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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead


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March 02, 2009
Continuing with the presidents and their birthdays, there are four birthdays in March and the first one is assigned to James Madison who was our smallest president, 5’4” and who weighed less than one hundred pounds. He was born March 16, 1751 in Virginia, a Democratic-Republican! Remembered as the Father of the Constitution, he served from 1809-1817 as president after having served in Congress and as Jefferson’s Secretary of State. Madison remained a bachelor until he was 43 and at that time he married Dolley who was extremely popular. She was known for giving huge dinners at the White House and always found unusual foods to serve, introducing ice cream to the menu. She served as a key advisor to the President and was always talking with senators and representatives about policies. Madison was the first president to be shot at by enemy forces when the British invaded Washington in 1812. When he realized that Washington would fall to the British, he escaped in his carriage, and Dolley was the one who saved the portrait of George Washington that was in the White House. The War of 1812 was fought and the “Star-Spangled Banner” was written; The House of Representatives was reformed, and the Loch Ness Monster was first sighted during Madison’s presidency.

Andrew Jackson was born March 15, 1767 in Waxhaw, a frontier region on the North Carolina/South Carolina line. Like Madison, he was a Democratic-Republican, and served from 1829-1837. Being more interested in pulling pranks than in schooling, he was not a polished individual. Jackson became a volunteer in the Revolutionary War at the age of 14 and then moved to North Carolina. He studied law, passed the bar exam, and opened his law office. His speech made no difference to judges as he could outdo any lawyer. He became a general in the War of 1812 and commanded the American forces at the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson fell in love with a woman named Rachel Donelson and believing that her divorce was final they married. Later they found this not to be true. He fought many duels to defend his wife and was wounded in two of them. Rachel suffered a nervous breakdown and died before Jackson entered the White House. He threw a party when he was inaugurated and invited the entire country. When over 2000 people attended and stayed for several days, the White House was trashed. But he became the first President of the people, dying of tuberculosis in 1845. Nicknamed Old Hickory, he was the first president to ride on a train. During his presidency, Texas won its independence from Mexico, the first American encyclopedia was published, Davy Crockett was killed in the Battle of the Alamo, and the first individually wrapped bars of soap were sold!

Born in Virginia on March 29, 1790, John Tyler was a Whig and a most unpopular president. He was the first vice-president to take the oath of office upon the death of a president. Prior to becoming President, he was a lawyer, a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates, a United States Senator, and Governor of Virginia. His first wife, Letitia, died in the White House after giving birth to 7 children in 29 years of marriage. Tyler remarried Julia Gardner and they had 7 more children, the last one being born when Tyler was 70 years of age. His nickname was “Old Veto” as he vetoed so many bills sent to him by Congress. A fine violinist, he died in 1862 still knowing he was very unpopular with everyone except his family. During his presidency, Florida became a state, Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message, the Barnum and Bailey Circus was started, and the first college degree was granted to a woman.

A Democrat born in New Jersey, Grover Cleveland was born March 18, 1837. Son of a Presbyterian minister, Grover was one of 9 children. Helping to support his family, he worked at the New York Institution for the Blind, on his uncle’s farm and as a law clerk. Four years later he became a lawyer at the same company and became active in the Democratic party. Elected sheriff of Erie County, he personally hanged two convicted murderers as he didn’t want to ask someone else to do a job he wouldn’t do himself. Cleveland won the election for President in 1884, worked to reform the federal government and made cabinet appointments from both parties. He was the first and only President to have a White House wedding when he married in 1886 Frances Folsom. They had five children, one of whom was the first child of a President to be born in the White House. Cleveland ran a second term in 1888, but lost to Benjamin Harrison. He made a comeback in 1892 when he defeated Harrison. During his second administration economy was in trouble, people did not have jobs, there were strikes and riots, and not enough gold in the U.S. Treasury. Cleveland did not run for another term but retired to New Jersey where he died in 1908. During his presidency, Cleveland canceled the opening of Indian Territory and gave land back to the Indians, the first box camera was sold, the Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by the French government, the panic of 1893 caused a stock market collapse, he sent federal troops to Chicago to stop riots, the first comic strip, “The Yellow Kid,” was printed in a newspaper, and the first professional football game was played.








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