Presidential address, US death rate spikes and the sad tale of our nation’s 15th First Lady

Presidential address – Last night, President Joe Biden addressed the nation, on his 50th day in office and the day he signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan bill. He called on Americans to join him in this ongoing fight against a virus that has upended our lives, saying “I will not relent until we beat this virus. But I need you, the American people. I need you. I need every American to do their part.” He gave July 4 as a date where we have a chance to “not only mark our independence as a nation, but we begin to mark our independence from this virus.” (Washington Post, The Hill, Politico)

US death rate spikes – The U.S. death rate increased by 15 percent in 2020, according to an upcoming CDC report obtained by Politico, making it the deadliest year in recorded U.S. history. According to CDC data, the 2020 increase is the largest since 1918 — when, in the midst of World War I, hundreds of thousands of people died of a flu. By comparison, the death rate decreased in 2019 by 1.2 percent compared to the 2018 toll. More than 3 million Americans died in 2020, with COVID-19 being the third largest cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

Jane Pierce’s tragic tale – The 15th First Lady of the United States is one of the more tragic figures of the White House. Despite having left Washington years before and much to her relief, the Democratic party pulled her back when they nominated her husband, Franklin Pierce, for president in 1852. He became the compromise presidential candidate on the thirty-fifth ballot at the Democratic Party convention in 1852, which he had assured his wife was highly unlikely. Jane fainted when she received the news. He ran against Whig Winfield Scott, winning 254 electoral votes. On the way to the inauguration, their last surviving son, Benjamin Pierce, died at the age of 11 in a train accident. The couple’s first two sons had died in infancy and at the age of four respectively. Jane never recovered from the loss of her children. (First Ladies, Women’s History)