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9 Super-Presidential Marriages

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The only thing that could possibly be more stars-and-stripes than a post about U.S. presidents and American historical figures is a post that doubles up on them. In honor of Independence Day, we give you nine presidential relatives who didn’t have to look too far from the White House to meet their spouses.

1. When Dwight D. Eisenhower’s grandson began dating Richard Nixon’s daughter, the security guards at her college weren’t too amused: He once told a guard, “David Eisenhower here to see Julie Nixon,” and the guard responded, “Yeah, and my name is Harry S. Truman.”

David and Julie had known each other since the 1956 Republican National Convention, but didn’t start dating until they were both in college in 1966. She went to Smith and he was at Amherst just eight miles away.

2. Andrew Jackson Donelson was technically Andrew Jackson’s nephew, but he acted as guardian for A.J. and seven other children after their father died. In fact, Donelson was so close to Andrew that his first wife (and first cousin) Emily served as the unofficial First Lady after Rachel Jackson died. After Emily died as well, Donelson married another cousin, Elizabeth Randolph, who was previously wed to Thomas Jefferson’s grandson. Donelson would have his own brush with the White House as Millard Fillmore’s running mate in 1856. The pair only received eight electoral votes, however, and James Buchanan became the 15th president of the United States.

3. George Washington never had children of his own, but raised his wife’s children from a previous marriage as if they were his own. In addition, he later adopted his step-grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, as his own son. GWPC had a daughter named Mary Anna, who married her third cousin, Robert E. Lee. Yep, that Robert E. Lee. In addition to being an American military icon, Lee’s great-great grandmother was Thomas Jefferson’s great-aunt.

4. Though they’re probably the least-known related presidents, you might remember that ninth president William Henry Harrison was the grandfather of 23rd president Benjamin Harrison. Elizabeth Harrison, Benjamin’s daughter, married James Blaine Walker, the grandnephew of James G. Blaine, her father’s secretary of state. Blaine was present when President James Garfield was shot by an assassin in 1881...

5. ... which makes it rather interesting that Elizabeth and James’ daughter, Dr. Jane Harrison Walker, married James Garfield’s great-grandson, Newell Garfield.

6. Here’s a twist—a presidential relative who married another presidential relative, then later became president himself. Did you follow all of that? Here’s what happened: Teddy Roosevelt’s niece, Anna, married his fifth cousin, Franklin. You probably know them better as FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt.

7. Sarah Knox Taylor was the second of Zachary Taylor’s three daughters. (He also had a son.) Before Zachary Taylor was the 12th president, he was a general at Fort Crawford in Wisconsin. That’s where 17-year-old Sarah fell in love with his second-in-command, lieutenant Jefferson Davis. Despite her parents’ hesitation, Sarah Knox married Davis in 1835 and contracted malaria almost immediately afterward. She died just three months into their marriage. Though Davis had resigned from the army to marry Sarah, he resumed his military career during the Mexican-American War, where he again served under his former father-in-law, Zachary Taylor. Davis, of course, went on to become the President of the Confederate States of America.

8. Abraham Van Buren, the eldest son of eighth president Martin Van Buren, married Dolley Madison’s cousin, Angelica Singleton. Dolley herself arranged the match. Angelica served as the official First Lady for her father-in-law since his wife had died almost 20 years before he took office.

9. Susan Ford, the only daughter of Gerald and Betty Ford, married Charles Vance—one of her dad's Secret Service agents—in 1979. When Susan openly courted her father's employee, Vance told her that her parents wouldn’t like the 16-year age difference, among other things. “It was only a matter of persuading him that our relationship was more important than his job—which he finally came to realize," Susan later said.

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Why the Best Time to Book Your Thanksgiving Travel Is Right Now
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You're never going to get a true steal on holiday plane tickets, but if you want to avoid spending your whole salary flying to visit your relatives over Thanksgiving, the time is nigh to start picking seats. That's according to the experts at Condé Nast Traveler, who cite data from Expedia and Skyscanner.

The latter found that it was cheapest to secure Thanksgiving tickets 11 weeks before the holiday. That means that you should have bought your ticket around September 4, but it's not too late; you can still save if you book now. Expedia's data shows that the cheapest time to buy is 61 to 90 days before you leave, so you still have until September 23 to snag a seat on a major airline without paying an obscene premium. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

When major travel holidays aren't involved, data shows that the best time to book a plane ticket is on a Sunday, at least 21 days ahead of your travel. But given that millions of other Americans also want to fly on the exact same days during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the calculus of booking is a bit more high stakes. If you sleep on tickets this month, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. In the recent study cited by Condé Nast Traveler, Expedia found that people booking during the 61- to 90-day window saved up to 10 percent off the average ticket price, while last-minute bookers who bought tickets six days or less from their travel day paid up to 20 percent more.

Once you secure those Turkey Day tickets, you've got a new project: Your Christmas flights. By Hopper's estimates, those flights rise in price by $1.50 every day between the end of October and December 15 (after which they get even more expensive). However, playing the waiting game can be beneficial, too. Expedia found that the cheapest time to book Christmas flights was just 14 to 20 days out.

Before you buy, we also recommend checking CheapAir.com, which tracks 11,000 different airfares for flights around the holidays to analyze price trends. Because as miserable as holiday travel can be, you don't want to pay any more than you have to.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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Big Questions
Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day?
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Wearing white in the summer makes sense. Desert peoples have known for thousands of years that white clothing seems to keep you a little bit cooler than other colors. But wearing white only during the summer? While no one is completely sure exactly when or why this fashion rule came into effect, our best guess is that it had to do with snobbery in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The wives of the super-rich ruled high society with an iron fist after the Civil War. As more and more people became millionaires, though, it was difficult to tell the difference between respectable old money families and those who only had vulgar new money. By the 1880s, in order to tell who was acceptable and who wasn’t, the women who were already “in” felt it necessary to create dozens of fashion rules that everyone in the know had to follow. That way, if a woman showed up at the opera in a dress that cost more than most Americans made in a year, but it had the wrong sleeve length, other women would know not to give her the time of day.

Not wearing white outside the summer months was another one of these silly rules. White was for weddings and resort wear, not dinner parties in the fall. Of course it could get extremely hot in September, and wearing white might make the most sense, but if you wanted to be appropriately attired you just did not do it. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, and society eventually adopted it as the natural endpoint for summer fashion.

Not everyone followed this rule. Even some socialites continued to buck the trend, most famously Coco Chanel, who wore white year-round. But even though the rule was originally enforced by only a few hundred women, over the decades it trickled down to everyone else. By the 1950s, women’s magazines made it clear to middle class America: White clothing came out on Memorial Day and went away on Labor Day.

These days the fashion world is much more relaxed about what colors to wear and when, but every year you will still hear people say that white after Labor Day is unacceptable, all thanks to some snobby millionaires who decided that was a fashion no-no more than 100 years ago.

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