his former colleagues adopted a special resolution allowing him to take the oath of office on foreign soil.

King returned home to his Alabama plantation in early April, and died there, never having made it to the national capital during his term of office.