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Milestones: March 4, 2024

March 4, 2024 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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INTRODUCED ‘THE NEW DEAL’ — FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT WAS INAUGURATED AS THE 32ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES on March 4, 1933, and would wind up serving three full terms and part of a fourth due to his courageous leadership during two of the 20th centuries worst crises. His famous inaugural address outlined his “New Deal”  plan for America to rebound from the Great Depression and for safeguards in banking and social services. Roosevelt was persevering through a personal challenge as well; 12 years earlier he had come down with polio which paralyzed much of his body. Helping him implement the New Deal was a Democratic Congress. He died suddenly in Warm Springs, Georgia less than three months after the start of his fourth term in 1945.

Roosevelt’s unparalleled 13 years as president led to the passing of the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which limited future presidents to a maximum of two elected terms in office.


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WARNING THE SOUTH — ABRAHAM LINCOLN BECAME THE 16TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES on March 4, 1861. He focused his inauguration address on extending an olive branch to the South over slavery but admonished those states that had seceded that he would enforce federal law. Although Lincoln promised not to interfere with the institution of slavery where it already existed, he also stood firm against secession and the seizure of federal property.

As eloquent as Lincoln’s speech was in seeking to heal the rift between North and South, it did not prevent the Civil War. Six weeks later, the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Civil War began.


‘BIGGER THAN JESUS’? — THAT WAS NOT THE THING TO TELL SOME AMERICANS. Still, Beatle John Lennon’s remark that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus” was taken out of context in the U.S. five months after he was quoted in the London Evening Standard March 4, 1966 edition as saying this. Lennon’s original statement was not so much a boast as a sardonic appraisal of organized religion. His exact words had been: “Christianity will go,” Lennon said. “It will vanish and shrink….We’re more popular than Jesus now.”

John Lennon’s 1971 song, “Imagine,” also alludes to a world that would be free of religion but people would still live in harmony. Lennon’s views stood in contrast to those of his fellow Beatles: note George Harrison’s 1970 song, “My Sweet Lord,” and Paul McCartney’s 1970 song, “Let It Be,” about a vision during a dark night of the soul.


CAN’T LIVE WITH HER, CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT HER — THEIR TUMULTUOUS MARRIAGE CAME TO A CLIMAX on March 4, 1960, when acclaimed comic actress Lucille Ball filed for divorce from her husband and collaborator, Desi Arnaz, and their corporate as well as personal breakup became America’s highest-profile divorce at that time. Ball and Arnaz had been married 20 years, six of them involved in the now-iconic early-TV sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” which was broadcast from 1951-1957. A TV pioneer herself, Ball insisted that her real-life husband (Desi Arnaz) be her “I Love Lucy” spouse as well, even though CBS was reluctant to have a Cuban American as a male lead. Together Lucy and Desi created Desilu Studios, which produced not just their sitcom, but also other series that became classics, foremost among them “Star Trek” (original series).

But Lucy and Desi did not always get along; and the pressures from show business factored in with Arnaz’s infidelity and drinking, led to their divorce. However, they remained close friends, and perhaps even still in love with each other. Lucy kept Desilu running, becoming one of the early successful TV studio heads.


TRUE LOVE— ACTOR AND FUTURE PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN MARRIED HIS SECOND WIFE, ACTRESS NANCY DAVIS, on March 4, 1952, at the Little Brown Church in the Valley, in Los Angeles. A devoted couple for the remainder of their lives, Nancy Davis (her screen name, as her birth name had been Anne Robbins) first met Ronald in 1951 when he, as president of the Screen Actors Guild, helped her when she became blacklisted after her name appeared on a list of communist sympathizers — even though it turned out to be another person with the same name. Marrying Ronald brought stability and joy to  Nancy’s life.

Nancy and Ronald became America’s quintessential couple, not only as movie stars but also as the First Lady and the President. Embodying their marriage vows, they stood by and supported each other when Ronald survived an assassination attempt shortly after his inauguration as President; and, later, when Nancy underwent surgery for breast cancer.

See previous milestones, here.

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