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April 2017

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Apr. 2nd, 2017

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Second Lady Eliza Burr

On this date in 1775, Eliza Bowen Jumel was born, though the details of her early life are uncertain. She may have been the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute and a sailor, or born at sea, the daughter of a French naval officer. Whatever her beginnings, she grew up poor and lower class, and aimed for more in life. In 1804, she married a wealthy merchant named Stephen Jumel, and charmed society in France. He died in 1832, and the following year, Eliza married former Vice President Aaron Burr (it was his second marriage as well). Their marriage was brief, as she soon accused him of being a fortune-seeker, and sought a divorce. Their divorce was finalized September 14, 1836, the day he died. Eliza was from then known as Madame Jumel, and traveled widely and lived comfortably until her death in 1865.
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Supreme Court: Stanley Forman Reed

On this date in 1980, Stanley Forman Reed died at the age of 95 years, 93 days. Born on the last day of 1884, he was the US Solicitor General from 1935 to 1938, when Franklin Roosevelt appointed him to the Supreme Court. Reed retired from the Court in 1957.

Reed was the longest-lived member of the Supreme Court until 2015, when John Paul Stevens (who retired from the Court in 2010) exceeded his record.
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Cabinet: James Monroe

On this date in 1811, 53-year-old James Monroe took office as the 7th Secretary of State. At the start of his six-year term, he could not find a peaceful solution to the problems with Great Britain, and concluded that war could not be more injurious than the current state of affairs between the nations. He ordered the evacuation of all important papers from the State Department in advance of the British invasion of Washington in 1814. After the British withdrawal, President Madison appointed Monroe the 8th Secretary of War (September 1814-March 1815) and military commander of the Federal District (concurrent with his duties as Secretary of State). Though he was unable to convince Congress of the need for a draft, he was able to strengthen the Army by offering greater inducements for service. Monroe was elected President in 1816, and again in 1820.

Apr. 1st, 2017

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Cabinet: John C. Calhoun

On this date in 1844, John Tyler appointed 62-year-old former Senator, former Secretary of War, and former Vice President John C. Calhoun the 16th Secretary of State. Calhoun held the job until March 10, 1845 (a few days into James Polk's term), making him one of only 13 Cabinet Secretaries to serve under three Presidents. He went on to serve another term in the Senate, dying in office in 1850.

Mar. 31st, 2017

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Vice President Al Gore

Happy 69th birthday, former Vice President Al Gore.
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Vice President John C. Calhoun

On this date in 1850, Senator John C. Calhoun died. He was representing his home state of South Carolina, on his second tour of duty in the Senate (he'd held the seat since November 1845, after previously serving in that body from December 1832 to March 1843). In between his two Senate terms, he was the 16th Secretary of State (from April 1, 1844 to March 10, 1845). Before that (from 1817 to 1825), he had been the 10th Secretary of War. He started his government career as a 29-year-old member of the House of Representatives in 1811. Following that, he was the seventh Vice President of the United States; the second to serve under two Presidents, and the first to resign his office (in order to take his seat in the Senate).

Mar. 30th, 2017

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First Lady Abigail Fillmore

On this date in 1853, Abigail Powers Fillmore died. It was 17 days after her 55th birthday, and 26 days after her husband, Millard, had retired from the Presidency. She caught cold at Franklin Pierce's inaugural ceremonies (which marked the Fillmores' departure from the White House), and that cold developed into the pneumonia which killed her. Hers was the shortest of any First Lady's retirement.

Mar. 29th, 2017

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President John Tyler

On this date in 1790, John Tyler, Jr., was born in Charles City County, Virginia. Tyler was a President of many firsts: the first Vice President to succeed to the Presidency, the first President to be widowed while in office, the first President to marry in office (his first wife died in 1842, and in 1844, he married his second wife), the first President to have children after leaving office, and the first deceased President to go unmourned in Washington, DC (he died in 1862, after having been elected to the Confederate House of Representatives).

On this date in 1813 (John Tyler's 23rd birthday), he married Letitia Christian, who was eight months younger than he. The Tylers had eight children -- seven of whom lived to adulthood -- and were married for 29 years. Mrs. Tyler avoided the limelight during her husband's political rise, and in 1839, she suffered a paralytic stroke, which left her an invalid. She avoided public appearances as First Lady (indeed, her first official function as First Lady came on New Year's Day, 1842, after living in the White House for eight months). She died in her sleep in September 1842.
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First Lady Lou Hoover

On this date in 1874, Louise "Lou" Henry was born in Waterloo, Iowa. As a freshman, and the only female geology major at Stanford University, she met Herbert Hoover (who was a senior) in 1894. They waited until she graduated, and then married in February 1899. Lou accompanied her husband to China (where they experienced the Boxer Rebellion), helped him with his Belgian relief efforts during World War I (and she was decorated by King Albert I of Belgium in 1919), and then served as national president of the Girl Scouts of the USA while her husband was in the Cabinet. They lived in the White House during his one term as President (1929-33), and she died in January 1944.

Mar. 28th, 2017

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President Dwight Eisenhower

On this date in 1969, 34th President Dwight David Eisenhower died at the age of 78. Born David Dwight, he reversed his first and second names to avoid confusion at home (his father's name was David). Eisenhower graduated from the US military academy at West Point in 1915 (he would later become the second West Point graduate, after Ulysses Grant, to be elected President), and rose to the rank of five-star general. He served as Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, was President of Columbia University from 1948 to 1950, and then became the first supreme commander of NATO. In 1952, he became the fourth person elected President after never having held elective office.

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