The Ten Sickest Senators*

Senator Tim Johnson (D) is still on the mend after his brain surgery last week. Though his doctors say he's doing well, there's still no telling how long he'll be "out of the office."

But as you've probably heard, he really can't be fired for taking too many sick days. Nine Senators have had to take extended leaves of absence since 1942.

From, we get the skinny on all of them (and it's kind of interesting to note how many are democrats):

  1. Styles Bridges - 1942: The New Hampshire Republican broke his hip when he fell December 31, 1941. He returned to office after missing several months.
  2. Carter Glass 1942-1946: Despite being president pro tempore and chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the Virginia Democrat missed almost four years because of various age-related ailments. He died before he could return to office.
  3. Robert F. Wagner 1947-1949: Wagner, a Democrat from New York, resigned after a heart problem caused him to miss more than two years. He couldn't attend any session in the 80th or 81st Congresses.
  4. Arthur H. Vandenberg 1949-1951: The Michigan Republican came back for two months after having a tumor removed from his lung in October 1949. He left to have surgery again in April 1950, and he returned briefly the next month. But he left a third time and never returned. He died in April 1951.
  5. Clair Engle 1963-1964: Brain cancer left this California Democrat partially paralyzed, and he missed various periods because of his operations. In June 1964, he was carried into the Senate chamber to cast his vote on the Civil Rights Act. He had to signal "affirmative" because he couldn't talk. He died the next month.
  6. Karl Earl Mundt 1969-1973: Mundt suffered a stroke in November 1969 but didn't resign until his term ended in January 1973. The South Dakota Republican wanted his wife to serve in his stead, but the state's governor refused to appoint her.
  7. Joseph R. Biden Jr. "“ 1988: The Democrat from Delaware had a brain aneurysm in February 1988. Almost seven months later, he returned to office.
  8. Albert Gore Jr. "“ 1989: Gore took almost a full month off when his 4-year-old son was seriously injured in a car accident. The Tennessee Democrat and his wife stayed with their son until he was released from the hospital.
  9. David Pryor "“ 1991: The Democrat from Arkansas had a heart attack in April 1991. He returned in September.

*since 1942

Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images
The Secret Procedure for the Queen's Death
Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images
Chris Radburn—WPA Pool/Getty Images

The queen's private secretary will start an urgent phone tree. Parliament will call an emergency session. Commercial radio stations will watch special blue lights flash, then switch to pre-prepared playlists of somber music. As a new video from Half As Interesting relates, the British media and government have been preparing for decades for the death of Queen Elizabeth II—a procedure codenamed "London Bridge is Down."

There's plenty at stake when a British monarch dies. And as the Guardian explains, royal deaths haven't always gone smoothly. When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the blue "obit lights" installed at commercial radio stations didn’t come on because someone failed to depress the button fully. That's why it's worth it to practice: As Half as Interesting notes, experts have already signed contracts agreeing to be interviewed upon the queen's death, and several stations have done run-throughs substituting "Mrs. Robinson" for the queen's name.

You can learn more about "London Bridge is Down" by watching the video below—or read the Guardian piece for even more detail, including the plans for her funeral and burial. ("There may be corgis," they note.)

Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]


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