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February 7

In 1937, on this day 27th President of the United States Elihu Root died in New York aged 91.

February 7, 1937 - passing of President Elihu RootHe served as the Secretary of War (1899-1904) under two presidents, as well as Secretary of State (1905-1909) under President Theodore Roosevelt. But he became TR's preferred successor only after William H. Taft was appointed to the Supreme Court. Ironically,it would be Root as President that appointed Taft Supreme Court Justice in 1910.

Just like Taft, he was never that keen on the Presidency to begin with, and so Root readily agreed to TR's plan for a ground-breaking Third Term. Needless to say, this monumental decision for a sitting President to step out of the race under a private agreement with his predecessor did not sit well with Republican Party elite, but Root's withdrawal made it something of a fait accompli. Nevertheless the party machinery prevailed upon Philander Knox to challenge TR for the nomination. And if democratic processes were not operating as usual then fate took a hand because TR was assassinated by a saloon keeper named John Flammang Schrank in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This happened on October 14th, after his re-election seemed certain and indeed too late to remove his name from the ballot paper.